You’ve been working as a nurse for a few years now, expanding your experience and learning the ropes of your dream job. You’re not the new nurse on the floor anymore, but that doesn’t mean you’re done learning.
Every day brings new challenges and ways for you to develop your skills. Add to that the advancements in the healthcare field and new technologies helping healthcare professionals get better at what they do, and there’s plenty of ways for you to keep growing.
Always one to put your best foot forward, you’ve been thinking about getting your BSN. You know the benefits—expanded career potential and improved patient outcomes—but you have a few questions and concerns to address first. You’re already a nurse—what’s left to learn? Can you handle working through school? Do you have the time to balance work, family and studying for your BSN?
Wonder no more. We heard your most common questions and concerns and spoke with Dr. Colleen Koob, dean of the online Nursing program at Rasmussen College, to clear up the confusion. Put your uncertainties to rest with this overview of the RN to BSN online program and see how to get yourself ahead of the class.
What else does a nurse need to know?
As a nurse in the field, you already have a vast amount of medical knowledge and hands-on experience under your belt. You may be wondering, “What else is there to learn? What does a nurse learn in an RN to BSN program?”
“Students take the clinical skills they have learned in their ADN program and transform them into scholarly professional knowledge in an RN to BSN program,” Koob says.
In other words, an RN to BSN program can help you advance your skills to the next level. While your ADN courses covered mostly hands-on clinical skills, the courses in an RN to BSN online program will cover the broader skills that develop your leadership capabilities. The curriculum will help you understand the “Why?” in nursing—not just how to do it.
RN to BSN online programs can also include interesting areas of nursing that you didn’t learn at the Associate’s degree level. These can include public health, pathophysiology, health assessment, transcultural nursing and nursing informatics. All of these elements make nurses more informed and heighten the care they provide in every shift.
What’s it like returning to school after a long time?
Students in RN to BSN online programs come from all walks of life, but they have one thing in common: they all share the honor of proudly representing the nursing profession. And many are in the same boat as you, returning to school after years of working in the field.
It can be difficult to return to school after a long time, but it shouldn’t stand in the way of you achieving your professional goals. Fortunately, online RN to BSN programs are built to help you through every step of the way.
“Our faculty is just a course message, email, text or phone call away. We also have online tutors, and our School of Nursing librarian holds research appointments weekly,” Koob explains. “The support we have for our students is amazing—they just have to ask.”
RN to BSN students are supported across the board. They have 24/7 technological support for any issues that may arise. Students also have access to academic tutoring, vast digital libraries and an array of student support. With all of these resources at their fingertips, nurses balancing work and school can thrive in their own time.
What if I’ve never taken online classes before?
Maybe all of your previous courses were taken on campus. Completing your RN to BSN online can be intimidating if it’s new to you. But don’t worry; online classes are different—but in a good way!
The main perk of taking online classes is that you can fit them into your schedule whenever it’s convenient for you. There’s no driving to class. You don’t have to schedule your shifts around your courses. Whether it’s night time, morning or afternoon, your course materials will always be available to you with just a few clicks of a button.
“With an online program, you can work when it fits into your schedule. We record our live classrooms so that if a student can't make it to the actual time of the class, they can watch the recording at a time that is convenient to them,” Koob says.
Courses at Rasmussen College typically include 11 modules that you’d work your way through each quarter. Each module incorporates different activities to measure your knowledge. It’s important to remember that it’s up to you to stay on top of your studies—so planning ahead will be critical to your academic success.
“You have to be organized and plan time for your studies, but your courses are organized to help students see what is due when and where the larger projects land within the term,” she adds.
Don’t think you’ll be all by yourself on this educational journey—expect lots of classroom dialogue in chat rooms and discussion boards. The online format offers several ways to connect with classmates and instructors in each course.
How can I balance work and school in an RN to BSN program?
Maybe you weren’t working through Nursing school the first time around, or maybe you had less on your plate back then. While going back to school may seem daunting now, the reality is that most RN to BSN students work full time while they go through the program. It’s a juggling act and requires some time management on your end, but it’s nothing you can’t tackle with a little support.
“Most of our students take one to two courses per term, which amounts to 20–30 hours of coursework each week. This helps the students to be able to maintain a work/life balance,” Koob says.
RN to BSN programs recognize that their students work full time, plus balance family responsibilities, which is why the nature of the online program fits perfectly into their busy lives. By planning ahead and working around their other commitments, RN to BSN students can strike a balance between their studies and everything else on their plates.
You can do it!
Going back to school may be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With RN to BSN online programs created to fit working nurses’ busy schedules, you can fit studying in whenever it works for you. Push yourself to build your strengths and professional development to become the best possible nurse you can be—with a BSN!
Are you ready to take your nursing career to the next level? Check out the School of Nursing RN to BSN degree page to learn more about how Rasmussen College can help you take the next step in your education while still fitting your busy schedule.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in August 2015. It has since been updated.