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Tips for Remaining Committed in Graduate School

Online students study together

When you’re earning an advanced degree, online or on campus, positive habits can help you remain committed to graduate school while helping you develop the necessary skills to work effectively as a nurse. If you are feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated, these tips might help you succeed in your program:

Make Friends

Just because you get your nursing degree online doesn’t mean you have to face every challenge alone. Writing for Clinical Advisor, nurse Sean P. L’Huillier recommends making friends as soon as you start to work toward your DNP degree. Not only can your fellow classmates lend moral support but they can also serve as study buddies, advocates, and accountability partners.

If you’re working toward your BSN to DNP online, you can still connect with your fellow students through online forums, social media and other digital channels.

Pamela Kersey of Nursing Together echoes L’Huillier’s advice, stating that every nursing student should have one or more study partners. She also suggests forming a study group. You can do this online via Google Hangouts or other software programs that allow you to communicate online. Alternatively, consider meeting up with people who live in your city and are taking the same classes.

Use Pre- and Post-Class Time Wisely

In addition to building a community of student friends, Kersey recommends reading all materials before class and reviewing your notes immediately after. These two tips can help you memorize information faster and retain more details, especially if you’re a visual learner.

Taking a BSN to DNP program online can make this process easier because you have more flexibility. You can review the class syllabus, assigned reading, and the previous classes’ lecture notes before you dive into new material. After class, take an hour or so to review the information you received.

Don’t forget to incorporate study habits that help with memory retention. For instance, Dr. John M. Grohol of Psych Central recommends finding a quiet space to review your materials. Distractions can prevent you from remembering what you read. He also suggests rewriting your notes. Even though you can pause lectures when you’re studying online, you’ll still write fast. Outlining the same notes after a lecture serves two purposes:

  1. Rooting the information deep in your mind
  2. Organizing the information into a more logical flow

Grohol further recommends memory games, such as mnemonic devices, which allow you to group related information and remember data more easily. He notes that mnemonic devices don’t work for everyone, so experiment with different memory tools until you find one that resonates with you.

Manage Your Time Wisely

While Grohol offers some excellent practical tips for studying in nursing school, he also notes that you need effective time management to get through a graduate program. He says many students create unrealistic study schedules that leave them frustrated and unable to keep up. Consider your other obligations, as well as nursing school, when establishing your class and study schedule.

Scrubs magazine reiterates this point, calling time management “the single most important skill you need to develop as a nurse.” Not only will you use this skill during your graduate program but you can also carry it over into your work life. Nursing often requires significant flexibility and rapid response, so you’ll need to know how to work effectively under pressure. Time management skills can make this easier.

Some students might find that they feel overwhelmed during graduate school. That’s perfectly normal, but if you have a steady schedule, you might discover that you recover from those feelings faster. This is especially true when you’re able to fine-tune your schedule with an online program.

Stick With the Program

Writing for Minority Nurse magazine, Air Force nurse Jazmin Nicole warns graduate students against taking breaks from school. While you might feel tempted to take a leave of absence when overwhelmed, this decision could delay graduation and slow your momentum. After a long break from school, you’ll have to get back in the nursing student mindset, which can take time.

Getting your degree online might help you resist the temptation to take breaks. Some online programs are accelerated, and can allow you to get your DNP in as few as 36 months. Furthermore, an online education allows you to study and take classes when you can fit them in. The learning modules and other content are available 24 hours a day, so if you want to listen to lectures at 3 a.m., there’s nothing preventing you from doing so.

Balance Your Time and Energy

While Nicole cautions students to avoid taking breaks from school, she encourages them to find balance in their lives. From school and work to family and friends, try not to devote all your time to one thing. While studying hard will help you in your BSN to DNP program, you must also find time for yourself.

As mentioned above, time management skills can help. Nicole also recommends learning how to say “no.” When you feel too tired or depleted to attend a party or help a friend plan an event, simply explain that you have too many obligations on your plate. Some students might feel guilty about declining an invitation, but you might thank yourself when you graduate on time and with excellent grades.

Nicole urges students to take care of themselves first. You need adequate sleep, nutrition, and exercise while you work through graduate school. After you meet your own needs, worry about those of others.

Remaining committed throughout graduate school might prove challenging, but the above tips can help you keep perspective and maintain your focus. To learn more about how advancing from a BSN to a DNP can help lead to a highly rewarding career, visit Maryville University’s Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing to Doctor of Nursing Practice program.

Sources:

http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/the-waiting-room/six-tips-for-surviving-nurse-practitioner-program-school/article/394253/

http://www.nursetogether.com/14-pieces-advice-every-nursing-student-should-receive

https://psychcentral.com/lib/top-10-most-effective-study-habits/

http://scrubsmag.com/do-you-know-these-10-tips-to-survive-nursing-school/

http://minoritynurse.com/top-5-tips-for-graduate-school-success/