MSN/FNP Graduate School Prep: Part One

I found it hard at first to look back and remember graduate school and specific things about practicum and studying for boards even though it has not been THAT long ago. Call it PTSD or repression of traumatizing events, haha. I’m only half-joking and I think mine was so rough because I was either pregnant or with a newborn for the majority of it and working full-time (yikes) and still vaguely unsure of how I survived. I made the most of my practicums and was lucky enough to have had a lot of family support for help with the baby. My husband took on an extra part-time job so that I could go part-time for the final portion of my clinicals. It was still exhausting and I wanted to go to bed every night by 9pm if not earlier.

I had to document each encounter in our school’s system using IC9 codes (now ICD10) and CPT codes for all the visits. As annoyingly time consuming as this was, it was worth it in the end because I had exact numbers for the different types of patients I had seen and procedures completed. The reason that this practice was so valuable was because it made that information readily available when applying for hospital privileges. I was lucky in that my school provided a program from which an excel sheet could be extracted but if yours does not I would recommend keeping track as it may save you time in the long run.


funny ICD10

(Image courtesy of heathcarenews I believe…I can’t remember where it came from so forgive me, I had saved as a joke but thought it to be funny)


EMRs suck. That’s the long and the short of it but they are also a necessity for the majority of practices. They slow you down compared with paper but very few practices are eligible to use that anymore. Fortunately, most nurses have already had some experience with EMR (electronic medical records) prior to grad school and therefore have an idea of the layout. Ours is in the form of (very detailed) SOAP notes, which from what I gather, is the current standard for most NP programs. So if you haven’t already familiarized yourself with this format then go ahead and start.

Soap note

Another extremely free and valuable resource I used was Evernote (for both desktop and my phone). It made it easy for me to do studying on the go during small downtimes I had (waiting for an appointment, riding in the car, etc). I would copy and paste study plans there especially as I was getting ready to study for boards. I was not aware of how valuable this resource would be when first starting, but had I known, I would have started using it with each didactic course at the beginning of my program. You can arrange different notebooks for each course like I did then have individual “notes” for each topic.


Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 10.41.01 AM


When I was ready to study for boards (and pre-boards we had to pass a comprehensive final at my school which I found to be more difficult than boards) I took practice tests then focused on my weaker areas or areas I was less familiar with in my past clinical experiences.


Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 10.40.06 AM


I just used the free version and have never tried the paid for version but it might be worth looking into if you find you need more storage space. I believe the free is now 60mb limit. However, I have many notebooks and it has not yelled at me yet to upgrade. Again, I have yet to receive anything from any company unless I otherwise mention so this is all just personal opinion.

As silly as it may sound, set yourself out a study plan and make it realistic. Most people in graduate school have the added weight of balancing family time, work, etc. Where are you going to squeeze in textbook reading assignments? Papers? Research? I did this for boards and wish I had created such a schedule for papers and didactic work. I’m pretty “Type A” anyway but I was forced to be even more so with all that was going on with life. Trying to fit in some study-time when I had a sitter on non-work days or when my hubby was going to be home was difficult and required preparation. We were on a tight budget especially at the end when I had to drop down to part-time so I went to Target, bought a large dry-erase calendar and skinny dry-erase markers and color coded our schedules. Even the Moose’s schedule (my hubby) who was begrudgingly standing in the kitchen acting put-off as I asked him day after day what his plans were so that I could schedule everything.

I try to save helpful things I find on Pinterest if you want to follow me or any of my boards you may find them helpful. I’m under Everyday Empress and have a board E2NP where I try to put helpful advice/sites as well as posts if you’ve missed any. Recently I have been adding equipment I have found helpful (some that I just like 🙂

Until next time!



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