When it comes to going back to school, a common anxiety held by RNs is the fear of being plunged into a foreign culture – a classroom filled with 18-year old nursing students right out of high school, for example, or stern instructors ready to pounce on any error. The good news is, there are many fine online BSN programs that are built on an adult learning model, providing a culture you’ll easily fit into. With the current push for nurses to advance their education, large numbers of nurses in their 30s, 40s, and 50s are returning to school – so online programs have evolved to meet the needs of nurses like you.
When you’re researching online BSN programs, find out as much as you can about a school’s culture and environment, and look for the following:
- Interaction with your peers, through an adult learning model. This means your work experience and existing bedside skills will form the foundation for learning new academic concepts related to nursing – so you won’t just be memorizing facts for the test. On an experiential level, you’ll be able to immediately relate to your course work and apply it to your current job. And you’ll be able to collaborate with other BSN-bound nurses, through group discussions that allow you to share your own thoughts and benefit from the experiences of others. The key to a truly interactive culture is instructors who encourage feedback and persuade everyone to participate – the result is a truly dynamic learning experience.
- Responsive faculty members who are invested in your success. Ideally, you’ll have something in common with your instructors right off the bat: the fact that you are all dedicated, experienced nurses with a desire to never stop learning. You want instructors who take a personalized approach to helping you realize your full potential, and who are readily available to address any concerns or problems you have, by phone or by email.
- Supportive advisors that stick with you. Look for a school that assigns a dedicated student success advisor – this is a great sign that the school regards you as a real person, with a need for ongoing encouragement and support, rather than just one more student to push through the system. At American Sentinel University, our personal success advisors are well acquainted with our nursing course work and can help to guide you as you become comfortable with distance learning. Your advisor will be available to you through phone, email, or live chat, and can also help you navigate computer issues, the research process, etc.
- Comprehensive resources that put success within your grasp. Look for support resources that include a virtual librarian, 24/7 access to research materials, online tutoring, orientation programs, and chat rooms that let you connect with other students in the same boat as you. These resources can vary greatly between schools, either in scope or the hours they are available. For example, American Sentinel provides complimentary, 24/7 access to NetTutor, the leader in online tutoring services. For example, students in our RN to BSN programs can submit papers or questions to NetTutor at any time and receive quick, detailed feedback. We also offer My Campus – a portal to a variety of resources, including articles, webinars, student message boards, forums, and social media. My Campus also allows students to create networks based on their own interests and needs. If you want to connect with a smaller group of people with whom you have certain things in common, My Campus makes it easy.