How to Successfully Complete an Online Nursing Degree
Online degrees have changed the game for the better. They have opened the doors, especially for those looking to further their credentials later on in life and those looking to retrain to start a second career. While online degrees themselves have only been popularized recently, the concept of distance learning isn’t. Correspondence degrees date back over 100 years.
In the past, you were mailed your coursework and had to mail it back. This was very socially isolating and offered limited means to study. As time went on, written coursework gave way to video lectures and study materials. Then with the Internet, the first online courses were made available.
It is only recently, however, that the online framework has improved to the point that it has become a popular option. Today online degrees offer you freedom, flexibility, and the ability to save in comparison to an on-campus degree.
Online degrees and the rise of online training tools are one of the many changes that the pandemic brought around. Though online education isn’t for everyone – particularly young, first-time students – it can be an invaluable tool for many.
Nurses, in particular, have taken up online education. The ability to complete a degree while they work is a powerful one, and it means that more nurses everywhere can further their training and see their goals through.
Completing an online degree is no easy task. Add in a career as a nurse, and you have two big commitments to juggle. The good news is that many online degrees can be taken either full-time or part-time so that you can customize your approach.
Full Time or Part-Time?
Whether you take your online nursing degree full-time or part-time is entirely up to you. It will not hurt your career to take time off from your job to focus entirely on a degree. It also won’t hurt your education if you spread it out further so that you can continue to work while you study.
It ultimately boils down to what you can handle comfortably. Some are so focused and organized that they can easily add a degree to their already busy workloads. Others struggle. If you find yourself struggling, then taking a step back from your work can be a smart, economical move.
All that matters is your health and your needs. Choose the option that works best for you, and don’t worry about anything else.
Your Degree Options
There are so many degree options on top of the standard lineup. This gives you unique opportunities to customize and advance your career as you need. There are integrated BSN programs, for example, that let you earn your BSN and a non-medical master’s (usually in leadership) in one go. There are BSN to DNP degree options that package your MSN and DNP together.
There are also post-graduate certificates that allow you to either expand or redirect your APRN career as you see fit. You can complete this Rockhurst University online AGACNP post-master’s certificate, for example, in just four semesters.
Key Preparation Steps
Regardless of how you complete your online degree, you will need to prepare in advance.
Create a Great Office
If you want to work productively at home, then you need the space to do it. Start first with your office. If you have a whole room that you can transform, even temporarily, into an office, then do it. If not, find a bright corner that you can take over for the time being.
Your office should be brightly lit both by natural light and by artificial light. If you want to be productive, try to stay as close to blue-white light as possible. Blue-white light, like daylight, naturally helps us feel more awake and productive.
You will also want to ensure that your body is supported. This means getting a desk that is the right height, getting a keyboard if necessary, and of course, it means getting an ergonomic chair.
If you want to improve your ability to learn at home, consider also investing in a Wi-Fi booster if your office doesn’t have a strong connection. Another investment that may help you is a second monitor.
With a second monitor, you could, for example, watch the lecture and have a whole other monitor to write notes. Being able to see all the content that you need at once makes things easy to understand.
Find Personal Learning Tools
Your online nursing degree will use a variety of digital tools and techniques to help you learn the content. Don’t stop there. There are many great tools that you can personally invest in that will help you study and revise – and many are available for free!
You could use your voice app, for example, to create audio notes. You could also use the speak-to-text option to transcribe notes that you then clean up later.
There are even productivity tools. Invest in a web browser extension that blocks your access to distracting sites so that you stay focused during your study periods.
Create a New Routine
Regardless of whether you are working around your career or taking on a degree full-time, you will want to have a routine to support you. Splitting up work makes everything more manageable, and it helps minimize stress.
Build your routine around your own cycles for the best results. For example, if you get tired halfway through the day, don’t force yourself to study, have a short nap instead. Then you can pick up your learning requirements in the afternoon or evening.
Working with your body and giving yourself plenty of breaks throughout the day can keep up the momentum and ensures you stay productive.
Don’t just consider your study routine, either. If you want to perform your best, then your body is going to need to be at its best. This means eating well, sleeping consistently, and even exercising.
All of these routines should be started before your degree does. This way, you can help establish healthy rhythms. Some new routines, like exercise, can be exhausting at the start. After a week or two, however, you will start to feel a big boost of energy after a short workout.
Find the Memorization Tips that Work for You
There are actually many great memorization tips and tricks that can help you completely transform your ability to learn and study. The only caveat is that not every trick will work for everyone. Just as you should build a new routine in advance, you should also try out these different memorization tricks:
There are many different ways that you can use associations to improve your memory and ability to recall the information you need. You could use visual cues, for example. Put a funny sticker next to important information when you study, and then think of that sticker that stuck out to you. Usually, this will bring your mind back to those notes and, in turn, what information you are looking for.
Another way you can use associations is to try out acronyms or mnemonics. You could even make songs!
Don’t forget to use your senses, either. Sometimes the best way to remember where parts of the body are is by physically pointing them out on a mannequin while you revise.
Break Up Studying
You will want to study in small batches consistently. This helps you transition those short-term study sessions into long-term memories. Cramming the night before may help you the next day, but it doesn’t help you in the long run. By breaking up your study periods, you take out the stress and improve the outcome.
There has never been a better time to become a nurse. Not only are there many new and exciting degree options, but the nurse shortage means that there are many open positions across the country.
In order to get the most out of your career, you’ll want to consider what area of nursing you will eventually specialize in, as well as the type of environment you want to work in. Some thrive in fast-paced, high-pressure hospital environments. Others work better in clinics that have consistent opening and closing times.
Nurses are needed everywhere. Since they’re needed everywhere, there is no reason for you to try to commit to a role that doesn’t fit you. It may take some time to get into your dream position, but with the right training, networking, and perseverance, you can increase your chances.
It is also important to keep in mind how healthcare is changing. The ultimate aim is to increase investment into telehealth, which will do wonders in regard to decentralizing healthcare. Currently, there is an uneven amount of resources between rural and urban areas. There is even an uneven distribution of facilities between rich and poor areas.
Healthcare professionals everywhere are constantly considering how to improve care and access. This means new roles will continue to be developed to meet the needs of the people. Stay up to date with the changes so that you will be aware of new career opportunities as they happen.