It’s becoming more evident that nurses should have a bachelor’s degree. A lot of hospitals now require that all new nurses hold the degree, and for current nurses, it’s difficult to move up without a one.
Thankfully, online RN to BSN degrees allow current nurses to advance their education without sacrificing work and personal commitments. But how does it work? And what is it really like? We interviewed Tatiana Soltani, BSN, RN, who currently works as an ICU nurse, to get her perspective.
1. Why did you choose to earn your RN to BSN online?
I chose an online RN to BSN program for convenience. I work full time and have a family, so being able to work at my own pace on my own schedule was a priority for me.
2. How does an online RN to BSN work?
It works much the same as a traditional school as far as classes and assignments. Each course had either required papers to write or (proctored) exams to take. The difference is that there is no “due date” other than finishing by the end of the semester to avoid an incomplete. Additionally, the program I chose is self-paced. That means that as long as I completed the required 12 units a semester, I could do more for the same base price. I actually completed my entire course load of 16 classes and 43 units in one semester and saved a lot of money. It wasn’t something I set out to do, specifically, but just worked out that way. Conversely, if you didn’t have extra time, you could just do 12 units and even take breaks up to 3 months between semesters.
3. How often did you have clinicals? How did the placement work?
My school counted full-time work experience concurrent with schooling as meeting most clinical requirements. For the community health class, we conducted field work in our community and wrote a paper about a healthcare topic affecting our own population. For that, we had to have a preceptor and keep a log with time spent and locations visited with contact information. We did have to find our own preceptors that met school criteria, (which) proved to be the most challenging thing for me because the (California board of registered nursing) is very strict on maintaining certain standards. Students in other states did not have to meet the requirement of a preceptor.
4. What were the benefits of getting your RN to BSN online? Challenges?
The benefits were . . . the convenience factor and also being able to save money by completing the program in (one) semester. The challenges I faced were mostly finding a preceptor to oversee my community health clinical hours and some software issues with the exam proctoring service.
5. What skills are necessary for a person pursuing an online RN to BSN?
You have to be really motivated and a good independent learner. Yes, there are resources if you don’t understand the material, but it takes extra time and scheduling. It also helps if you’re computer savvy to know how to access and use materials provided. Having social media, also, is beneficial for reaching out to fellow students for support and clarification.
6. What advice would you give to a person debating whether to get their RN to BSN online?
I would highly recommend researching several programs to find the one that is right for you. There are many programs, and they all have very different costs and requirements. Find out if it is accredited, first and foremost, and ask around for friends/coworkers that went to those schools to get (their) experience. Also, if you plan on continuing on in your field find out how getting a BSN from that school will affect you.
7. Why did you want/choose to be a nurse?
I fought it for a long time, actually! I have a large family of nurses, and it was never something that interested me. I was in the Army in an unrelated field, and when I got out, I found it hard to find a decent job. I finally relented and started nursing school and was surprised to find out how much I loved it. I guess it was always “meant to be,” even though I didn’t know it!
8. What are your professional goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
My next goal is to get my critical care certification and move on to an advanced degree in nursing. I haven’t decided what specialization I want to pursue yet, so I’m keeping my options open.
9. Is there anything else you think readers would find interesting/helpful?
Look in to seeing if your employer offers tuition assistance and if your chosen program would qualify. That’s a great way to keep costs down.
Taking Advantage of Online Learning
Online degree options offer a great opportunity for nurses to advance their education without having to sacrifice flexibility. That’s highlighted with one of the most popular online degree options in the RN to BSN. Current nurses can obtain a desirable degree while they maintain their work and personal commitments.
In a convenient online learning environment, nurses can gain the skills and knowledge to grow their career and achieve their goals. All of that happens without having to commute to and from a college or university. Studying and coursework takes place when and where it works best for nurses, which can vary significantly based on their schedules.