Moving your career forward by excelling in an online RN to BSN degree program isn’t just a matter of personal preference. It’s an essential goal. Although you know that completing a more advanced degree program is the next step in your professional journey, it never hurts to have extra direction. Applying these five pointers may help.
1. Fulfill the Prerequisites
Most schools maintain general requirements for admission that also apply to nursing degree candidates. You may need to meet GPA minimums, possess a certain number of completed RN credit hours from an accredited institution and have CPR certification. Some programs mandate that you hold licensure in their state.
Fulfilling admission criteria is the first step to degree success. Program requirements vary, so make sure that you understand yours before paying for the administrative costs, background checks and drug screenings that many institutions include in their admissions fees.
2. Pick a Program With a Realistic Timeframe
Many nurses are attracted to programs that are advertised as letting them earn their degrees faster. Competency-based education programs can potentially reduce your time to graduation, but your rate of progress is up to you. If your degree is awarded based on competency units instead of credit hours, you’ll still have to do the work even if it doesn’t take you quite as long.
Your focus shouldn’t be on graduating at the fastest speed but rather at the most practical speed for your personal situation. Online RN to BSN degree programs let you work at your own pace, so chose a sustainable option that doesn’t burn you out, especially if you’re still holding down a regular nursing job.
3. Plan Your Clinical Schedule Wisely
Many online RN to BSN degree curricula include clinicals or field experiences. Although you’ll still complete the majority of your coursework from home, you’ll have to travel to practices or hospitals for the clinical work.
Clinical requirements differ by program and institution. Your college may help you identify practice opportunities in your locale, but you’ll still be responsible for the logistics. There’s a good chance that you’ll have to pay for transportation, and you’ll be held to professional standards at the practices where you serve. Ensure that you have reliable travel arrangements in place before you need to rely on them, and budget for the added costs.
4. Permit an Appropriate Amount of Study Time
Don’t confuse self-paced learning with a vacation. You’ll need to devote a certain number of weekly hours to studying, and it’s best to keep yourself on an honest schedule.
Check your program’s syllabi and consult online forums to find out what kinds of study experiences prior nursing candidates had with your chosen university. Also take your own study habits and other personal responsibilities into account.
5. Treat Your Program Pathway Like a Job
Each online RN to BSN degree program includes distinct requirements for clinicals, coursework and class completion. In addition to setting aside dedicated blocks of time for your weekly study activities, it’s important to define long-term benchmarks and milestone targets.
Managing the amount of time you spend earning your degree might reduce your program costs, and it’s a great way to ensure you keep making progress. Looking ahead can also help you adapt to any unexpected challenges you may face along the way.
As you hone your professional nursing skills, coursework, scheduling and clinicals are definitely going to test you mentally and physically. Nonetheless, proactive planning will make you more likely to excel in your online RN to BSN degree program.