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Nurses: Challenge Yourself by Going Back to School

It is a big decision for any registered nurse to return to school while continuing to work. Becoming a student again is not easy but moving from an associate degree to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can be rewarding and provide a great sense of achievement. According to ZipRecruiter data (March 2023), BSN-prepared nurses make an average of over $20,000 more annually than registered nurses (RNs) as a whole. Plus, with a BSN, nurses can step into nurse manager and nurse leader roles in top-level Magnet hospitals.

Many nurses who decide to return to school, whether to a brick-and-mortar institution or through an online RN to BSN program, find it necessary to continue working while taking classes. This makes it important to find a way to balance the three major components of your life: family, career and education.

How to Meet the Challenges of Returning to School

Sometimes the best advice comes from others who have completed goals that mirror yours. Here are some survival tips from experts and nurses who have completed their RN to BSN programs:

  • When considering a program, talk to other nurses who are already enrolled. Ask them why they chose the program, what they like about it and whether it is a good fit with their other obligations.
  • Check with the financial aid office about scholarships for nurses returning to get degrees.
  • Research outside scholarship and financial aid opportunities through resources such as the comprehensive list put together by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
  • Create a plan for the family. How will your need to study affect the family? Who will take up the slack when you are not there to meet the usual obligations?
  • Engage in self-care practices that help you maintain your mental, emotional and physical well-being.
  • Ask your employer for some flexibility with your schedule.
  • Check if your employer offers tuition assistance, loan repayment or other continuing education incentives, all of which are becoming increasingly common.
  • Consider your financial planning and the return on investment (ROI) you’d like to get from school, factoring in tuition and opportunity costs (like lost income if in-person classes limit your ability to work) as well as increased earning potential after graduation.
  • Find a study buddy or two, even if your courses are online. Help each other by discussing questions, comparing notes and studying together.
  • Refresh your academic, test-taking skills and computer skills.

Advantages of an Online RN to BSN Program

Time can be a precious commodity for the working nurse who has returned to school, which is why enrolling in an online RN to BSN program can be beneficial. Programs like Lamar University’s online RN to BSN are designed with working nurses in mind. Online programs allow for maximum flexibility when devising a personal schedule, and students do not waste time commuting. The availability of online RN to BSN programs also means you are not restricted to schools in your geographic area.

There are many challenges when returning to school while continuing to work, but there are numerous rewards. Nurses earning BSNs can address and understand the increasingly complex problems of aging and multicultural populations. A bachelor’s degree can bring greater job satisfaction and more opportunities for growth.

Learn more about Lamar University’s online RN to BSN program.

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