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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What are the best nurse jobs for moms?
Having a baby changes everything. New mothers may want to think about alternative nurse careers that provide more flexibility for their growing family.
Fortunately, there are so many flexible nurse careers out there for nurses who are ready for a change or just want to step away from the bedside.
Becoming a mother is a full-time job in itself. Depending on your work-life situation, you might want to consider working in a nursing field that is more flexible and offers you the balance that you need. Childcare can be a challenge for nurses, especially for moms who work 12-hour shifts.
In no particular order, here are 5 of the best nurse jobs for moms:
#1. Per diem nurse
#1. Best nurse jobs for moms: per diem nursing
To work “per diem” means to work “by the day.” Per diem nurses are essential to every hospital organization because they allow the administration to fill in gaps where they don’t have enough nurses scheduled to work. It also will enable nurses who don’t have a very flexible schedule, like new moms, to pick the exact hours and days that they can work.
Per diem nurses are often required to work a specific amount of shifts each month. As a per diem nurse myself, I am required to work a minimum of four shifts in a thirty day period. However, I can ask to work as many shifts as I want. It puts me in an excellent position to earn money- I work on all of the days that I have childcare scheduled, and I don’t have to worry about being scheduled on the days I don’t.
Also, per diem nurses are usually able to call off within a specific time frame before a shift starts. For example, if my child becomes sick 12 hours before the start of a nursing shift, and I know I will be unable to work the next day, then I can cancel myself. It leaves a lot of wiggle room for me to schedule or unschedule myself when I need to be at home with my children. Most working moms don’t have that kind of flexibility, and it helps relieve a lot of stress.
The one drawback to per diem nursing is that you are only paid on the days that you work – you don’t have an allotment of sick days. Also, if the facility does not need any additional staffing, then you might get canceled. Which might not be OK if you were depending on the money you were going to earn that day.
Why being a per diem nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Total flexibility over work schedules
- Ability to call-off at the last minute
- Higher per hour pay then career nursing
#2. School Nurse
#2. Best nurse jobs for moms: school nurse
School nurses work in educational facilities, including public and private schools (K through 12). They support students and staff who become ill at work or need other kinds of medical attention.
Also, many school nurses are educators and teach various health topics to kids, such as healthy eating and the importance of physical exercise. School nurses address the physical and mental needs of students, which helps them succeed in school and sets them up for success in the future.
Becoming a school nurse is an excellent job for nurses who are mothers because you would work during regular school hours -the same hours that your children would be at school. It also means that you wouldn’t have to work weekends, night shifts, or holidays.
Many school nurses find the career rewarding because you are able to help start kids out on the right health track from their early years. Many studies show that long term health has a greater success rate when children are taught healthy habits from an early age. School-age kids are impressionable, and nurses can make a significant impact on how they take care of their health as they grow up.
Why being a school nurse is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Only work during regular school hours (no weekends, nights, or holidays)
- A rewarding career helping children develop healthy habits from a young age
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#3. Case manager
#3. Best nurse jobs for moms: case management
Case management is another great opportunity for working moms because you can help patients through planning, care coordination, facilitation, and advocacy of patient’s medical needs. Case managers collaborate with all outside aspects of patient care to make sure the patient stays safe and gets the care they need.
According to the Case Management Society of America, “Case Management is a collaborative process of assessment, planning, facilitation, care coordination, evaluation, and advocacy for options and services to meet an individual’s and family’s comprehensive health needs through communication and available resources to promote patient safety, quality of care, and cost-effective outcomes.”
Additional recommended reading: 8 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Nurse
#4. Telehealth nurse
#4. Best nurse jobs for moms: teleheath nurse
Telehealth nursing is when nurses can give nursing care, information, or advice to patients over the phone. It also helps to improve efficiency in the healthcare system and help to treat patients in remote areas who otherwise would not be able to receive care.
