Nursing is not only a career that enables you to care for others and make a real difference in the world with your work. As a nurse, you will also have a massive number of opportunities for career growth, progression, and improvement.
With a BSN, qualified registered nurses can move in almost any direction that they like when it comes to their career, whether they want to move into a specialist area of nursing, become an advanced nurse like a family nurse practitioner, work in management and leadership, educate nursing students, or get into nursing research.
Once you are qualified as a nurse, there are several options to take your choice of career in the direction that will suit you best and find work that you enjoy the most.
However, working as a registered nurse is a very busy job, and not all nurses will have the luxury of being able to take a career break or cut down their working hours so that they can study.
Because of this, it is no surprise that flexible online and distance-learning options for advanced nursing degree programs are growing in popularity. More nurses are deciding to study for an advanced degree online due to a range of benefits, including:
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Flexible Study Options
Whether you’re working full-time as a registered nurse while studying for your advanced degree or prefer the idea of study that allows you more time with your family and the ability to keep up with other current commitments, studying for your advanced nursing degree online is often a much more flexible option compared to studying on-campus.
While many nursing degree programs will expect some in-person attendance for clinical training parts of the program, any lectures, classes, and other non-clinical learning can usually be done from home, often at times that suit you best.
For full-time nurses looking to advance their career with a master’s degree in nursing or a nursing PhD from Wilkes University, this is often the most convenient option as it allows you to fit the studies around your personal needs and requirements.
For many full-time nurses who have already paid for a BSN or maybe still repaying student loans for their nursing bachelor’s degree, the idea of saving money on getting an advanced degree can be very appealing.
If you want to get a master’s degree, Ph.D., or doctorate in nursing practice, studying online can often turn out to be much cheaper compared to studying on-campus due to being able to access the majority of learning materials and lectures from home.
When you don’t have to be on campus for a certain time of the day several days a week to be in class, the amount of money you can save on costs such as commuting, food, parking, and more will quickly add up.
In addition, the flexibility mentioned above makes it easier for advanced nursing students to continue in their role as full-time registered nurses as normal, which ultimately means that income loss from studying is not usually as high.
Depending on the advanced nursing role that you are interested in getting into with an advanced nursing degree, getting employer support might be easier than you think, especially if you are studying online since this is likely to be less disruptive to your career right now. Healthcare employers are often happy to support nurses who want to advance their careers since it will be beneficial for both parties.
For example, your employer might be very willing to support your education if you are considering training to become a nurse practitioner since most healthcare employers are looking to hire more nurse practitioners today to fill the positions left open by the shortage of primary care physicians.
Since online degree programs are more flexible and less likely to make it difficult for you to continue working, it might be easier to get support from your employer with tuition and more.
Attend the School of Your Choice
While it might have been easier to relocate and go to your first choice of college while getting your bachelor’s degree, nurses who want to get an advanced degree may often not have that much freedom.
By now, you might have commitments in your local area such as your role as a nurse, a family, house, and more. While finding work as a nurse should not be difficult if you decide to relocate to get your advanced nursing degree in another city or state, it’s often much less hassle to simply study online.
Many online nursing programs offer clinical placements that you can complete at a local hospital or healthcare environment, meaning that you can still attend a college that might be located hundreds of miles away.
Whether you have a specific nursing school in mind for your advanced degree or simply want to explore more options when it comes to where you’ll get your degree from, the online study makes it easier for you to choose from a wider range of colleges without the need to worry about the location.
Nursing school can be stressful, as you may already know if you have a BSN. For registered nurses who decide to work and study for an advanced degree at the same time, stress levels can often rise even higher.
Juggling working as a nurse while getting an advanced degree is not easy, but the good news is that studying online puts you in control and can reduce stress by making it easier for you to balance the two.
When you’re studying for an advanced nursing degree online, there’s no need to rush around making sure that you can get to class or work since you will usually be able to put your own schedule together based on what works best and is least stressful for you.
When they were first introduced, online nursing degrees were often met with skepticism as many believed that students could not get the same quality of education from distance learning.
