Top Tips to Improve Your Online Nursing Education
Top Tips to Improve Your Online Nursing Education
Online education has opened up the possibility for many people. It means you can now work while you further your formal qualifications, and more importantly, that you can work wherever you want. The days of rushing from work to make your night school classes are long over. Now you can tackle most, if not all, of the curriculum right from home if necessary.
Studying where and when you want is a huge relief, but as anyone who has actually managed that trying task can tell you, it is not enough. You have to take advantage of resources, routines, and help from others to get the most out of your online education.
Building those healthy routines and knowing exactly how to get the most out of your education, are two things you can do before your nursing course begins and even before you enroll. Preparation is the most critical factor, so follow these top tips to improve your online education experience:
Choose the Right University and Degree for you
Knowing you want to complete an online degree is a significant step, but the difference between excellent online education and a poor one is massive. You need to vet out the degree and the institution to ensure that you choose the right option for you.
1. Helps You Achieve Your Goals
The most important thing to consider when looking for a university and a degree is that it is the perfect choice for your goals. For some, these goals will be clear-cut. Nurses require at least an MSN to become APRNs, for example, but if you wanted to really kickstart your career and hit the highest tier of nursing, you would want to earn your Doctor of Nursing Practice.
A significant degree, then, will be one that allows you to earn both your MSN and DNP at the same time and is possible to earn after two years of working as an RN after you graduate from your BSN.
This sort of goal-oriented degree will help you reach your goal in the fastest amount of time and cuts out the need to go back to school later.
Not all careers are so clear-cut, but that does not mean you cannot find a similar perfect degree that matches your goals. New, specialist degrees are emerging all the time and will allow you to stand at the forefront of your industry.
2. Is Accredited
Always check if the university in question is accredited. Except for the world-famous and longstanding institutions, many universities are new, and you may not have heard of them before. This does not mean it isn’t a good university, just that you should do your due diligence and ensure that the degree you would be earning would allow you to further your career.
Those who need accredited degrees, like nurses, absolutely need to follow this step. If you do not earn an accredited degree, then you won’t be eligible to sit the state exam.
3. High Student Satisfaction
You do not need a top ten school to experience the benefits. Instead, all you need to know is that the students who went and took the degree you are looking at were satisfied with their results. This can be measured in many different ways. How many of their nursing students have passed the state exams? If the pass rate is high, then you can assume that the curriculum was thorough enough and the teaching methods effective.
4. Provides the Right Career Support
The purpose of continuing your higher education while you are working full time is for your career. In this light, you want to make sure that your career is already and set by the time you graduate.
Some careers may even require work experience. Nurses have a minimum number of clinical hours they must reach before they can take their exams, which is why the best nursing degrees have clinical placements as part of their program.
Know what type of career support your university offers and take advantage of it.
Know the Resources Available at Your Institution
Following on from the career support, take note of the full scope of benefits and resources that the university offers. Here are a few examples of what you can expect:
- Student Advisors
- Online Library
- Career Placements and Advice
- Mental Health Services
- And More
Knowing what resources are available at your disposal can help both in the selection process and when it comes to getting your money’s worth. You do not pay tuition just for your course, after all. You pay your tuition to have access to the university as a whole. There are many departments available just to help support you and so that you can get the most out of your degree.
Get Your Routine Ready
If you have already enrolled, or only just applied, now is the time to get your routine ready. It is hard to work and study, especially if your work has you on your feet all day like it does with nursing. In light of this, you need to have routines in place.
Routines help us balance our energy levels so that it is easy as pie to add in extra steps throughout the day. There are a few routines you are going to ideally get in the habit of before your course starts for the best results.
1. Regular Sleep Schedule
If you can, try to set up your schedule so that you can enjoy regular sleeping hours. If you cannot keep regular hours, try to at least sleep in the same bulk of time and then adopt very strict night time and morning routines so that you can signal your brain and body that it is time to sleep, even if your circadian and sleep/wake cycles disagree with you.
Master your sleep, and you can get a good night’s rest regularly. There is nothing better when it comes to learning and processing new information, so prioritize sleeping well for the sake of your education.
