In this online nursing school guide, we’ll provide you with some guidelines to help you remain disciplined, study effectively, and stay motivated while studying for your online nursing school program. Suppose you learn the skills needed to stay on track with independent study now. In that case, it can also benefit you in the future because these days, a large proportion of nurses obtain their advanced qualifications through online courses.
After the summer break, you may have to continue with or even start off your nursing studies with online learning. With persistent community transmission of COVID-19 in many states and further outbreaks on campuses, many colleges and universities choose to carry on with the online instruction introduced at the start of the pandemic.
Depending on the learning style, some students adapt better to independent study than others. If you are one of those who prefer the structure of attending classes and face-to-face instruction, you could find online learning quite challenging. The advantage of flexibility in terms of when and how you study can also be the most significant drawback. It’s very easy to become distracted and fall behind in your study program.
1. Establish a regular daily routine
Some people are early birds who study better early in the morning while others are night owls. A big plus of online learning is that you can choose to work when you are at your best.
However, you must design a daily schedule around your chosen times. Then stick to your schedule and allow it to become a routine – like you would if you were attending regular classes.
Take your breaks: Don’t forget to provide for breaks and days off in your schedule. Share your program with others in your household and your friends so that they understand not to interrupt you during your working hours.
2. Create a working space
You are less likely to study effectively and efficiently on your bed or in an area where family members pass through and stop for an idle chat. If possible, create a space in your home where you will “go to work” and not be interrupted or distracted.
You should have a desk or a table with a place to leave your laptop, books, and writing materials. A significant benefit of a dedicated workspace is that your subconscious will eventually switch to study mode as soon as you sit down at your desk.
Can’t find a place to study? If you cannot establish a suitable workspace at home or find that the environment is too distracting, consider finding somewhere else to go and study, for example, the local library.
3. Don’t skip the introductory material for your courses
Begin your semester’s online study by first reading all the orientation material provided by your instructors. They spend a lot of time developing these instructions and guidelines to explain all the requirements and enhance your learning experience. However, online instructors often expressed frustration that students make unnecessary mistakes because they fail to read the instructions – a typical human failure!
The initial guidelines will probably indicate how much time you should spend on the course material per week in relation to the course credits. You will also need to check on any relevant dates and times of, for example, live online lectures, discussion forums, and deadlines for assignments. Use all this information to plan and diarize your study program so that you can keep up to date.
4. Connect with fellow students
Being connected with fellow students will help you stay on track, feel less isolated, and boost your motivation. Engage as much as possible in online presentations, discussion forums, and group work. Get to know and connect with your fellow students.
Get a study partner! You can even approach someone to become an accountability partner and check in on each other’s progress daily.
5. Connect with your instructors
Get to know your instructors – they will probably have provided information in the orientation material about how and when they can be contacted.
Reach out to your instructor whenever you get stuck and need guidance – interaction with them is what they are there for and can be an insightful experience. Clarification via an e-mail or brief video-conference could potentially save you days of stress and frustration or a poor grade on a piece of work. Check the feedback you receive on assignments, use it for further learning, and contact your instructor if anything is not clear to you.
Also, connect with faculty should you have any personal issues that might cause you to fall behind. For example, you may need to be proactive in getting an extension on due dates for assignments. Life does not always go as planned, and they will usually be accommodating. When needed, also use other resources provided by the educational institution such as student support services, mentors, and counselors.
6. Find varied learning strategies
While learning online, you will mostly be reading, researching, and writing. Unfortunately also, during the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing students will generally only be able to complete theoretical coursework and not any clinical assignments. This could affect your grasp of some of the clinical material in your studies.
Your instructors might suggest varied learning strategies and use some virtual simulations. However, with some creativity, you can add other experiences to strengthen your learning and make it more interesting. Keep in mind that the more often you repeat and interact with specific content, especially if you can do so in different ways, the better it will become fixed in your memory.
The following are just a few learning experiences you can try:
- Excellent videos on almost any topic imaginable are available on YouTube. For example: search for videos explaining anatomy, physiology, procedures and treatments, and specific diseases.
- Practice taking a medical history and doing a basic physical assessment on your friends and family members.
- While studying a specific disease, try and find someone who is suffering from it and conduct a virtual interview with them about their experiences. You could maybe even provide some patient education.
- When you have finished studying a particular nursing topic, do some self-assessment by answering online NCLEX questions on it.
7. Don’t neglect self-care
When you’re studying alone can often be difficult to maintain your drive and motivation. You might also let self-care slide when you’re stuck at home every day.
Get dressed every day before you start working. Ensure that you eat a healthy balanced diet and get the needed 7-8 hours of sleep every night. Go outdoors regularly for some fresh air and exercise – this is important to keep your body healthy and the release of neurotransmitters that help you to think and focus.
Boost your internal motivation by treating yourself to rewards. Celebrate achievements like finishing up a section of work or completing an assignment. Your rewards should be something that you personally enjoy, like a special cup of coffee, a bubble bath, meditating in the garden, a movie, or cooking a favorite meal.
Lastly, as long as you show up and do the work that is expected, don’t worry too much if your grades are not as good as you are used to. After all, these are unusual and challenging times, and no-one ever expects you to be perfect.
Succeed in the online learning game
Follow the guidelines which we have provided, and you will stand a good chance of doing well with your online learning. You’ll also develop habits that will be useful for the rest of your life.
These online nursing school tips will help you to become actively involved in your own learning and to stay motivated. They will also help you develop the accountability and high degree of discipline and self-motivation required for independent study, which is also vital in your career as a nurse.