When you’re in an online nursing program, there are many ways to take advantage of all that the experience has to offer. Nursing school can be challenging to manage, especially if you’re also a working adult with numerous responsibilities; however, you can make the most of your program with thoughtful due diligence.
Network, network, network!
The importance of networking cannot be stressed enough, and your networking should start from the moment you sit down in that virtual classroom.
If you’re in an online RN to BSN program, you already know that everyone in your cohort is a nurse, so you have a common denominator from which to build rapport. While it’s true that your fellow students may live in other states or countries, this does not diminish their value. It’s a small world in the 21st century, and you never know what connections or knowledge your colleagues may have.
Expand selected virtual classroom friendships to Skype, phone, text, email, and even in-person visits when possible. Connect on LinkedIn with fellow students, and be a supportive, giving classmate.
You can also network with your professors, preceptors, mentors, and clinical leaders. Connect with these professionals on LinkedIn, and lean more deeply into the relationships that have the most traction and potential value.
Utilize the platforms to their potential
Does your online nursing program have chat rooms and other features where you can dig in, ask questions, and interact with professors and students? Use them; they’re there for a reason.
If your school has programs or apps for organizing your assignments, use those apps to keep on top of your game. If there are ways to be helpful to others within those apps or platforms, be of assistance to those who need you.
Students at traditional schools can have coffee together, go out for lunch, or take a walk between classes. Since you can’t do that with your cohort (unless a fellow student happens to live nearby), be certain to use available electronic platforms to connect with other students, professors, and preceptors in meaningful ways.
Enjoy the flexibility
Online nursing programs offer amazing flexibility; you can do your assignments in the wee hours of the morning after getting off a 3 to 11 shift, or settling onto the couch to study after you get the kids off to school.
Many students choose online programs because they’re busy working professionals with full lives and families. If you’ve enrolled in an online nursing program because you’re life is very busy, take advantage of the flexibility of your program by figuring out how to fit your schoolwork into your life as comfortably and efficiently as possible.
Be certain to maintain awareness of the ways in which you can take advantage of your online nursing program’s offerings. Whether it’s networking, online communication and organization platforms, or other unique aspects of the online educational experience, remain conscious of how you’re utilizing the power at your fingertips, and enjoy the flexibility and opportunities offered by online nursing education.
Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC is a holistic career coach for nurses, award-winning nurse blogger, writer, podcaster, speaker, author, and popular career columnist for Nurse.com. With two decades of nursing experience, Keith deeply understands the issues faced by 21st-century nurses. Keith’s two podcasts, RNFM Radio and The Nurse Keith Show, offer inspiration and practical support to nurses seeking to create meaningful, satisfying lives and careers. Keith’s message of savvy career management and professional satisfaction reaches tens of thousands of nurses worldwide. He can be found at NurseKeith.com.
Empower yourself with knowledge 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.