AURORA, Colo. – May 24, 2012 – Nurses who have been practicing for many years are most likely aware of the industry’s push for RNs to pursue baccalaureate degrees. The call for a BSN-credentialed nursing workforce comes from the Institute of Medicine (IOM), American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and individual health systems – and it’s quickly becoming the norm.
American Sentinel University has launched a new three-part blog series: “Experience Stress-free Success as an Adult Nursing Student” that offers tips and ideas from adult students and professors to help mid-career nurses overcome the anxiety of going back to school and inspire success in earning an advanced nursing degree.
“Many nurses who have earned an associate degree or diploma in nursing have the ability and know-how to advance in the workplace, but they don’t have a BSN degree,” says Victoria Brahe, RN, MSN, assistant dean of undergraduate studies in nursing at American Sentinel University. “Many employers are now requiring nurses to have a bachelor of science nursing degree and this can be very frustrating because not having the formal education needed minimizes a nurse’s contribution and overall potential.”
It is not uncommon for nurses who are accomplished in their field to wonder why they should go back to school: if a nurse already feels she or he knows how to be a good nurse, it adds stress to the thought of going back to school.
“Life is never completely free of stress and anxiety, but students in an online environment have many options available to them to help minimize their levels of stress,” says Brahe.
She offers practical tips to help nurses successfully overcome some of the potential anxiety and stress they may encounter when they go back to school.
- Delegate. Between family, work and school, effective time management becomes an essential skill. Though nurses often are the ones doing everything for everybody, as students, they are often surprised how family and friends are willing to pitch in and help. This might mean the teenage children make dinner one night a week or keep the younger children entertained during mom or dad’s study time.
- Digitize. Being computer-savvy is also essential, though many adult students enter an online nursing degree program with a minimum of computer skills. This is where the support of family and friends also come in. “Students often tell us of the pride their children feel in helping mom or dad use the computer and navigate the Internet,” Brahe says.
- Back up. It is not a matter of if the computer will crash, but when. Everyone is encouraged to back up their computers regularly and email their papers to themselves – anything to prevent the sadness and stress caused by lost work.
- Keep up. It is helpful for students to log into class many times during the week, even for short periods. This keeps one connected with the conversations occurring in the classroom, including responses to their own postings. “It is that ongoing dialogue that makes learning fun and keeping connected and up to date with schoolwork reduces stress and anxiety,” Brahe adds.
- Speak up. In a traditional college setting, students don’t think twice about raising their hand or sticking around after class to ask the instructor a question, but students new to online learning should know that online instructors are likewise available to assist students, even though it isn’t face-to-face. Therefore, students should not hesitate to reach out to their online instructors via email or phone for the same kind of support they receive in the traditional classroom.
- Take care of you. In any endeavor, balance is essential for good health. Nurses are very good at taking care of others, yet often neglect themselves. Nurturing oneself may be as simple as taking the time for a manicure or pedicure, massage, hike, movie, nice dinner out, or a round of golf. Or perhaps what some people need most is that extra hour of sleep.
Brahe says that some students feel they are too old to go back to school and that students will post in their initial classroom introduction that they are “probably the oldest one here.” Yet, quickly they find that is not the case. The reality is that the typical online college student these days is not right out of high school. In fact, the average age of BSN students at American Sentinel University is 45-55 years old.
To help smooth the transition for adult students and to encourage success, American Sentinel assigns each student a dedicated student success advisor (SSA). Though most schools have academic advisors, this role is often limited to providing information about degree requirements and what class to take next.
American Sentinel’s advisors do much more. Students can contact their SSA at any time regarding academic or personal issues. The SSA’s know all of their students by name and often talk to them weekly by phone. If there is a problem with a course, SSA’s often consult with the professors to provide students the academic support they need – which is especially important for adults who go back to school.
Though online RN-BSN programs are becoming commonplace, not all schools understand how online courses differ from ground-based courses.
Built on an adult learning model, American Sentinel focuses on the principles of learning, and its professors specialize in working with online students in particular to provide them with a remarkable, interactive and valuable educational experience.
To learn tips and ideas about overcoming the anxiety of going back to school, visit the ‘Experience Stress-free Success as an Adult Nursing Student‘ blog series and share your comments.
For nurses who have been considering advancing their education, now is a good time to develop new skills and empower themselves with knowledge through a CCNE-accredited online RN to BSN or RN to MSN degree. American Sentinel University is an innovative, accredited provider of affordable online nursing degrees, including programs that prepare nurses for a specialty in areas like case management and informatics.
About American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University delivers the competitive advantages of accredited online degree programs in nursing, informatics, MBA Health Care, DNP Executive Leadership and DNP Educational Leadership. Its affordable, flexible bachelor’s and master’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The university is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). The Accrediting Commission of DETC is listed by the U.S. Department of Education as a nationally recognized accrediting agency and is a recognized member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.