Online Nursing School Tips For Success
Congratulations on starting your online nursing degree program!
You can go back to school without sitting in a classroom, fighting traffic, or even finding a parking spot like you would at a brick-and-mortar university. Instead, you can go straight home after work, cook your family dinner, help your kids with homework, and then work on your studies when everyone is asleep.
Starting online nursing school is something to be proud of. But in the back of your mind, you may be thinking, “Should I have waited until the pandemic is over? Will I be too overwhelmed with online learning?”
Online nursing school is challenging no matter when you do it. But you can still be successful, even during the pandemic.
Before addressing these concerns, see if one of the following four scenarios below mirrors your current lifestyle.
Scenario 1: You come home from work after being exposed to the ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients. You have not eaten. You have not gone to the bathroom. You are going on zero sleep because your 6-month old was up all night long. You come home from work and immediately bombarded with the needs of your children. Your babysitter has left the house in disarray, and now your husband calls and says he has to work late. Your online program starts next week, and you think, how am I going to do this?
Scenario 2: You are home-schooling your children and have a one-year-old who just learned to walk. You decide to get up early to get a head start on your work. You managed to get a couple of hours of work done until your 12-year old announces he needs help with an e-learning project that is due at 9:00 a.m. – the same time you have an important meeting. You sign in to Zoom, forget to mute, and the camera is on. You can be seen running after your diaperless 1-year old screaming in delight, thinking it’s playtime. The day is long and hard, with chores needing to be done, and your online program started today.
Scenario 3: You are now in the 3rd week of your online course. The COVID surge has hit your hospital hard, and you are working 60+ hours a week. You are already behind in two assignments and lagging in the discussions. You want to stay in class, but you also need to pay the bills and put food on the table. You need your degree to keep your job but don’t know what to do.
Scenario 4: You are working from home and get a call from the nursing home that your mother has taken a turn for the worst. You get in your car and receive a call that your 16-year old is COVID-positive and is coming home to quarantine. You haven’t seen your friends in ages and abandoned your own health care needs months ago. This whole pandemic has been very hard for you emotionally, and you don’t know how much more you can take. Your degree program is the LAST on your mind right now.
I’m sure many of you can relate to all or parts of these scenarios as you continue to ponder if online education is for you. You are not alone.
Online Learning and Reflections on Your Experiences
Before you think that pursuing your online degree during the pandemic may not be a good option, consider this: Part of learning online is about reflecting upon your experiences as a professional nurse AND applying these experiences to assignments in your classes. If you wait until the pandemic is over, you might miss out on one of the best opportunities of your life for reflection, personal and professional growth.
In all universities, objectives and curricula are designed according to national standards, such as an online RN-BSN program. Curricula contain specific courses for the program and are further broken down into course content.
Course content is typically divided into two main sections: discussions and assignments. Students have an opportunity to reflect upon and apply their experiences to demonstrate how they have met the overall program and university objectives. Therefore, the experiences you have accumulated from working through this pandemic can help you succeed in meeting program and university objectives.
What Can I Do to Be Successful in the Online Setting?
Now that you’ve considered the scenarios outlined above, there are ways to overcome many of those hurdles. Whether you are thinking about going to school online or have already started your educational journey, here are online nursing school tips you can integrate into your lifestyle right now.
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Online Nursing School Tips For Success:
Support is Key
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your professors, advisors, and loved ones. Your school has many resources to help you, from time management strategies to writing resources.
It is important to learn about these resources right away. Find out who your advisor is and discuss any concerns you have. Communicate with your professor often. A simple email indicating that you need help, or keeping them informed about ongoing circumstances in your life, keeps the lines of communication open. You and your professor can come up with a plan for you to complete your work. Remember that they are nurses, too. They will understand.
It is recommended you do not choose an online program that does not offer this type of comprehensive support.
Create an Action Plan
Creating an action plan is vital. Why? Because you can see a snap-shot of all your roles and responsibilities from child care, employment, your study schedule, and more.
Your action plan can be just a simple sheet of paper or an elaborate spreadsheet with time-tables and prospective future endeavors. The best part of this action plan is that it is a working document. You can add or delete from your list and find more time to do the things you need to do.
Start a Reflective Journal
Many have reflected upon how their nursing roles have changed during the pandemic and pondered about where they see their professions headed in the future.
Reflection is essential in any nursing program because it allows you to apply your course content and develop new critical thinking skills in real-time. The best thing about online learning at this time is that you can use your professional experiences to help you complete your class assignments and have insightful discussions in class.
