Hey y’all! Y’all know that I like to throw back to things I wish I knew while in nurse practitioner school, after graduation preparing for boards, while starting to work as a new NP, and working as an NP.

So let’s discuss a tool to use while studying in nurse practitioner school, well any school honestly. As I think back to when I started nurse practitioner school, I can clearly remember the amount of work that I was assigned and trying to find the best way to navigate through effectively.

One piece of advice that I tell students is to start at day 1. What does that mean? Day one, start a notebook or binder and keep it throughout your program, you will need more than 1 of course. This will also keep you from getting behind and having to cram.

Grab your notebook!

In this notebook, keep all of your notes by system as you cover them in school. This will help you when studying for exams, in clinical, and will serve as your personal study guide when preparing for boards.

This is a great way to retain the content that you are learning as you go. You do not need to rewrite your textbook in this notebook, because, “ain’t nobody got time for that!” lol! Simply put quick notes for yourself to retain as you study, to review for exams, and to provide a resource once you start clinicals. Trust me this is huge, you can thank me later.


You will love this notebook at this time, as it will serve as your pocket guide so to speak. Clinicals can be intimidating, but you want to utilize this time to gain as much as possible. You can build on your notes as you encounter certain diagnosis, etc. For example, in your cardiology section, you have notes on the latest hypertensive guidelines and cholesterol management. You encounter a patient with hypertension and hyperlipidemia during your clinical rotation. Start to consider those guidelines, consider what they have taken in the past if previously treated, and discuss this with your preceptor. This is going to aid in your retention of the content as you are not only reviewing it, but now you are implementing what you have learned. Be sure to add notes from what you learn at your clinical site as well.

Quick Tip

When you start writing down your notes on diagnosis; be sure to include signs and symptoms, diagnostic exams, and treatment. Again, just quick notes and not the entire textbook.

Here is an example: (not all inclusive)

  • Pneumonia: cough, fever, rust colored sputum, pleuritic chest pain
  • Diagnostic exam: Chest X-ray
  • Treatment: Macrolide

Happy Studying!

Dr. Brittany Winestock, FNP-BC