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Tips for Managing an Online Degree as a Professional Nurse

For registered nurses, going back to school to complete a BS in Nursing degree may seem like a daunting challenge. With demanding work and family schedules, it may be difficult to determine where one may find the time to study.

Luckily, accredited institutions like Rutgers offer online completion degree programs that are designed for working, registered nurses. However, it can be challenging for nurses to juggle both their job and their personal obligations at once, as each comes with its own set of tasks and responsibilities. Graduating with a BS in Nursing can afford students a number of benefits, from access to higher salaries to better job security. Therefore, it is crucial that professional nurses find ways to balance completion of an online degree with their full-time career. Here are some ways nurses can do just that:

Designate a personal class schedule

Convenience is one of the greatest benefits of an online nursing education, but that element relies heavily on students setting aside time to work on their schoolwork. Professional nurses should create a personal schedule for the tasks related to completing their BS in Nursing, U.S. News and World Report recommended. Whether this is putting in hours after working the day shift at the hospital or on the weekends, nurses need to carve out time to finish their studies.

Structure and organization are critical to success, so RNs who stick to a particular timeframe for their education may see the best results. By creating a schedule, students can avoid missing important deadlines or having to miss work in order to complete their studies.

Ask for help

Balancing both a full- or part-time job and coursework is difficult enough, let alone without any assistance. Professional nurses should not shy away from help during this particularly stressful time. Instead, they should encourage it, Monster College suggested. Nurses who are married or have children should explain to their families the reasons behind their decision to complete their bachelor’s degree as well as how the additional time could affect current schedules and expectations.

Asking friends and family for support can seem like a lot to request, but their assistance can make the impossible seem possible. Offering tokens of appreciation and gratitude will make people feel as though they are not being taken advantage of and that their help is valued. With the comfort of their loved ones’ support, students can focus on completing their studies successfully.

Connect with other students

In addition to external support from family members and friends, students should also attempt to connect with other students in the program. While studying alone can help students maintain their concentration, connecting with fellow students who are facing the same challenges can relieve stress and keep students motivated. With support from people going through the same thing, RNs can feel less isolated during the process of earning their education, according to the American Psychological Association.

Eliminate distractions

With the prevalence of mobile devices and social media these days, there are plenty of things that can pull nurses’ focus away from studying. Although it is important to take mental health breaks every now and then, RNs attempting to earn their BS in Nursing should get rid of as many distractions as possible during their scheduled study time. Disconnecting from digital distractions is a good place to start, according to Entrepreneur. Eliminating disturbances from text messages, emails and phone calls allows students to focus on what’s most important at the time. While it is important to be proactive in preventing distractions, some interruptions are inevitable. To combat this issue, students should anticipate interruptions and incorporate additional time into their study schedule so their daily calendar accurately reflects the potential for other activities.

Know your limits

Every nurse is capable of a different workload when studying to complete his or her BS in Nursing. While some may be able to handle a full-time caseload, others may struggle to complete the obligations of both their education and their career. It is important for students to be aware of their limits when it comes to juggling responsibilities. Honesty can go a long way. If students keep their full-time job only to discover they cannot manage the tasks of both, they should be forthright with their supervisors. Switching to a part-time caseload may be possible if nurses are straightforward. This type of transition may be more difficult if professionals speak up only after managers have noticed certain problems, such as decline in work ethic or increase in job-related errors.

The Rutgers online program offers RNs a high level of flexibility. Program directors and educators are able to work with students’ schedules to ensure they are not overwhelmed by both their job and their education. RNs can scale their coursework up or down depending on their ability in order to earn their degree in their own time.

The ability to keep a nursing job – either in a full-time or part-time capacity – is advantageous for people earning a BS in Nursing. Not only does this “day job” help RNs remain current in the field, but it keeps career momentum moving forward while opening these students up to unique opportunities and possible promotions.

Get rest

The stress of working as a professional nurse while also studying for a bachelor’s degree can be overwhelming and tiring. Although students try to set a schedule for their education, long hours may ensue. Sleep can be one of the first things sacrificed as important tasks get in the way, but that can be detrimental to a person’s health and well-being as well as his or her ability to succeed in both work and education. It is vital for RNs to remain well-rested throughout their online program, as proper sleep will ensure students are able to focus on the responsibilities of both obligations, according to Forbes.

Setting two daily deadlines can help nurses make sure they get the sleep and rest they need – and deserve. The first should be the time nurses want to complete their coursework by, similar to the 5 o’clock stop for a 9-to-5 job. The second deadline would be the latest they are willing to work into the night, and this time should be a reasonable one. This can be especially difficult for those professionals operating on the night shift. These RNs could attempt to complete their coursework prior to their scheduled hours, while still making sure they give themselves enough time to relax before starting work.

The Rutgers online RN to BS in Nursing program is able to accommodate the working nurse. Students must find effective ways to juggle the two responsibilities successfully, as it is challenging to work full-time and attend school. Students considering furthering their educations should look at balance. It is very difficult to work full time and go to school full time. Consider your responsibilities and set realistic goals. By creating a study schedule, asking for support, eliminating distractions, getting the proper rest and more, RNs can do just that.

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