Writing down your reflections can be as simple as jotting down your experiences on a notepad, phone, or computer. Some of my best reflections occurred while listening to relaxing music and admiring nature and photography. Perhaps this strategy can work for you as well. Even just 5 minutes a day can help you gather your thoughts during these uncertain times.
Many nurses have verbalized that they may not have enough engagement in an online program. Not so!
Many online programs have innovative ways for professors and students to be engaged with one another, such as Zoom, Skype, Voki, and real-time audio and video. Most online nursing schools have discussion boards. Aspen University, for example, has the Nurse Cafe — in which you engage with your peers and professors on a variety of topics.
Online courses often have their own unique ways to encourage discussion and engagement. One of the main benifits is that online discussions are mostly asynchronous, which means you can partake in discussions anytime during the week – 24/7!
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a great deal of stress, anxiety, and burnout for many of us. Self-care activities — like proper sleep, healthy diet, stretching, and other small changes to your daily routine — are so important as you treat patients and work your way through your online degree program.
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Don’t Ever Lose Sight of your Determination and Passion!
This is true not only in nursing but also in life. The nursing courses you will be taking may ask you to focus on a topic you are passionate about – perhaps you discover that you have a great interest in developing evidence-based policy/procedures for addressing future pandemics. Whatever your passion is, make sure that you hold it close to your heart and remain determined to reach all of your dreams and goals.
But most importantly, remember this as you continue to ponder your future in higher learning through an online setting:
Passion and determination make up the core of our aspirations, and higher learning sets the stage to help you showcase your dreams.
About The Author
Dr. Linda Marcuccilli is a professor of nursing at Aspen University and a registered nurse for 33 years. She developed a research program involving persons with implantable ventricular devices, published her research in several peer-reviewed nursing journals, and presented her research across the nation.
Dr. Marcuccilli is the author of the book The Journey Through Graduate School: Flourish and Be Happy and her blog Inspiring Learners: Find the Passion Within.
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If you’re on this site, you’re either a nurse or have a strong interest in nursing. And I’m sure that if the former group had the chance to sit down with the latter, they would have a lot to say. We all remember those exciting, terrifying early days of nursing school and wanting to make the world a better place; there’s plenty we’d want to say to our younger selves. We can’t go back in time and talk to ourselves, but we can share with you what you should know before going into nursing.
What You Should Know Before Going Into Nursing
There is a lot of career diversity
When you first set your mind to becoming a nurse, what did you imagine? Scrubs, a stethoscope, and patients in a hospital or general practice? What many new nursing students don’t realize is there are a variety of careers under the umbrella of “nurse.” A few you can choose without any additional degrees are:
- Surgical nurse
- Geriatric nurse
- Cardiac nurse
- Nursing Midwife
- Nursing Administrator
Knowing this before going into nursing will give you more time to consider what areas of medicine you’re most interested in so you can make the career choice best suited for you.
Additional recommended reading: Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?
You will make a positive difference in the lives of thousands
Unfortunately, there’s a long-standing stereotype of nurses being something of a sidekick who takes orders from a doctor. In reality, nurses are often the ones with their feet on the ground, taking care of their patients’ immediate needs. If you’re in settings such as the ICU or the ER, you could be the one to make the vital choices that’ll keep a patient in stable condition or save their life. You’ll need knowledge and confidence to make those calls.
This idea may sit like a weight on you at times, and that may even become overwhelming. We can take the classes, we can learn how to change IV tubing or take vitals, but learning how to walk around with the weight of patients’ lives on our shoulders without buckling is another thing entirely. But even if some days are harder than others, let me tell you a secret: you can do it!
It will be your responsibility to find balance
As important as understanding the weight of your position is, it’s also important to know when to lay that weight down. Putting too much pressure on yourself can lead to burnout and compassion fatigue. Try to set up healthy emotional boundaries even as you seek to be empathetic to patients.
It’s also important to find ways to leave the pressures of work at work and find people and activities that build you back up after long, exhausting shifts. Keep in mind, as much as it’s valuable for you to build confidence in decision making, you’ll always have a team on your side when you need help.
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The Perks of Becoming a Travel Nurse
*Written by Sarah Darren
Nursing is always a solid career path for people who have compassion for others and a desire to make a difference in the world. For some, it is a calling, but others get into the field of nursing because it offers a stable and fulfilling career path with lots of interesting opportunities.