Telehealth nurses work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and for corporations. It is becoming more widely used in recent years due to improvements in technology and an ncreasing need to help patients remotely.
Why telehealth is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Ability to work remotely from home
- Able to help patients without having to work strenuous shifts in the hospital
#5. Advice Nurse
#5. Best jobs for nurses: advice nurse
When patients are not feeling well at home or have a question about a medical issue, advice nurses are used to help field questions via phone. One of the most significant benefits to patients is that it helps them determine what kind of medical care they need before they come into the hospital.
Why advice nursing is one of the best nursing jobs for moms:
- Flexible hours
- Sometimes a work from home position
- Less strenuous then 12-hour work shifts at the hospital
- Ability to help patients remotely
There are so many alternative nurse careers for nurses who are moms. In fact, that is one of the best reasons to become a nurse – the nursing profession offers so many unique career opportunities that other professions simply do not.
Take care of your family first, and fit your nursing career in a way that serves your family best. Good luck!
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We must teach our kids a foundation for healthy eating habits. Unfourtuanelty, this can be challenging for busy nurse moms, who often struggle to eat properly, exercise regularly, or get enough sleep as it is due to our crazy working-mom lifestyles.
So, how do we help our families adopt healthier eating choices when it seems like life is always getting in the way? Here are a few fun suggestions that have worked for my own family. I hope they help you too!
Involve children in the meal planning process
Teach your kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the meal-planing process.
Kids love to feel like they are a part of things, and they are more likely to want to eat healthy foods if they are included in the food preparation experience. Grant your children some say in which foods you bring into the house.
For example, if I plan to purchase grapes at the store, I will ask my son which color he wants. When we go to the grocery store together, I let him help me select the produce items that he thinks are the most appealing. Search recipes together for inspiration, so you all can be excited about the meals you will have that week.
I personally love Pinterest and use it as my primary means of saving and organizing recipes. Each child can be allowed to make one or two “special requests” for either a specific food they would like to have or a particular meal they want to eat.
Sometimes it is not realistic to prepare a family meal every single night. Here is a solution for that: make double batches when you cook to ensure that you have extra nutritious food that can easily be reheated as leftovers later in the week. When I worked 12-hour day shifts, I would often make a tray of lasagna, enchiladas, or casserole on my days off. That way, my husband could easily prepare healthy dinners for the family in my absence.
By preparing meals ahead of time, we eliminated the temptation to pick up fast food on the way home when we were exhausted and starving.
Encourage children to help out in the kitchen
Teaching kids healthy eating habits by involving them in the kitchen.
Even young children can make handy kitchen porters. They can help mix, measure, and stir years before they are old enough to be trusted near a hot stove or sharp instruments.
My son picked out a set of miniature set of kitchen tools (a small spatula, whisk, and tongs) for himself, and it makes him feel extra special when he assists me in the kitchen. You may have to do a little extra clean up at the end, but be patient and praise your culinary apprentices for helping! Fond memories and a love of cooking will be ingrained for life.
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Forget the “clean plate club”
Teach kids healthy eating habits – don’t encourage them to clean their plates if they are full.
Children are very good at self-regulating their food intake. Telling kids they must finish their food, even if they insist that they are not hungry, can cause them to tune out their innate cues of fullness and may set them up to become chronic overeaters later in life.
Lead by example
Kids are always observing, and you need to practice what you preach. The nutrition standards you set for them as a parent will go further than anything you say. However, don’t always expect perfection of yourself. Parenting is hard, and some days just getting the kids fed is an accomplishment.
Holiday get-togethers, family dinners, and parties with cake and candy are perfectly fine in moderation. The point is that if you eat a variety of wholesome foods each day, your children will develop an appreciation for fresh, healthy eating as well.
Additional Information to help teach children healthy eating habits
The American Academy at Pediatrics has an archive of articles with evidence-based advice on healthy eating for children that you can find here. Consult with your children’s pediatrician or primary care provider if you have questions regarding your children’s specific dietary needs.
