If you’re in Respiratory Therapy School, Nursing School, or basically any other medical program, it’s common to feel overwhelmed.

Have you ever tried to balance multiple tests each week with twelve-hour clinical rotations while finding time to finish your projects and homework?

I mean, how do they expect us not to feel a little crazy?

Look, I get it. I’ve been where you’re at. Respiratory Therapy School can be very stressful and overwhelming. But the good news is, if I was able to make it through, I know that you can as well.

In this article, we’re going to share some tips to help you overcome the feeling of overwhelm in Respiratory Therapy School. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.

1. Give Yourself a Break

You deserve it, after all. It’s okay to take a night off without feeling guilty about it. Chill out and go do something fun. Maybe you need to catch up on the new season of Stranger Things. Or maybe you want to go out to dinner with your friends — go for it!

Tap a nap. Go the gym. You deserve it. 

If you force yourself to study when your brain isn’t rested, you’re not going to retain any of the information anyway. So it’s better to just go ahead a take that break you so desperately need.

Even if you aren’t tired, it’s still important to take a mini-vacation away from the books every now and then.

2. Plan Out Your Schedule

This is a must.

Even if it requires purchasing a physical daily planner, or If you are like me you can use Google Calendar to stay organized.

Find whatever works best for you.

You need a system to help keep all of your due dates organized so that you can stay on top of them. Make sure to record each of your assignments on your calendar to stay organized.

You can even list the dates for your classes and clinical rotations as well. List every exam date, project, and even homework. Just by having everything in front of you, whether on paper or digitally, helps the brain process what needs to get done and when.

The more organized you are, the better.

Using a daily planner can help you stay organized with your classes and clinical rotations.

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is: You eat it one bite at a time.

You can assign priority to how you study for each exam that’s listed on your calendar. Usually, the highest priority will be the exam that is coming up first, but sometimes you will need to assign a higher priority to a more difficult subject.

Just follow along with your calendar and make sure you have enough amount of time to learn the information that is required to ace the exam.

3. Study While You’re Not Studying

This is one the best productivity tips out there in my opinion. It is natural to feel that, in order to study, you need to set aside a huge chunk of time out of your day (i.e. multiple hours).

While this may sometimes be necessary, it’s not always the case. You can study in small intervals, anytime and anywhere.

For instance, say you decide to take the break I recommended earlier and you go to the gym for a workout. You can flip through flash cards or read your notes in between sets. You can even listen to helpful YouTube videos as well. 

What about driving to and from school or just riding around the neighborhood?

You can listen to the lectures in your car. Even during breakfast or lunch, you can skim through your notes or watch helpful videos on the topic you are studying for.

This is the compound effect in action. Small bits, over time, can add up to huge results — and every little bit counts.

Student Studying at Respiratory Therapy Zone

4. Change Up Your Routine

Humans are creatures of habits. It is natural for us to form patterns for everything that we do, including studying.

This can be good but, unfortunately, it can also be bad. If you are not getting the results you want, it’s time to change it up.

Spend a few minutes tracking everything that you typically do to prepare for an exam. Do you study alone or in a group? Do you make flash cards, read powerpoints, or dive straight into your textbook?

If what you’re doing isn’t working, it’s time to change it up!

For me personally, I found that I make much higher scores on exams when I study alone compared to studying with a group of other people. This helps me stay focused so that I can truly retain the information that is required.

Maybe you are like me, or maybe you learn better by working with others.

Just figure out what is working and what’s not, and make the necessary changes if needed.

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5. Take Advantage of Your Clinical Rotations

I can’t stress this one enough.

Back when I was a student during clinical rotations, we typically had a lot of downtime. At first, I just wanted to do whatever I could to get through the day and make the time go by as quickly as possible. I would play games on my phone, check social media, and/or watch random cat videos on YouTube to make the time pass by.

This was a terrible strategy!

Look, I get it. You’ll most likely feel exhausted during clinical rotations. The last thing you’ll feel like doing is studying for exams.

But it’s important to know that this is truly some of your most valuable time as a student. Not only will you likely have a lot of downtime, you will have an opportunity to visualize the information that you’re learning about during lectures firsthand.

Learning Mechanical Ventilation During Clinical Rotations

Let’s use the subject of Mechanical Ventilation as an example.

Sitting through lectures in the classroom felt like I was trying to learn a foreign language. And judging by the emails I get on a daily basis, I know I’m not alone.

But when I actually started working with ventilators (in real-life) during clinical rotations, it all started to come together and make sense. When I could physically see, touch, and make adjustments to the ventilator machine, this helped my brain develop a better understanding of what my instructors were teaching during lectures.

This same thing can be applied, not only to mechanical ventilation, but everything you learn about during your classes in Respiratory Therapy School.

That is why it’s extremely important to use your time during clinical rotations wisely. Watch and learn and make the most of this golden opportunity.

Once I began to do so, my grades went up and the feeling of stress and overwhelm went way down.

Final Thoughts

Time management. That is the key to not feeling overwhelmed and overly stressed in Respiratory Therapy School. You must learn to manage your time effectively if you want to increase your chances of being successful.

Always remember to stay organized, plan ahead, and whenever you need it, for Pete’s sake, take a break!

I hope the tips that we shared can help you navigate the treacherous waters of Respiratory Therapy School. We have a similar guide that covers more helpful tips for students like you. Thanks for reading and as always, breathe easy my friend.

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