This is a fantastic time to begin training as a nurse, simply because the need has never been greater. Not only are people living longer than they used to and requiring more care, but many healthcare organizations are already having staffing issues. This is expanding an exciting opportunity for those interested in travel nursing.
There are many perks to becoming a travel nurse!
What Exactly is a Travel Nurse?
Most nurses work for a specific hospital, school, assisted living facility, or other organization. They are traditionally employed and typically know what to expect regarding the work environment and their colleagues.
On the other hand, travel nurses are temporary staff for hospitals and healthcare facilities all over the country. They take on new assignments every few months (typically in 13-week blocks) and work in hospitals experiencing temporary personnel shortages or a higher-than-expected influx of patients. With shifts occurring in the healthcare industry, the demand is only growing for travel nurses.
Besides traveling around the country and working in different hospitals, travel nurses have the same responsibilities as permanent nurses. They care for patients and take on miscellaneous tasks to help hospitals run. Travel nurses have to adapt to enter a new work environment every few months, but there are several significant perks to being a travel nurse.
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Enjoy a Great Salary & Benefits
One of the best perks of becoming a travel nurse is the pay. Travel nurses generally get new assignments through a nurse contracting firm. This means that they enjoy a great salary from their contracts while also receiving benefits from their contracting firm.
In general, traveling nurses can expect to make around $65,000-90,000 annually, depending on their work and assignment. In addition to this salary, travel nurses might get allowances for temporary housing and living expenses, retirement contributions, health insurance, and even travel reimbursements.
Although travel nursing might not sound as stable as traditional nursing jobs, the truth is that the work is usually plentiful enough for nurses to make a great living on the road. The benefits can be as good or better than those from a permanent post.
Expand Your Personal & Professional Experience
Perks of becoming a travel nurse include: expanding your skills, living in new cities, and learning more money!
Working in one geographic area can provide comfort and stability, but it might not offer you new challenges or the opportunity to expand your skillset and experience. Nurses who don’t have the opportunity to work in a diverse healthcare environment might miss out on fulfilling experiences and the ability to build a more impressive resume.
Travel nurses get the chance to experience different environments and meet people from all walks of life. Not only does this provide professional benefits, but it also helps nurses grow personally. Working in different types of hospitals is a great way to expand your perspective and develop your communication skills and cultural competency.
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Looking for a Bit More Freedom? Travel Nursing Could be for You!
Nursing jobs are usually quite stable but can also be rigid when it comes to scheduling and time off. If you’re looking for a little more freedom and flexibility, then travel nursing could be a great solution. Although it would impact your paycheck to pass up a contract, travel nursing gives you the option of taking time off if you need to attend to personal business or just take a long vacation.
You have a lot more control over your schedule and your life as a traveling nurse. You’ll be living in new places and embarking on new adventures every few months, but you also have the freedom to say no to jobs that don’t suit you.
Travel nursing is rarely boring and can be deeply satisfying. If you get “itchy feet” and don’t like the idea of spending the next 40 years working in the same hospital in the same town, why not consider taking your career on the road?
If you dream of adventure and feel called to help others, then travel nursing could be the perfect career path. Right now, hospitals need people who are willing to drop everything, roll up their sleeves, and help patients get well.
Wound Care Nursing: An Alternative Career Path for Nurses
According to The Association For The Advancement Of Wound Care (AAWC), “More people are living with a chronic wound than with breast, colon, and lung cancers, and leukemia combined.” Moreover, the prevalence of leg ulcers in the US ranges between 500,000 and one million, and over 1% of the population has or has had a venous leg ulcer.
Yet, the AAWC also notes that while pressure ulcers have a 15% prevalence, at least 95% of them are preventable. Diabetic ulcers are not much different. While 16% of them will lead to an amputation, most are preventable.
Information like this indicates that there is a tremendous need for nurses who are educated in wound care. Utilizing various techniques to assess, treat, and care for patients with wounds, wound care nurses work with the doctor and care team to determine if other treatments like surgery or antibiotics are necessary. Wound care nurses also offer education to patients and their caretakers about caring for wounds, reducing their incidence, and preventing further complications. Here are five ways in which becoming a wound care specialist can help nurses.
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Market Trends In Wound Care Nursing
According to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) National Diabetes Statistics Report, 34.2 million, or 10.5% of the US population, have diabetes. Further, 88 million or 34.5 % of the US population 18 years or older have prediabetes. The CDC also notes that the cases of type 1 and type diabetes continue to rise.
