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Advice for Nurses Considering an Online MSN Program


Online education can be an affordable and convenient way to advance your nursing career, though once you are ready to return to school for a graduate degree, your life may have gotten busier. The need to balance work and family can present additional challenges. The ability to plan your Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) coursework with flexible online classes can make this easier.

Although online courses might be more convenient, they require the same work as conventional classes. Fortunately, you can overcome the challenges of incorporating an online program by sharpening your skills in time management, organization and self-discipline.

It’s important to consider the following when choosing an online MSN program:

  • The school’s mission and values
  • Assistance the school offers — advisors and online support staff
  • Accreditation — If the school is not accredited, it could impede your nursing career mobility
  • Scheduling — Start dates and specific log in times
  • Your comfort level with the technology

How to Strive for Success

A little planning and self-discipline can help you mentally prepare and prevent you from becoming overwhelmed.

“Don’t wait for the right time to go back to school or you’ll never do it. You’ve just got to do it and make the time right.” — Ruthie Robinson Ph.D., Lamar University Director of Graduate Nursing Studies

Be prepared – Time management is one of the biggest challenges with online learning. The flexibility of the coursework can make it easy to get off track. Review the syllabus and understand what is expected in each class. Consider your learning style and know your pace at independent learning.

Develop a routine – Online classes offer the freedom and flexibility to complete coursework on your own time. In order to be successful, treat each class in the same manner you would a conventional one. Determine a consistent time and place to study — somewhere you will have the fewest distractions and at the time of day you are the most productive.

“It was definitely something I worked on every single day to stay ahead of,” Weisman said. “It was very manageable when broken up over the week. I had my time with the kiddo and did it afterwards. It’s very doable, but you have to stay consistent.” — Patricia Weismann MSN, RN, Lamar University graduate

Become comfortable with technology – Acquaint yourself with the technology required prior to the class and determine if you have the proper equipment and software.

Engage with other students – Online learning enables you to be as interactive, or as isolated, as you choose. Peer collaboration and networking can help you develop an online learning community. Participate in the online discussions as you would in a regular classroom discussion.

Communicate with faculty – There are multiple ways to maintain a strong line of communication with the faculty in an online program. Determine whether your instructor prefers to communicate through email, phone or another online platform. Ask them what the best time is to contact them. The faculty wants you to succeed, so reach out with questions.

Get organized – Create a calendar for assignments, exams and lectures, and develop a daily checklist to stay ahead of deadlines. By staying on track, you can successfully manage your time and develop a pace that is not as stressful.

“Stay organized. Don’t wait to the last minute to start an assignment or project. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Realize you can’t be perfect at everything.” — Cynthia Stinson, Ph.D., Lamar University Nursing Department Chair

Explore Your Options Today for a Better Tomorrow

Online MSN programs can offer the same quality as face-to-face learning with a different delivery method. Some programs, such as Lamar University’s online program, utilize the same instructors who teach on campus. If you take the steps to advance your degree today, you can look forward to a brighter tomorrow.

Learn more about Lamar University’s MSN in Nursing Administration online program.


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