What Do Nurses Get Out of the Experience of Going Back to School?

Five super-benefits of the adult education experience

What do accomplished nurses actually get out of the experience of a degree program? After all, it’s an endeavor that threatens to disrupt your family life and work schedule; one that conjures fear and anxiety at the thought of having to take a test, or write a paper, or succeed at something.

Nurses who have gone back to school for BSN or MSN degrees tell us not only that receiving their degree a rewarding experience, but that they wish they had gone back to school sooner.  The top five reasons for that realization are outlined below. Yet there’s another relevant factor in today’s adult learning experience that has also opened to doorway to lifelong benefits. That factor is the online format for education.

Online learning makes it possible to gain tremendous amounts of knowledge from a personalized workstation in the comfort of your home, while you are many miles away from other students and the brain-power of gifted instructors. The online learning model erases time and space challenges. Its efficiency saves time and money; it’s an organized, engaging way to share information. The informational reach of the Internet and collaboration with other adults is what sets the stage for the reading, comprehension, and writing essential to earning a degree online. In short, the online learning model has streamlined the education process. It highlights knowledge and eliminates what is no longer necessary for obtaining a degree—like the need to find a parking space in a crowded university lot, or to fit scheduled classes into your own schedule.

Online learning sets the stage. But what is about the education process itself that makes nurses wish they had gotten their degree sooner? These are five universally positive results that have been experienced by a vast number of nurses who have taken the plunge. When you’re having second thoughts about your decision to obtain a degree, keep these five super-benefits of education in mind.

1. Education enables you to solidify your role as a professional.

Going back to school can help you advance your career.  You will be more equipped with advanced skills and knowledge, allowing you to stand out as a respected member of a multi-disciplinary team and as a capable nurse leader. Education also inspires nurses to fully embrace the areas of expertise most important to a chosen career specialty; it’s the push needed to become an academic, intellectual, and emotional authority in a specific field, like informatics, infection control, or case management. In this way, a degree gives you a competitive edge and allows you to stay relevant in a changing health care environment.

2. Education provides nurses with a strong feeling of confidence.

It’s true: nurses who hold a BSN degree or higher report that they feel better prepared to make critical decisions, resulting in more optimal patient care. “I walk taller, and I feel like I’m working in a level above, a level that is higher than where I used to be,” said one nurse who had recently completed her master’s degree in nursing education. Getting a degree can also give you more educational parity with other members of the health care team—like physicians, pharmacists, social workers, and physical therapists that are typically educated at the graduate and post-graduate level.

3. Education enables nurses to act as mentors.

Education can inspire nurses to share new-found knowledge with younger or less experienced nurses. Even if your hospital doesn’t have a formal mentoring program, you have many opportunities to share knowledge and useful insights. When you make time to offer support and friendship to a less experienced nurse, you’re helping to promote competent nursing practice by influencing the quality of care that nurse is able to provide.

4. Education provides you with the personal empowerment to balance life, family, and career.

Education has the power to expand your horizons. It’s very much like foreign travel in this regard – you simply can’t visit another culture and not feel changed in some way. Your viewpoints and outlook on life quite naturally change when you have more information and experiences to draw from. So completing a BSN or MSN program can make you feel more well-rounded personally as well as professionally, which can translate into a healthier work-life balance.

As a side note, research reveals that nurses at Magnet hospitals – which require most nurses to have BSNs – are significantly more engaged in their work than nurses at other hospitals, reporting greater job satisfaction. And when your professional life is productive and rewarding, your personal life is more likely to be happy as well.

5. Education allows you to amass new academic skills that will serve you throughout your career and life.

Many nurses begin the education process with huge trepidations concerning their lack of computer skills or ability to write skillfully and in accordance with APA standards. However, a supportive adult learning environment nurtures writing skills. Moreover, writing skills help you create organized structures of thought. Writing skills provide you an ability to express your thoughts with clarity and impact. Many nurses feel that their new confidence as writers serves to organize their thinking and enables them to achieve greater understandings of complex subject matter. Writing skills also provide that amazing ability to impart vital information to others in a clear and compelling way.

Empower yourself with knowledge is through an online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in case management, infection control, and executive leadership.

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