Starting a career in nursing is a great idea that will open up so many exciting career opportunities and help the community – no matter where you end up working! With large shortages and growing demand, there has never been a better time to get started in nursing, especially as an RN.
Routes into Nursing
There are so many great routes into nursing, meaning there is an option that suits your needs and goals. Some aim to complete their degree as fast as possible; others are happy to spread out their education so that they can continue to work or parent.
Online vs. Campus Degrees
One of the first decisions you’ll make that will affect the approach you take is whether you complete an online degree or a campus-based degree. Do keep in mind that only the coursework of an online degree is, in fact, online. There will also typically be a short on-campus residency and, of course, your clinical placement that will require your presence.
The right option for you depends on what stage you are in life and how you learn. Some find it incredibly difficult to keep their own schedule and are therefore better suited to an on-campus education. Others would only be able to pursue a nursing degree if it is available online.
Understand your needs and what would help you get the most out of your education.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time
With both online and on-campus options, you will usually have the choice between attending full-time and part-time. Part-time education is usually designed for those who are busy parents or full-time workers. Online you would be able to study when you need, either before or after work and with an on-campus option, you would typically attend night school.
If your goal is to complete the education portion of your career as fast as possible, look for a full-time degree. Full-time degrees don’t leave enough time for you to work full-time, and are usually best committed to fully.
How to Speed Through Your Degree
If you already have a bachelor’s degree, then you could transfer credits over and fast-track. This is a popular option for second-career professionals since it lets you graduate sooner and make use of your existing education.
The fastest way to complete a nursing degree is with an accelerated BSN online program. Click here to see the full list of prerequisite credits that you’ll need to apply. If you don’t have them all, get in touch with the admissions board to find out where and how you can complete those credits. You could take night-school classes, for example, and fill in the missing credits.
Once you have all the prerequisites, you can then enroll. Accelerated degrees are intensive, full-time options. They take just 16 months to complete, however, making them a great choice for those who want to make a big career shift fast.
How to Establish a Routine for Success
On-campus degrees establish a routine for you. So long as you attend classes on time and do the work assigned, you are well on your way to success. Online degrees, however, are a different beast entirely.
Most online degrees let you log in at any time, from anywhere. This gives you a lot more freedom to learn at a schedule that works for you. Some are far more active in the mornings, for example. Others only start to wake up properly and can be productive by the time evening comes.
The good news is that, with an online degree, you have the control and the choice. The bad news is that it is entirely up to you to stick with your routine. Building a good routine is important even if you have set times for certain courses. Sometimes you will have to be online at a specific hour to attend a live lecture or a course session. Other than that, however, your education will be up to you.
Starting a new routine can be difficult. It can even be exhausting. Establishing a new routine in advance can help you learn more about yourself and also get accustomed to the new schedule.
The good news is that you can start today, long before you even apply to a nursing program. One of the biggest tips to help you succeed is to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Unless you already exercise regularly, eat well, and get a good night’s rest fairly consistently, there are things to change.
Make small changes and gradually improve them. Your goal is to replace unhealthy habits or foods with healthier ones. In some cases, a little bit of effort will go a long way. Keep your sleep schedule consistent to start with. Over a few days, your body’s internal clock will start to reset. This means it will help you feel tired when it’s bedtime and start to wake you up naturally in the mornings.
Aim to get seven to ten hours of sleep per night. How much you need will depend on you. Factors like age will also play a part. Sometimes you will be better off on a split sleep schedule. This means you sleep at night and then have a short nap during the day. While this type of routine doesn’t work for those in-office, it can be a great way to stay energized and commit to morning and afternoon learning during your degree.
Other routines to consider involve your diet. Switching out foods that don’t offer much in terms of nutritional value for those with said nutritional value can make a big difference to your ability to learn and manage stress.
Exercising lightly can also help, especially if you do a short routine before you start studying. Exercise increases circulation, which in turn can boost oxygen flow to the brain.
Memory Tricks to Help You Study
There are many ways to help you learn, memorize, and study better throughout your degree:
1. Explain Concepts in Your Own Words
We all understand things differently. Though a lot of effort is taken to present information in a way that is clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is memorable. To make the study materials memorable, rewrite them in your own words, with your own explanations.
2. Test Yourself
Testing yourself is a great way to make a game out of your studying and can help prepare you for your exam.
3. Study in Short Batches, Regularly
Study in short bursts, but keep it regular. This will help you commit what you learn to your long-term memory. Keep doing this even when you feel like you already know the material by heart. Rather than study full notes, however, keep cutting back until you are essentially left with just a few words that spark your memory, in case you do forget.
4. Create Acronyms
Acronyms that sound similar to words are a great way to remember long, complex names. If you already have a lot of acronyms, try putting them in a short, silly sentence to get your brain to link back to the right one.
5. Use Mnemonics
We tend to remember sentences and stories better than straight facts. By using mnemonics, you can remember information better. An example of this technique is the order of operation in math classes. This order, parentheses, exponents, multiply, divide, add, and subtract, is often taught to students as Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally or another similar sentence.
6. Talk Aloud
If you remember things you hear, then talking aloud can be a great way to remember information. It also helps if you continually re-explain things to yourself. To help you study on the go, try recording yourself as well so that you can listen back later.
7. Use Images or Other Visual Cues
Visual cues are a great way to remember. Diagrams and pictures can help you link information to what you see. You can also use images like cartoons to help you get to the information you need. For example, you can have a small bear sticker next to a certain topic. By imagining a bear, later on, you can help your brain go back to that information.
8. Create a Memory Palace
Memory palaces are imaginative tricks to help you remember. Essentially create a room of some sort in your mind. You then imagine yourself putting the information in a certain spot. You can even add visual cues to help you remember later.
9. Use Spatial Cues
Spatial cues are a great way to remember, especially in healthcare. If you need to remember all the bones in the body, for example, it helps to have a skeleton on hand to physically touch and place the name of the bone to the place on the body.
10. Use Metaphors or Analogies
Sometimes a great way to remember is to use a metaphor or analogy. In essence, you’re creating a story to help you remember. You could, for example, create a fictional patient with a certain ailment to help you remember symptoms and treatments.