However, this attitude has definitely changed over the years, and getting your nursing degree online is now something that is widely accepted by a huge range of healthcare employers, with no need to worry about how your potential employer might view your online advanced nursing degree.
Over the past eighteen months, the need for students to complete their education online as a result of COVID19 means that these degree programs are even more recognized and accepted.
Balancing Work and Getting an Advanced Nursing Degree Online
If you want to advance your nursing career, work as an advanced nurse, or get into education or research in nursing, online degree programs are definitely one of the best educational options to choose from.
If you have decided that this is the right learning format for you, there are several things that you can do to make the process easier for you as you balance studying online while working as a registered nurse full-time.
Put a Schedule Together
Since working as a registered nurse is not always consistent and you might be working different hours and shifts every week, regularly looking at your schedule to put together a study schedule for the week ahead that works for you is an important part of staying on top and in control of juggling the two.
However, if you can, it might be worth speaking to your employer to see if they will be able to offer you support by providing you with more consistent working hours for the duration of studying for your advanced degree, to make it easier for you to put together your study schedule and figure out the best times to study.
Stay Physically Fit and Healthy
When you have such a heavy workload while juggling working full-time with studying for an advanced nursing degree, it may be easy to neglect yourself and your own health.
However, staying physically fit and healthy is key to make sure that you have the energy that you need to take on all the work and to avoid getting burned out.
Make sure that you set aside regular time to exercise and get smart when it comes to what you eat; getting a healthy meal subscription box or using a day off to batch cook and freeze healthy meals for the week ahead.
One of the most important things to do for your health while you’re working and studying at the same time is to make sure that you are getting plenty of sleep. Don’t sacrifice your sleep to get more work done since this will only leave you feeling tired, irritated, and burned out.
Ask for Help and Support
As soon as you know that you are going to be studying for an advanced nursing degree while working full-time as a registered nurse, it’s a good idea to ask for help and support from wherever you can get it, as soon as possible.
Your employer might be the first person that you turn to when it comes to asking for support and help since many employers now provide tuition support programs and other types of help students can take advantage of to better manage their time and get better results.
Whether you ask for different working hours to make it easier to fit in time to study or ask for help with your tuition, any help you can get from your employer is always worth taking.
In addition, speak to friends, family, and colleagues and take them up on any offers of practical help that they make. Somebody willing to help you with childcare or invite you for dinner so you don’t have to cook can be massive assistance when the workload is high.
Take Breaks and Pace Yourself
Since studying for an advanced nursing degree along with working full-time as a nurse can be a very heavy workload, even if you are studying online, it’s important to be realistic about it.
Make sure that you do actually have the time to uphold both commitments. Even though it will take you longer to complete the program, the option of studying part-time might be worth taking into consideration if you think that you might struggle.
Whether you decide to study full-time or part-time, making sure that you take regular breaks and have enough time for yourself is important.
Nursing can be a very intense and stressful job, and nurses must take time for themselves even when they are not spending their spare time studying for a master’s degree or Ph.D. Try not to overdo it and be aware of your own limits, so that you can put your own health and wellness first.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
While studying online can be an ideal way to reduce the stress of getting your advanced nursing degree while continuing to work full-time, it’s important to be realistic about the workload and how stressful it still might be for you. There may often be days after a long and hectic shift at work where the last thing that you want is to sit down and spend a couple of hours studying.
Since the potential for stress is so high, it’s important to be proactive when it comes to looking after your mental and emotional strength and keeping yourself psychologically healthy. There are several things that you can do to achieve this and it’s often about finding the strategy that works best for you.
Some find that seeing a therapist regularly is helpful, while others find that journaling, deep breathing techniques, meditation, or even regular exercise are the most effective way to reduce stress levels and improve their mental health.
Today, online degree programs have made it easier than ever to juggle working full-time as a registered nurse while getting an advanced degree to further your career. But while there are several great benefits of opting to study online, it’s still a very heavy workload that you will need to be prepared for.