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Nurse moms are pretty incredible humans.
Being a nurse or a mom is hard work in and of itself. Add the two together and you have one incredibly hard-working, compassionate, multitasking superhero with skills that can save lives.
This holiday season why not give gifts that recognize both talents? The one that is raising children to be strong, capable adults and the one selflessly helping total strangers. After all, there is a fair chance that many nurse moms are not being appreciated or recognized for the dedication and hard work they put in, day after day.
The motherhood/nurse combination is a challenging balance. Next time you run into a nurse mom who looks a little tired, know there is a good chance she hasn’t slept in a week. And give her a high-five.
We hope you enjoy your holiday season and spend lots of quality time with your loved ones!
*This post about gifts for nurse moms contains affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
The Ultimate List Of Fun Holiday Nurse Mom Gifts
2. Keep Calm My Mom Is A Nurse Onesie
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Being a nurse helped prepare me for motherhood.
Nothing can prepare any parent for the insanity of parenthood, because it’s impossible to understand its complexity until you’re there. However, after working as a nurse for so many years before having my children, I do think it gave me a tiny edge.
As an emergency room nurse, I work in a lot of unusual and often stressful situations involving the health and wellbeing of my patients. Admittedly, I’m exhausted on my days off, and sometimes I feel guilty for working such long hours.
But even though I often feel overwhelmed with my crazy life as a working mom, I am so grateful for how my experience as a registered nurse has helped prepare me for motherhood.
Additional recommended reading: Is Nursing A Good Career For Moms?
Toddlers can act just like miniature psych patients.
In the ER, I deal with every single type of mental and psychiatric disorder ever documented in the literature. We work with everything from homicidal schizophrenia to depression or anxiety and everything in between.
Some of the most exciting conversations I have with my two-year-old remind me of similar situations and conversations that I have had working as a healthcare professional.
For example, I have watched my toddler throw herself on the floor in a fit of tears because I didn’t peel the banana “the right way” (believe it or not, I have had similar conversations with patients). I guess you could say that I have had a lot of experience with having irrational discussions over the years.
As a result of my experience working in an ER with an acute psych ward, I have almost no reaction when my toddler melts down or breaks into a fit of rage out of nowhere. I have had too much experience dealing with angry, irrational patients. Having composure and speaking with respect is always the winning choice and warrants the best response in both scenarios. (When a nurse gets mad back at a patient, the patients yells louder. It’s the same with toddlers).
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I stopped worrying about things that aren’t worth my worry.
As a nurse and mom, I am generally more concerned about the things that might seriously injure or kill my children. Sure, a broken arm would suck, and no mom wants to see their child in pain. But a broken bone won’t kill you. Like, for example, falling out a window in a home that hasn’t been childproofed could.
I want my home safe from the significant injuries, but I also don’t want to helicopter-parent them from ever injuring themselves.
(But I also have an irrational fear of swimming pools now too as a direct result of my experience as an ER nurse, so I suppose being a nurse and mom has also made me a bit paranoid as well).
The way I see it is that kids grow and learn so much through play. If they are playing right, they are going to get hurt once in a while. Minor injuries are a part of childhood, and having them can help kids grow and develop resilience to other things that happen to them out in the world.
Additional recommended reading: 9 Tips For Working As A Nurse While Pregnant
Being a nurse is a constant reminder of how lucky I am to have healthy children.
I have had the privilege of working with pediatrics as an emergency medicine nurse. As a result, I have watched a lot of parents deal with their children’s chronic illnesses, life-threatening injuries, and so many other medical-related issues that can keep kids in the hospital for weeks, months, or even years.
It makes it hard for me to complain about how busy my life is as a working mother. Because in reality, when you have healthy children, you have everything that you need.
As a working mom and nurse, I see a lot of the bad things that can happen, and it makes me more grateful for the things I have. It is all a challenging balance. But it is also an honor and a privilege – and it has prepared me for motherhood in a way that nothing else really could.