As more people become diabetic and possibly bedridden, they also become more at risk for pressure ulcers and diabetic amputations. While the National Institutes of Health describe chronic wounds as a significant and often underappreciated burden to the individual, they also impose a burden on the healthcare system and society. Nurses who are wound care specialists stay abreast of the evolving market trends and meet the demand for wound care specialists.
Advance Employment Outlook
Treating chronic wounds requires a variety of techniques, such as debridement, cleaning, bandaging. Moreover, effective wound management involves working with the doctor and care team to determine if other treatments like surgery or antibiotics are necessary. Because additional training and techniques are required to effectively treat chronic wounds and improve their outcome, nurses who specialize in wound care significantly improve their employment outlook.
Wound care nursing: an alternative career path for nurses.
Improve Patient Outcomes
Complications of chronic wounds, such as cellulitis and infective venous eczema, gangrene, hemorrhage, and lower-extremity amputations, can worsen outcomes. In a sort of vicious cycle, chronic wounds can lead to disability, and disability worsens wound outcomes. In the case of amputation, the prognosis is also not positive. The CDC states that after an amputation, 13-40% of people will die within a year, and 39-80% within five years. For comparison, 5-year mortality for all cancers is 34.2%. Nurses who are educated in how to treat chronic wounds, therefore, can significantly improve patient outcomes.
Reduce Hospital Stay
The NCBI describes chronic wounds as those that, after eight weeks, do not show any signs of healing. This includes venous leg ulcers, pressure ulcers, and complex wounds. Chronic wounds are those that do not progress through normal, orderly, and timely healing. As such, according to American Family Physician, they are common and are often incorrectly treated. This leads to an increased hospital stay. By understanding how to treat chronic wounds correctly and effectively, nurses can significantly reduce patient hospital stays.
Because chronic wounds are inherently hard to manage and may require and coordinated effort by a multidisciplinary team, they pose a patient at a greater risk for rehospitalization. This may occur as the wound fails to heal correctly, or should the patient and caregiver lack the necessary education needed to improve wound healing. According to woundsound.com, patient education and caregiver involvement are critical components in wound healing and ultimately improving patient outcomes. When wounds heal correctly, rehospitalization rates are dramatically reduced. By becoming educated in wound care, nurses can help improve wound care management and reduce rehospitalization rates.
The rates of chronic wounds are increasing rapidly, as is the rate of people at risk of developing a chronic wound. Through becoming specialized in the care of wounds, nurses meet market trends, advance employment outlook, improve patient outcomes, reduce hospital stay, and prevent rehospitalization.
About The Author
Claire Nana, LMFT, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who specializes in post-traumatic growth, optimal performance, and wellness. She has written over thirty continuing education courses on a variety of topics including nutrition, mental health, wound care, and post-traumatic stress.
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What is diversity in healthcare?
Healthcare providers with different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities, genders, age ranges, and/or sexual identities — can have a significant impact on the availability and quality of care patients receive.
- Gender Identity
- Sexual Orientation
- Physical Handicapped
- Mental/Emotional Handicapped
Why diversity in healthcare matters for patients
Patients from underrepresented, underserved, and at-risk communities benefit from having informed and diverse healthcare providers. It’s essential that patients feel respected and protected to break through resistance that might interfere with treatment.
Educational efforts and inclusion practices are imperative in providing the very best care possible.
Additional recommended reading: Online Nursing School Tips For Success!
The Treatment Gap
Currently, minority populations develop more chronic illnesses, both mentally and physically, because of decreased access to preventative care. Socioeconomic factors that create barriers between minorities & wellness:
- Education level
- Proper housing
- Adequate nutrition
Patients are also more likely to seek preventative care from a medical professional of the same race that they trust. Research shows that members of underrepresented minorities are more likely to practice medicine in geographical areas where there are fewer practicing caucasian physicians, making care accessible to communities previously lacking in medical resources. An increase in preventative care means saving thousands of lives each year.
Changes in ethnic & cultural diversity in healthcare:
Diversity in healthcare & diversity in nursing
In the next thirty years, minorities will constitute 50% of the US population. However, as of 2017, only 19.2% of RNs come from minority backgrounds. Fortunately, this percentage is on the rise, which is good news for nurses and patients alike.
Nurses are making a difference among diverse populations.
The field of public health & community health nursing concentrates on the health of entire populations. It compensates for part of this treatment gap by creating readily available programs for at-risk communities. For example, the North Carolina Minority Diabetes Prevention Program aims to help community members make sustainable lifestyle changes and provides support groups to lean on throughout the process.
