By Carol Smith
With the exception of obtaining the first level of qualifications to become a nurse, you will want to juggle learning and your career throughout the future. Taking time off to tackle your BSN or DNP specialization is only going to hurt your career overall. For many, this is also impossible to do. You need to keep earning that paycheck, and no matter what option you choose, reputable and credible degrees cost money.
That is why online nursing degrees were made. It is so worthwhile to further your career and to gain specializations that allow you to direct your career. From being Head of Nursing at your hospital to being a midwife to being a pediatric nurse – the options are limitless, and with each branch, a different lifestyle is available.
However, how can you make this work? It can be difficult juggling a demanding nursing career and a full education on top of all your other responsibilities, such as caring for your health, your wellbeing, and your routines.
To help you through this, you are going to want to prepare by following this guide.
Find the Right Online Degree
You need to feel like all the hard work is worth it. You cannot take a degree that was haphazardly thrown together in a university’s bid to bring in more tuition. You need a degree that was designed to be completed online and one that is designed with your success in mind.
To find the right degree, you will need two things:
1. Know What Speciality is Right for You
You need to be passionate about the specialty if you have any hope of successfully completing your degree. Try shadowing different departments, or asking those in positions you are interested in what they do in their day and how they like their job. If you love kids, for example, you can go on to become a pediatric nurse or a midwife. If you are undecided, focus on the science you are most interested in and what type of lifestyle you are looking for with your career.
2. The Right Degree for Your Needs
Most specialties will require you to complete a master’s degree in the subject to become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Someone interested in becoming a midwife will need to look for online midwifery programs nearby so that they can finish their degree while maintaining their current career. Most of these degrees will have an on-campus element to them so that you can learn first-hand for certain tasks. The right degree is going to help keep you focused and committed and help you prepare for the state exam.
Start Building Healthy Routines
Juggling work, a degree, and life is no easy task. Being physically and mentally prepared can go a long way. Even if you have done it before, if it has been a few years, it is all too easy to fall out of habit. Always prepare using the aforementioned steps before you start your degree so that you can ensure the greatest chance of success.
A great, healthy routine to adopt will look like this:
1. Exercise or Stretch in the Mornings
When you wake up, drink water and then complete an easy morning exercise. Yoga is a great option as it helps build core strength and flexibility – two things that you often lack when being on your feet all day. Doing this right in the morning will help get your blood circulating, so you are alert and awake.
2. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Even if it’s on the go, eating a healthy breakfast is essential. You know this, and yet being busy often means eating right is pushed to the side. Make your breakfasts ahead of time, and choose options that can either be enjoyed leisurely or easily on your train or even in the car. Breakfast burritos, pastries, and sandwiches are all great options. Breakfast smoothies are another great way to get your fruits (and even veggies) on the go or at home.
3. Use Your Commute
Unless you drive to work, you should aim to use your commute to read. Your online degree is going to have a lot you will need to read in order to complete it, so try to get into the habit now of reading while you are on the train or bus. It could be fiction, but for the best results, try to read medical journals or even just science magazines that get your mind used to the type of content you will be looking at during your degree.
4. Find a Workspace After Work
This will be a lot easier when you work consistent hours but is possible in every scenario. If you cannot work at the same time, you should at least be able to work on your degree at the same location. Find a local café, library, or even in your own hospital or clinic, where you can peacefully sit down and work on your degree for an hour or more per day.
5. Make Your Night Time Routine Sacred
Nothing will beat a good night’s rest. Not all the coffee in the world. In order to improve your night’s sleep, you will want to make the entire process sacred. Upgrade your mattress and bedroom if either stress you out. Enjoy a small spa to yourself in your bathroom as your beauty routine, and most of all, go to sleep at the same time.
Try to stay away from screens for a few hours before bed so that your body can properly wind down. Between the blue light and all the content on your phone or laptop, it can be hard to get your mind to quiet when you want to. Staying away from screens can help.
Take Your Time
Online degrees are built to be completed by working professionals, and if you want to focus more on your career than on your degree, at some point in the year, then that is okay. The purpose of online degrees is to support you, not tear you down, so complete it at the pace that works best for you.