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*This post may contain affiliate links. You can find our disclosure page here.
Written by Adela Ellis, RN, BSN
Working the night shift is never easy. Add a kid or two into the mix and it becomes even that much more difficult.
Life can be challenging for working parents, even in the best of circumstances and working night shifts is no exception. Raising kids when you are sleep deprived is challenging at best, and it’s often challenging to find someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock.
There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means that you’ll have more time to spend with your family during the day. There is even some evidence that working the night shift can benefit the parent-child relationship.
Plus, the lines at the grocery store tend to be really short first thing in the morning when night shift workers are heading home.
If you are a parent and you are struggling with how to make working the night shift work, you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling to discover three tips for parents working the night shift.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #1: Prioritize Self-Care
Night shift nurse tip #1: prioritize self-care
As a parent, you probably put your kids’ needs ahead of your own pretty much all the time. But it’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too. Self-care is important for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.
As humans, we are naturally programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Working the night shift means fighting against one of your body’s most basic instincts, and it’s not easy.
To minimize the negative effects of working nights, you need to make self-care a priority. Make sure you get plenty of sleep each day, maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and pamper yourself once in a while.
Set boundaries with family members (including your children) to ensure that you are able to get the rest you need. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to afternoon playdates if you need to sleep. If you want to be the best version of yourself, both at home and at work, you need to make taking care of yourself a top priority.
Even choosing the right clothing to wear to work can be a part of your self-care. Invest in quality scrubs that you will feel great wearing. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get chilly during the night and make sure you have a few nice scrub jackets in your closet. Invest in high-quality nursing shoes that won’t leave you feeling fatigued just a few hours into your shift. When you feel your best in cute nurse scrubs and comfy footwear, it’s a lot easier to make it through your shift with a smile on your face.
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Night Shift Nurse Tip #2: Find an Amazing Babysitter
Tip #2 for working the night shift with a family: find an amazing babysitter
If you and your partner work opposite shifts, having someone to watch the kids while you are at work might not be a problem. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need someone to watch them during the day too. You may get home first thing in the morning and not need to return to work until later that night, but you need that time to get some rest.
Plenty of parents think that they can work at night and take naps throughout the day when the kids are asleep, but that very rarely works out. You might not need a sitter if your kids are in school during the day, but, if you have little ones at home, a good sitter is a must.
Find someone that you can depend on to watch your kids on a consistent schedule. You need between seven and nine hours of sleep each day (roughly), so make sure you choose a sitter who is available for enough hours each day to enable you to get some much-needed sleep. Consider sending your kids to daycare or choosing a sitter who can watch them in their home. This will help minimize the noise in your home and allow you to rest without worrying about why your little one is crying or being woken up by random noises throughout the day.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #3: Learn to Embrace the Night Shift
Working night shift with a family tip #3: embrace the night shift
For most parents, one of the hardest parts of working the night shift is knowing that you’ll have to miss out on things like family get-togethers and school events. A big part of your kids’ lives will happen when you are asleep, and that can be a really tough thing to accept. If you want to successfully navigate working the night shift as a parent, though, you are going to have to learn how to embrace it.
Instead of thinking about the negatives, consider the positives. You’ll make more money and be able to pay off debt faster or surprise your kids with special treats. You’ll get to provide better care for your patients and build stronger relationships with your coworkers.
In addition, you won’t have to deal with things like grocery shopping during the hours when most of the world is awake. Your nonstandard schedule may even enable you to spend more time with your kids.
The Bottom Line For Parents Working The Night Shift
As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Often, that means doing things that you don’t really want to do––like working the night shift––in order to provide a better life for them. Working nights isn’t always easy, but there are things that you can do to face the challenges head-on and be a great employee and parent. Use the tips listed above to make life as a night-shift working parent happier and healthier for you.
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About the author: Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last 6 years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family.