According to the US Food & Drug Administration, “racial and ethnic minorities have a higher burden of diabetes, worse diabetes control, and are more likely to experience complications.” Public health nurses are working at the government-level to expand healthcare to the entire population. The field is increasing, and RNs interested in this career path should investigate higher education programs focused on public health to see if it’s the right choice for them.
Why diversity in health care matters for nurses.
Nurses make up the largest portion of the United States’ healthcare system; there are nearly 4 million nurses in America, and we are still at a shortage of one million more. Nursing’s high turnover rate is due to baby boomers retiring, burnout, and subsequent job dissatisfaction, among other factors. A more diverse health care workforce means more nurses to share the workload, a solution to the national nursing shortage, and the job satisfaction all nurses deserve to experience.
Nursing gender gap
Nursing has long been thought of as a career for women, creating a societal block for men to become nurses.
- Presently, just under 13% of nurses are male — a percentage that continues to grow slowly year over year!
- There over 2 million female RNs compared with only 300,000 males.
Recruiting more men into nursing could alleviate the burden of the national nursing shortage, creating a more balanced and homogenous workplace.
Achieving a more diverse health care system
The same socioeconomic factors keeping minorities from quality healthcare are keeping minorities from entering into the healthcare workforce. Thankfully, as society shifts to more diverse demography, efforts are being made across the country to level the playing field and create a more inclusive system for all.
With the expansion of inclusion and retention programs, both medical workers and their patients will benefit. Additional recommended reading:
Guest author Pamela Mahler is a content specialist for Aspen University. She is passionate about learning and producing valuable resources that empower others to enhance their lives through education. Aspen University offers CCNE accredited programs at every degree level. Aspen created affordable degrees and 0%-interest payment plans with transparent pricing so that nurses can focus on courses, not the fine print.
Nursing is an exciting and fulfilling profession – and recent events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic have shown the world just how valuable nurses are.
If you have been considering the idea of starting a career in nursing, you may have fears standing in your way. Embarking on a new career can be overwhelming, but don’t let that stop you from pursuing your dream career as a nurse.
Here are 3 of the biggest challenges many prospective nursing students face when considering a career in nursing, and how you can get past them.
Additional recommended reading: 9 Tips For Working As A Nurse While Pregnant
Nursing career challenge 1: “I have a busy schedule.”
Nurses lead busy lives, and their careers can often become a central part of them. When you’re researching how to become a nurse, you need to think about ways to balance it with the rest of your life.
Here’s a solution: Talk to your partner or family about ways you can work around each other’s schedules, and consider possible alternative schedules.
One great aspect of having a nursing career is that nurses work many different kinds of shifts, at all times of the day and night. Some possible schedules include eight or 12-hour shifts, day shift (7 am-7 pm), mid-shift (12 am-12 pm), and night shift (7 pm-7 am). Also, many nurses only work on the weekends. There are not many professions that offer that kind of work flexibility!
Also, many accredited nursing programs are almost entirely online, and you can fit your studies at any time that works for you.
Nursing career challenge 2: “School is expensive.”
Money is always going to be a factor when you’re trying to figure out precisely what kind of career you want to pursue, and nursing is no exception. Whether you will have to take a pay cut or you’re worried about the costs of getting your qualifications, there are always things that you can do to get a grip on your money concerns.
Here’s a solution: There are plenty of grants and loans available for those studying, and there are plenty of adjustments you can make in your life to balance out a drop in your pay. Also, you don’t need to worry about paying your student loans back until after you graduate from nursing school, and there are many low rates available.
Here are four types of loans to help you pay for your nursing degree.
Nursing career challenge 3: “I’m afraid to make a big life change.”
The idea of changing your career can be scary, and getting a nursing education can seem intimidating. However, if you let fear dictate your career decisions, you are only holding yourself back. It might sound cliche, but keep in mind: fortune favors the bold. Don’t let fear hold you back from something so important to you.
Here’s a solution: Think about everything you have to gain from achieving a nursing degree and entering the profession of your dreams. Making a shift into a nursing career is much the same as any career change in a lot of ways. It’s a big step and one that you definitely shouldn’t take lightly.
Think it over carefully, but if fear is the only aspect that is holding you back, then maybe it is something that you really should consider. After all, moving forward despite feeling afraid is when we have the opportunity to grow the most – both personally and professionally.
What is holding you back from your dream career? How can you move through it? Good luck!
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