8 Ways Time Management Aids Nursing Education and Clinical Placement 


Every student nurse juggling academics with their practical experience during clinical placements has dual responsibilities. They are simultaneously responsible for their academic progress and their performance during placements. While this is a good way to develop skills, students can’t effectively carry out both roles without an aggressive time management schedule. With efficient time management skills, they can prevent burnout and focus on their work.

How to prevent burnout as a nursing student

A nursing student must learn to juggle roles without burnout. One of the ways to do this is by studying using a flexible and accessible online program. For example, Nurse Practitioner Online Programs at Wilkes University stand out for their comprehensive curriculum and robust support systems for working students. Students can complete a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) course in just over two years. After the course, students would have gained around 500 valuable clinical hours and developed strong clinical skills to prepare them for the real challenges of nursing practice.

While studying a course with so much flexibility, students will find that managing time to learn and exceeding expectations during clinical placement is just as important. Their personal life shouldn’t affect their professional life. How can they maximize professional growth and personal health and still excel academically? Here are eight important ways nursing students can manage their time and how it can improve the health of patients in turn.

Why time management in nursing education matters

Managing time for students is about having a reasonable schedule for everything they need to do without burning out. It’s all about students prioritizing tasks and giving their best to them at the allocated time.

Increased motivation

Strong time management skills increase students’ motivation to learn. They can allocate sufficient time to study course materials and improve clinical skills without feeling overwhelmed. This helps students eliminate any form of stress and anxiety of lagging behind, which may affect effective learning.

For example, if a student dedicates five hours of their day to learning and reviewing complex topics like pharmacology or anatomy, those hours will improve their understanding of those subjects. Those dedicated hours would be free from distractions and other commitments, allowing the student to better engage with materials. This focus will increase their knowledge and confidence, motivating them to do more.

This enables students to balance studies with the clinical experiences their placement offers. If their shift during placement is in the evening and they spend time in the morning studying, they can also transfer theory to practice. This way, their clinical placement becomes a practice ground to carry out all they have learned in theory for success in the profession.

Managing time effectively also helps students participate in extracurricular activities like seminars, workshops, or research projects. These activities will help them break the monotony of studying and working during placement and can significantly increase their abilities as a nursing student.

Better able to help patients

Having more focused studying hours equates to having a deeper understanding of patient care. Students can improve patient outcomes by understanding medical conditions, their symptoms, and corresponding treatments. 

For example, if a student dedicates extra time to studying diabetes, they will understand the psychological aspect of diabetes (like managing anxiety). They will also understand the physiology aspect (abnormalities in insulin secretion or insulin action or both) as well as the symptoms (frequent urination, unexplained weight loss, and excessive thirst). As a result, they can ask the right questions when a patient describes how they feel. With the knowledge gained from studying, they will also understand the importance of studying blood sugar, the value of insulin therapy, and how to manage a diabetic diet. This knowledge will help them assess a patient and provide effective management plans integrating lifestyle and pharmacological interventions.

Through time management and increasing effective study time, a nursing student can increase their chances of meeting patient expectations and improving their health. It will also make the student a valuable asset during clinical placement, and eventually, for the real world.

Reduced stress and burnout

Managing time and a schedule will reduce the risk of burnout. Efficient time management prevents emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This allows students enough time for physical exercises like walking, running, and self-reflection. These physical and mental activities can improve students’ mood plus mental and cardiovascular health, all of which ease anxiety. 

By managing their time well, students are creating a balanced schedule that integrates academic responsibilities, clinical duties, and personal life. For example, working strictly at allocated times (except for emergencies) and relaxing at the set time will avoid any possibility of overworking. Students can also integrate regular breaks into working hours to maintain mental and emotional well-being.

Aside from the above, good time management enables individuals to set realistic goals and achieve them without stress. They can combat the feeling of inefficiency and helplessness by taking charge of their day-to-day calendar.

Improved decision making

When nursing students start managing their time, they become efficient at prioritizing tasks. Deciding what to prioritize leads to timely, more informed decisions that enhance patient care.

The healthcare environment is exciting and fast-paced. Nurses make important decisions during emergencies and must stay coordinated and calm to remain an effective practitioners. This means nurses must be on top of their game while assessing patients, administering medications, and communicating with other professionals. Having strong time management skills helps them identify the urgent tasks to prioritize while pushing less urgent ones aside.