2. Prep Healthy Food
Healthy food supports brain development as all nurses will know, but actually eating well regularly is another matter entirely. It is a hassle at the end of a long and stressful day to cook a healthy meal, no one is arguing that. Thankfully there are other options.
You can prep meals yourself by using a day off (from studying too) to make meals for the week. Alternatively, you could try a healthy food subscription service or invite friends and family over to help you.
3. Have a Study Space and Time?
Get your brain into the right zone by either choosing a study space or building one at home. The library, a co-working space, or even a cafe are all excellent choices for a study space, or if you have the room at home, a small office (even a makeshift one) will do the trick.
4. Importance of Breaks
You must take breaks. Consider it non-negotiable. The human brain needs a break to process the information and actually commit it to memory. If you push through, you are only punishing yourself for no results.
The ideal amount of breaks per study time ratio is as follows:
- Every hour takes a 5 to 15-minute break.
- Every 2 – 4 hours take a more extended 30-minute break.
There are a variety of methods that have broken the work/break ratio to the minute as well, for example:
- The Pomodoro Technique is to take a 5-minute break every 25 minutes.
- A Desk time study determined you should have a 17-minute break every 52 minutes
Though these breaks may seem like a lot, the tradeoff is that you need to be entirely focused on your work when you are supposed to be working. Turn off social media notifications, and even put your phone in your bag so that distractions are kept to a minimum.
Tips for Studying Success
Some final tips to help you improve your studying habits and how effective your efforts are including:
1. Rewrite Study Material into Your Own Notes
We all process information in different ways, even beyond the three main learning types. How we word things or explain concepts to ourselves is unique and personal, and it cannot be replicated. That is why the best thing for your study notes, especially if you need to memorize a lot as you do in healthcare or in the law, you need to understand what you need on your own terms.
Write out and explain in your own words what you have learned in the article, lecture, or in the textbook. The information should be the same, but it should be explained, so you understand it best. Don’t worry about anyone else. If you have a unique way of association chemical compositions with different types of flowers, then so be it. Whatever helps you learn and memorize is perfect.
2. Make Voice Notes for Eyes-Off Learning
Voice notes are the best choice if you are an auditory learner, but they can actually still be helpful for everyone else, as well. If you drive or bike on your commute to work, you don’t have the luxury of being able to sit down and read through anything, but with text-to-speak or audio notes, you can learn passively on the go.
Working and studying means you have very precious moments alone. By making your commute the time you go through old notes to refresh yourself, you can free up more time at home to just relax.
3. Look Online for Clarification
If you don’t understand something, you have a few options. You can ask your professors or lecturers for help in email. Don’t be afraid to do this; they may not have explained it well and need to revise their teaching method to be better next time.
Other options include looking for informational videos online or even asking others for professional advice on open forums.
4. Try to Read All the Recommended Reading
If you can, try to get through all of the recommended reading options, even if it’s just the introduction and conclusions. It will give you a far greater contextual understanding of what you are learning and is often a great way to dig deeper into how the information you are learning relates to the real world.
Moreover, if you find that the explanation for something important was rather thin, find more resources online. Your university should have institutional access to hundreds of thousands of academic journals, so you will be able to read up on complicated concepts and understand more on your own terms.
5. Form Study Groups with Fellow Students
The most significant resource you should take advantage of is your fellow students. You can create a Facebook group or Discord so that everyone in your course can get together and discuss your course, trade notes, ask and answer questions, and so on. They are all in the same boat as you are learning the same thing week by week. A digital platform may not be as useful as face to face study groups, but it will still give you a lot of great insight you would otherwise be missing
A Quick Recap
Tuition costs typically run into the thousands, and if you only do the work, they tell you then you are wasting your money. You need to take advantage of all of the resources available to you, from advisors to the digital library. Only when you take advantage of all of these additional benefits will you finally get your money’s worth.
Your university is the perfect place to discover yourself, no matter what stage of your life or career you are at. It is also where you can build great habits, learn beyond what your course teaches you, and give your career a leg up you need. It can help you in many ways, so combine good habits with the right resources and succeed whether you are earning your BSN, MSN, or DNP.