How to Best Utilize Office Hours in Nursing School

How to Best Utilize Office Hours in Nursing School

I remember being in nursing school and having office hours offered by all of my professors. To be entirely honest, I never really utilized office hours–other than in special circumstances. In hindsight, I totally wish I had taken advantage of office hours more back in nursing school because they were a great opportunity to get to know my professors better and could have made a difference in how well I did in a class.


How to Best Utilize Office Hours in Nursing School
Sophia M.


April 4, 2024

This is not because your teacher will give you better grades because they play favorites, but because you’ll improve your communication with your professor and it will be easier to learn from them and be less intimidating to bring your questions to them.

Below, I’m sharing more tips on using office hours and how to get the most out of them. 

Reasons to Utilize Office Hours

Office hours are a reserved period of time during which your professor is available in their office for students to stop by with any questions or concerns. For example, you may have class on Tuesdays from 8AM to 10AM, and then your professor has office hours from 11AM to 1PM that same day. You can stop by their office any time within this time frame to talk with them about, well, anything. 

Some common reasons why nursing students might visit their professor during office hours include:

  • Clarification on test questions (such as explaining why a certain answer is correct over the other options). 
  • Discussing lecture-related questions.
  • Help with succeeding in coursework.
  • Resolving issues such as clinical instructor conflicts.

Your professor’s office hours provide you with an opportunity to see your instructor and talk with them one-on-one. The main reason why students choose to visit instructors during office hours is to ask questions or go over missed test questions that they found confusing. If you have a poor grade in a class, you might want to go talk with your professor about why your grade is low and where you’re falling short. It would be a great opportunity to ask questions about things you’re finding confusing and pick your professor’s brain about any study tips they have for the course. 

You shouldn’t wait to visit your professor in their office until you’ve failed a test and need answers–you should just rip the bandaid off right away and go for the sake of introducing yourself. It can help break down barriers and make future communications easier. It also gives you a one-on-one opportunity to talk through anything that you’re struggling with in the course. 

Benefits of Using Office Hours

Visiting your professor in their office may actually have a positive influence on your grade in the course. I feel like I probably could have made nursing school a lot easier on myself by showing up to my professor’s office hours. Here are some potential benefits to meeting with your professor during their office hours. 

It can help break down communication barriers

It is easy to feel intimidated by your professors (especially the not-so-warm-and-fuzzy ones) but keep in mind, they are human beings just like you, and although it might not always feel like it–they want you to succeed in their class.

They offer their office hours for a reason, so don’t think you’re a burden by going to visit them in their office. You can ask if they have any pointers to help you be successful in the course and maybe even talk to them about future career goals you have. I’m sure they will love to hear from you. Meeting your professor in their office allows you to see them in more of a human way, rather than being too intimidated in class to ask a simple question.

Once you’ve communicated once, future interactions become easier

By communicating with your professor and feeling less intimidated by them, it will make future communications and interactions much easier. This means that if you have a question or want to open a discussion during your lecture, you will probably feel less reluctant to do so. Also, it’ll be easier to talk with your professor if you get a lower grade on an exam and you want to figure out what you did wrong. 

One-on-one communication can be more effective

If you try to save all of your questions and concerns about coursework to ask during your lectures, it probably won’t be as effective as using office hours. It’s easy to hold back or be intimidated when speaking in front of a group. Plus, you’ll feel more rushed when asking questions during a lecture, since you’re cutting into class time. Speaking with your professor one-on-one during office hours is much more effective because you’ll have more time to talk and you won’t have an audience. 

Studying nursing has never been easier.

Set yourself up for success with Lecturio.

Tips for Your First Office Hour Visit

If you’ve never visited your professor during office hours, it can be intimidating. Once you do it though, you’ll realize that it really isn’t all that bad. Try some of the following tips to help make your first office visit to your professor (and the ones that follow) a comfortable and seamless experience. 

Start with a simple introduction

Visiting your professor’s office hours right at the start of the semester is a great way to ensure strong communication between you and your professor from the beginning. It can seriously be as easy as just saying, “Hi” and introducing yourself. You can talk with your professor about any questions you have about the course and any pointers they have to help you better succeed. This is a great opportunity to practice networking within your profession–a valuable skill that you’ll be glad you honed in nursing school. 

Plan what you need to talk about ahead of time

If you’re really feeling nervous about going to your professor’s office hours, then take some time to plan out what you’ll talk with them about ahead of time. This can help mentally prepare you and you won’t feel like you’re unsure of what to say when you walk in. If you’re preparing to visit your professor at the start of the semester and you don’t yet have any coursework-related questions, ask them a bit about what to expect in the course. 

You can even talk about some of your professional goals. You could also review the syllabus ahead of time to figure out what to talk about if you plan to visit your professor right at the start of the semester.

For subsequent office hour visits, you’ll likely have more specific questions. Even if you feel like you know your questions and concerns well off the top of your head, take some time to write them down just in case. That way, you can glance at your notes before leaving to make sure you have discussed everything. It’s easy to forget important questions when having meetings like this, so writing down your questions ahead of time is super helpful. 

Try not to be intimidated

Your professor wants to see students show up to their office hours, so try not to feel intimidated. Remember, they once were a nursing student just like you–they know exactly what you’re going through. They’ll likely be happy to see that you’re excited enough about the course that you’re wanting to utilize the office hours, so don’t be intimidated. Keep in mind, you’re not a burden to them. 

My experience with using office hours in nursing school 

To be entirely honest, I didn’t utilize office hours much when I was in nursing school. There were definitely some situations when I went to my professor’s office hours, but this was usually when I received a poor test grade and I needed some explanation of test questions. I think it would have benefitted me to use my professors’ office hours more and to take the time to introduce myself at the start of the semester.

As a naturally shy person, I always found these types of interactions intimidating when I was in school, but a little time out in the real world working as a nurse quickly helped me get over this shyness. In hindsight, office hours don’t actually sound intimidating at all. I love the idea of visiting the professor first thing during the semester to get established and allow your professor to put a face to your name. 

Final thoughts

If you really don’t want to, you don’t necessarily have to visit your professor during office hours but I will say that it’s probably a lot less intimidating than you’re expecting it to be. Getting to know your professors a bit more can offer invaluable benefits, such as improving communication and making it easier for you to get clarification on coursework. It’s really just a form of networking, which is a great skill to start honing right now.

Survival guide rn

Take the Course: Nursing School Survival Guide RN

Cover all topics concerning nursing school with Nurse Liz

We've been there.
We get it.

Don’t have a clue what to expect in nursing school? Terrified of clinical?

Nurse Liz has spent years troubleshooting the challenges of nursing school for her social media community. Get her proven strategies and inside tips for every step of nursing school. 

Lecturio's Anatomy Course with Prof. Pickering

Further Reading

Think of fresh-faced you immediately following your high school graduation. Now, imagine Future Nurse You, ready to deliver efficient care ...
There’s no denying the fact that nursing school is hard, but prospective students tend to wonder: what exactly makes it ...
Note-taking is not one-size-fits all, so I’ve outlined some tips for taking notes in nursing school and considerations that can ...

User Reviews