For example, if they efficiently triage patient needs, they can decide to pay more attention to a patient and refer others to wards where they can be seen later. Deciding what to prioritize keeps nurses in the right place and at the right time, reducing casualties.

Efficient time management skills also help reduce cognitive overload. This means nurses are not overwhelmed with many tasks at once, reserving mental bandwidth to process information, consider various options, and make the best decision. For example, nurses can only carefully evaluate a patient’s symptoms and make the right prescriptions when they are calm and collected.

Managing time also helps nurses maintain a clearer head during emergencies. This means they can quickly assess the critical situation, choose the best action, and execute it without second-guessing. Nurse practitioners become composed and focused even in such high-stress situations – this significantly increases their motivation to do more while feeling fulfilled.

Increased professional opportunities

Managing time and scheduling can help nurses identify free time to pursue additional certifications or attend more seminars to scale their potential. They can create extra space in a schedule to do something that will improve their career progression, although it may come with more responsibility.

For example, nurses who have a well-sorted calendar can sign up for specific training programs each week. The training could be an online program, a course, workshops, or a certification program. It could be in oncology, family practice, or even pediatrics – any area they wish to specialize in.

This will help nurses enhance their skills and expose them to a wider range of job opportunities. If they aspire to have leadership roles, they can pursue a master’s or Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP). This higher level of education will expand their knowledge and make them more effective in achieving goals.

Better work-life balance

Many nurses spend a significant amount of time working. However, maintaining a good personal life is also essential for a long-term successful or rewarding career.

Being organized and having efficient time management skills helps nurses create a healthy balance between their professional and personal life. The profession already comes with highly rewarding emotional intensity, but this should be balanced with creating time for self-care.

For example, managing time means nurses can avoid overworking. It also means they can create sufficient time for rest, hobbies, family, and friends. This way, they have stronger mental and emotional health; they are also more energetic, focused, and compassionate while on duty.

Furthermore, having great time management skills helps nurses avoid procrastination or last-minute rushing. Both procrastinating and rushing procedures can affect patient outcomes. It may also affect their workflow, as the unfinished tasks, such as paperwork, may take up valuable time for relaxation when they shouldn’t.

While it is not always easy to have a well-thought-out daily schedule, it is better for nurses to have a rough idea of a schedule to adhere to than to have no control over the day. 

A boost in self-confidence at work

Managing time effectively means gaining more confidence in clinical abilities, decision-making process, and skills. A nurse’s confidence at work is linked to their success, and this will increase their value during clinical placements for nursing students too. 

One of the key ways time management helps with confidence is by scheduling time to consistently practice clinical skills. Here’s a scenario:

  • A student allocates sufficient time for hands-on practice.
  • They get better at doing this task, which could be assessing patients with different health challenges, administering medications to acute care patients, or supporting surgical procedures.
  • They become the go-to person to call for help whenever there is an emergency, and the medical personnel in charge are not available.

The student’s drive to improve proficiency will naturally increase their confidence, and they will feel more capable performing these tasks. This will allow them to prepare for clinical rotations too.

For example, if a student is one of the best at reviewing patient cases and analyzing symptoms, they will be more confident adding value to patient care without supervision. This level of preparation will eliminate anxiety and increase self-assurance in their decision-making processes.

Develop effective collaboration skills

Finally, knowing how to manage time means nurses will know how to work with other teams when necessary. Sometimes, nurses will work with professionals from other fields because a patient requires it, and they must all manage their time to show up when needed.

For example, if a patient needs the help of nurses, doctors, therapists, and support staff, every professional with efficient time management skills will plan their schedule and provide care exactly when the patient needs it. This way, they will all be available for meetings, request consultations when they spot changes in patient health, and provide valuable insights to help with the patient’s treatment. 

Good time management skills also help nurses set realistic expectations and deadlines for the patient and the team. This gets every multidisciplinary team member on one page to avoid delays in care or schedule clashes. This will improve the patient’s health, allow smooth communication, and ultimately increase their ability to work with multiple professionals easily.


For nursing students, learning to manage time is a personal skill, but it is also helpful for professional growth. It helps them improve their academic performance (as they allocate sufficient time to studying) and their experience during clinical placement. As a result, students can contribute as much as possible to patient care. They will also be able to pursue avenues for career advancement while growing their confidence in the field. In essence, knowing how to manage time as a student nurse undergoing clinical placement will improve the quality of their life and the lives of patients.