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Importance of Time Management in an Online Degree Program

The thought of early morning classes makes most college students cringe. Waking up for an 8 a.m. lecture? Not if there is another option! A registered nurse (RN) returning to school to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may be unbothered by early hours; however, RNs may face other obstacles. One common issue? Schedules.

It can be challenging for RNs to juggle work and family with the set schedules of campus-based classes. With the flexibility of an online RN to BSN program, RNs are able to arrange course requirements around their busy lives.

The RN to BSN at Northeastern State University (NSU) is one example. The first RN to BSN in Oklahoma, this online program offers multiple start dates, allowing RNs to begin coursework at a time that works best for them.

How Can an Online Program Help?

The authors of "Registered Nurses as Professionals" (Online Journal of Issues in Nursing) report that time is one of the most significant barriers to earning a BSN. Inflexible schedules and family demands are contributing factors.

Online RN to BSN programs such as NSU's eliminate the need to "get to class." This can help nurses avoid scheduling conflicts with their shifts as well as the loss of income when jobs are put on hold for school. Whatever the shift, a class is just an internet connection away. This flexibility also works well for RNs with families.

With All That Flexibility, Does Time Management Matter?

That same flexibility can lead to problems with keeping up with readings, discussions and other assignments. It may be tempting to put off classwork after a long day at work. And life's everyday events can interrupt planned study time.

To avoid falling behind, even the best students may need to sharpen their time management skills. Keeping a calendar is one way to stay on schedule. This includes blocking out time to study. Of course, all the planning in the world will not keep life from getting busy. To support success, eLearning Industry suggests the following:

  • Reduce distractions. When it is time to study, stay focused on the assignment. Close the door, mute the ringer, and take a break from non-essential email. For a change of scenery, try a coffee shop, where there is no getting sidetracked by dirty dishes or laundry.
  • Set a reasonable amount of time each day to work on the course.
  • And on that note, while multitasking is not always recommended, sometimes it works. Heading to the gym for some treadmill time? This might be a good opportunity to complete a reading.
  • Establish goals and incentives for completing assignments. Finish ahead of schedule? Get ahead start on upcoming reading assignments. This can help reduce stress when things get busy.
  • Know when to ask for help. Course content may become confusing, and ignoring the problem may only make it worse. Check in with the instructor or ask online classmates for help.

The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) released a report on the future of nursing that recommends something known as the "80-20 proposal." The goal? To increase the workforce proportion of nurses with a BSN to 80 percent by 2020.

An online program such as NSU's RN to BSN can be an affordable and convenient way to advance a nursing career. And with the right time management tools, RNs can meet the demands of their coursework while also managing their careers and enjoying their families.

Learn more about NSU's online RN to BSN program.


The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing: Registered Nurses as Professionals

eLearning Industry: Completing an Online Course: 13 Time Management Tips

National Academy of Sciences: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

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