8 Tips for Online Learning as a Nursing Student

Online nursing school is an excellent option for many. Some tips for online learning include knowing your learning type, creating an effective learning environment, managing time well, having good organization, connecting with peers, treating it like an in-person class, participating, and pursuing extra help.

nurse sitting at desk working on laptop

The path to a nursing career is different for everyone. Those who studied other majors in college, entered non-nursing careers, or decided to become a nurse much later in life are welcome in the profession.

However, it can be difficult for these students to restart college while managing other areas of their lives. That is why many schools offer online or hybrid programs, such as an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing, that are more adaptable to a non-traditional nursing student lifestyle.

Online learning presents additional challenges since it differs from in-person classes. It can be helpful to explore study tips for online classes before diving in so that you are well-prepared for the ups and downs of nursing school. Here are eight nursing study tips before applying to a nursing program.

nurse in workplace with stethoscope

Exploring nursing as a second career? Here are eight reasons why it is such a great choice.

1. Identify Your Learning Type

A common misconception of online education is that it is optimized for only some learners. But online school has taken leaps and bounds recently, making learning possible for visual, auditory, and even tactile learners. Many students find that moving at their own pace is better than a traditional classroom setting, which can feel too fast or slow.

Do a bit of reflection before you enroll in classes. How do you learn best? Is it easier for you to read a textbook or watch a video? How hands-on do you need a lesson to be? Pursuing educational strategies that work for you will be helpful as you begin classes.

If you need someone to explain it, try some recordings or videos and follow along. Take plenty of notes if writing things out helps you study. Ensure you are actively looking for the features of your online course that will help you learn.

2. Create an Effective Learning Environment

Creating an effective study and learning space can be challenging, especially when it overlaps with other parts of your life. Many online students prefer to work in a bedroom, while others want that to be their resting space. Some students work at the kitchen table, while others find that to be too distracting. Some even prefer a crowded area such as a coffee shop. Whatever environment works best for you, prepare it ahead of time and plan to sustain it.

nurse using laptop at desk

Try designating a desk space for school. This can help your mind focus while there, ensuring you stay organized with homework, study materials, etc. If you live with others, such as family, children, or roommates, ensure they know where and when you will work on your classes to make that space as focused as possible.

3. Manage Your Time

Many feel apprehensive about the online learning format because they don’t believe they can be self-motivated enough to succeed in the program. While dedication is necessary to succeed in any nursing program, good time-management skills are integral to staying on top of things in a fast-paced online environment.

Start by creating a calendar through your graduation date. Put important dates such as midterms, finals, lab days, clinical rotation days, and your prospective licensure test date. Then, fill in each week with your study schedule and specific checkpoints to help you reach your learning goals.

4. Be Organized

Organization is vital to managing online schoolwork. Since you are primarily managing things yourself, you must find ways to track all your tasks and due dates without becoming overwhelmed. This might look different for everyone, but it is universally essential for online nursing students.

If you prefer hard copies of your work, create a binder or file cabinet to arrange it. If you prefer to go digital, create a folder organization system in your preferred database. Whatever you choose, you need access to essential study materials, notes you have taken, helpful videos, and anything else you might want to refer to later. This will also help reduce the amount of confusing clutter in your space to reduce stress and ensure everything runs smoothly.

5. Connect with Peers

Online school can feel isolating because you are not sitting in a classroom learning alongside your peers throughout the week. However, this does not have to be the case. Online nursing programs typically put you in cohorts where you take classes together, just like in a traditional nursing program. You will likely complete your labs and clinicals with these same peers.

three smiling nurses in different colored scrubs

Whether or not you complete your online classes as a cohort, contact your classmates and form a study group. This can be beneficial as you can surround yourself with people going through the same experience. Exchange phone numbers and reach out with questions. Do your best to build up those relationships during labs and clinicals. This will help you feel motivated and push forward when the nursing program gets difficult.

6. Treat It Like an In-Person Class

Although you are not in a physical classroom, taking online classes just as seriously as a traditional class is vital. The content you learn is necessary for your future nursing career, where lives are at stake daily.

While it can be tempting, don’t complete the classwork just to turn in the assignment and earn a grade. Do your best to absorb the knowledge. Take detailed notes and file them away. Do your work with integrity. Regardless of whether assignments or quizzes are proctored, be honest about what you turn in. It is better to earn a low grade and study harder than to achieve a high grade and enter the workplace without thoroughly learning nursing skills.

nursing students in classroom

Nursing school can be challenging, but here are some ways to succeed in your program.

7. Participate

With a schedule full of studying, labs, and commuting to clinical rotations, it can feel like participating in online classes is a lower priority. In reality, it is vital to your success. Participation can determine how well you learn the information and allow you to connect with peers and instructors in meaningful ways.

Each school will have a different online format, so participation requirements may vary. If there is a discussion board, be as active as you can. Ask the difficult questions and work with your peers to search for answers. Explore all resources that your instructor provides. If they offer you these materials, it is for a good reason and because they care about your success.

8. Pursue Extra Help

Even though the professors are working with you through your computer screen, they are there to help. You can get your questions answered without waiting for an in-person instructor.

nurse speaking with doctor in hospital

Reach out through email or a chat feature whenever you need. No question is too small, and it never hurts to ask for clarity. It can even be beneficial to schedule office hours over a video call. If your professor has in-person office hours on campus, occasionally schedule a time after a lab for an extra boost. Even though you are online, you are still a nursing student with access to these available resources.

Take the First Step

If these tips for online learning were helpful, get started by filling out the online form today. You will be connected with nursing schools that fit your criteria and lifestyle so you can learn more about their programs. This service is free of charge, and you are under no obligation to any schools who contact you.

FNS logo texture wallpaper

Ready to start your nursing journey?