Career Pathways & Education

Five Tips for Staying Motivated with Online Nursing School

The Trusted Team
November 11, 2020
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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted almost all areas of life, including higher education. If your nursing school education has shifted to remote learning, you might be struggling to get your bearings. 

While it is true that online education is different from traditional, in-class settings, it is entirely possible to receive a wonderful nursing school experience through remote learning. In fact, numerous healthcare professions have switched to remote work, including nursing — so you might, in fact, find yourself happily working online after you graduate from an online nursing school! 

The Pandemic Has Changed Education

Nursing remains an outstanding professional opportunity with strong reports of job satisfaction, competitive salaries, and numerous options for specializing. But the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the education path for many nursing students. 

After all, if you’re considering fulfilling nursing prerequisites and additional nursing courses, remote learning is not usually the first thing that comes to mind. However, there are many options for you to explore online nursing courses that are manageable and can cater to your unique learning experience.

Perhaps the pandemic is forcing you to consider changing professions, but you aren’t sure about going back to school behind a computer screen in your own home. Perhaps you worry about the logistics of online school, including troubleshooting technology, focusing on a screen for long periods of time, or connecting with teachers and classmates. 

We’re all adjusting to a new normal and trying to figure things out. The good news is that nursing education was already adapting to virtual learning before COVID-19 struck. Nursing schools were adopting cutting-edge ways to ensure rigorous, high-quality remote learning experiences. 

The only thing that has really changed is that even more students are utilizing online nursing school now. Their experiences show that it’s entirely possible to stay organized and motivated while learning remotely. They’re staying connected with teachers and peers and accomplishing their goals, too!

With that in mind, here are five tips for staying motivated and being successful in an online nursing school program.  

two nursing students sitting at home watching nursing lectures online

1. Organize Your Workspace

One of the challenges of online learning at home is separating your personal life and your schooling. One way to check out of one headspace and into another is to have a designated study space for school, while you make sure to save the rest of your home for relaxing or spending time with family. 

Find a space where you won’t be distracted by too much noise or activity. Leave your books and computer in this quiet spot, and keep the area clean and uncluttered. An advantage of a designated study space is that you leave your school materials in the same place and can more easily settle into school each morning without hunting down textbooks, study cards, and school supplies.  

Minimizing distractions is also crucial. If others live in your home, talk with them about your study needs and how they can help you by avoiding disruptions in your routine. Especially, if you are planning on working while going back to school part-time, or even full-time. 

The number one distraction when studying, however, is the smartphone. This is a tough one. You’ll have to use your computer, laptop, and on occasion your smartphone to complete assignments or communicate with professors and classmates. Don’t fall into the trap of responding to a notification when you’re supposed to be focusing on a nursing assignment. 

Consider silencing your phone, turning it face down on a desk or table (or even in another room). Better yet, put your phone on airplane mode or the “Do Not Disturb” setting. You won’t regret this when you see how productive and focused you can be without your phone distracting you! 

2. Adopt Effective Study Habits

You’re going to have a lot on your plate during online nursing school, so it’s crucial to stay organized. Accepting the challenges that may come with online nursing school is a big step in getting through the majority of your education. You especially want to manage your time efficiently.

Stay one step ahead by putting every test date and due date into a calendar or planner, and make sure you read your syllabus from start to finish. Devote blocks of time to schoolwork, with no other plans or responsibilities to manage during that time. 

Most importantly, once you set up a plan and a schedule, stick with it! 

Self-care might not seem like a study habit, but looking after yourself is an important part of being a high-performing, hard-working nursing student. Remember, the healthiest version of yourself will also be the most productive version. This means taking adequate rest breaks and getting enough sleep. It means eating nutritious meals instead of getting by on power bars and sugary study snacks. 

Exercise is also one of the most effective ways to boost your brainpower and lift your mood. Consider taking a short, brisk walk or even doing some yoga or stretching in between lessons. You will find yourself much more alert after moving your body. 

3. Seek Connection

Nursing school, whether it is in-person or online, is very demanding. You’ll need people to lean on and reach out to for support. Get to know your professors, your classmates, and your academic advisors. Don’t be shy about asking for help, and don’t wait until the last minute if you have a question or concern! 

Just because you aren’t in a classroom with an instructor and classmates doesn’t mean you’re alone in the learning process. Remember, your instructors want you to succeed. Your peers are also in the same boat, and they will probably be just as relieved and happy if you reach out to them – because it means they can reach out to you, too. 

It also helps to find an accountability partner, perhaps a fellow classmate or an online nursing student support group. Your accountability partner doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same field as you. A friend pursuing online education in another area can help you stay on track and motivated. Check-in with each other regularly.  

4. Have Clear Goals

Online nursing school can leave you feeling temporarily overwhelmed and even daunted. This will pass. When things get hard, remember the reason why you wanted to attend nursing school. Remember that you are in charge of your education, and keep your eye on the prize! 

Focusing on the long-term goal of graduating and working in a new profession is only part of the equation. Every small success along the way matters, too. 

Let yourself celebrate short-term successes. When you earn a solid grade on a test, reward yourself with an at-home spa night, or watch a relaxing movie. When you get positive feedback on a paper you put long hours into, do something nice for yourself. Following nursing school, envision yourself digging deep and passing the NCLEX and celebrating accordingly. You deserve it!

woman lying in bed with nursing textbook studying at home

5. Find Your Online Nursing School Program 

Education technology was already gathering speed prior to the pandemic, and thank goodness! It’s fortuitous that institutions were already adopting new technologies for online learning with apps, virtual learning platforms, online textbooks and library material, video conferencing programs, and online learning software. 

The pandemic has made life more difficult in many ways, but e-learning is here to stay. If you work hard, you can absolutely keep yourself motivated and have a great online nursing school experience! 

What Comes After Nursing School?

Maybe you’re nearing the end of your school’s program and aren’t sure what step to take next. Here’s a quick primer on what comes after nursing school (and how you can best prepare)!

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