Of course, a nursing degree still requires substantial hands-on experience in simulation labs and with real patients, but many accelerated BSN programs now offer at least the core theory courses in an online format.
Being an online nursing student isn’t for everyone, though. It takes a certain personality type and skill set to succeed in such a self-directed environment. Do you have what it takes? Check out these common traits of successful students who are working towards an online nursing degree:
- Savvy scheduling. The greatest benefit of online coursework is also its greatest challenge: you set the schedule. You’re free to take classes, listen to lectures, engage in online learning activities or review content any time you want. But you have to make that time. Similar to successful freelancers, successful online students set a specific schedule for their coursework at the start of each day or week and execute it religiously. It takes a fair amount of self-discipline to shut out distractions and honor the time you’ve put aside for your studies, which brings us to the next item. . .
- A firm “no”. Especially for online students who have family or work obligations, the ability to set limits and enforce them is a must. No matter when you decide to do your online coursework, there will always be something else you could be doing, or feel like you should be doing, or have someone asking you to do. Don’t. Say no. When you set aside time for school, make sure family members, friends, co-workers and others know that you’re off-limits during that time unless there’s an emergency. It’s up to you to be the guardian of your own time, because no one else will. Too many yes’s can turn into delays and distractions, starting you down a slippery slope that leaves you significantly behind on your coursework. Plus, good habits are self-reinforcing, so the sooner you establish firm boundaries and ground rules, the easier it will be for you (and everyone else) to adhere to them consistently.
- Technological enthusiasm. Being open-minded and willing to embrace technology doesn’t mean you have to be on the Geek Squad. It means you’re open to exploring the various technologies offered to you as an online student. Today’s online learning platforms have a number of built-in features intended to help you stay engaged with your professors, your fellow students and your course material. Use these tools. Make the most of them. Make sure you DO interact with your teachers and classmates, and take the time to complete the online learning activities designed to enhance your understanding of the material. Schools typically don’t offer online degree programs unless they have the robust technology to support them, so to maximize your success in an online program, be prepared to take full advantage of that technology. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. It’s your education, and you should benefit from all the tools available to you.
- Commitment to your classmates. Just because you may not see your classmates face-to-face every day doesn’t mean they won’t still play a big part in your success. Even as an online student, you’ll learn a lot from your fellow students and benefit from the diverse perspectives they bring to the program. In fact, most online programs include some amount of group project work, and the worst thing you can do is be the one who never shows up to the meetings or weasels out of your share of the assignment. Nursing, in particular, is a highly collaborative profession, so nursing school purposely fosters teamwork among its students in order to prepare them for today’s healthcare jobs. Playing an active role in your classmates’ success only helps you to ensure your own.
So, think you have what it takes to be an online nursing student? Check out our listing of nursing programs to get started! Or better yet, inquire today about which nursing programs with no wait list you could qualify for.