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Advice from an Advisor: How to Stay Focused in an RN-BSN Program

Written by Sandra Kleiman, MSN RN On Thursday, 21 September 2017. Posted in Academic Advice, Nursing

Advice from an Advisor: How to Stay Focused in an RN-BSN Program

You won't find many people who deny that nurses lead hectic, jam-packed lives. You also won't find many (if any) healthcare educators or employers who deny the importance of nurses getting their BSN degree. So how can busy nurses in a RN-BSN program stay on track in pursuit of their academic and career goals? My advice is to remember what your "end goals" are, practice mindfulness and maximize your study schedule hours.

As an advisor for the RN-BSN program at the Madison School of Healthcare of Ashworth College, I know nurses have an instinctive nature to help others and provide the best care they possibly can. Sometimes, this means building your own skillset and knowledge of health and medicine to accelerate your patient care capabilities.

Getting a bachelor's degree has become the industry standard for many healthcare careers, and the nursing field is no different. If you're looking to set yourself up for career success while also boosting your ability to help others, having your BSN is crucial. Here's how to stay focused during your RN-BSN program.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize

Simply put, earning your BSN will make you a more qualified and in-demand healthcare professional. According to an American Association of Colleges of Nursing 2016 survey, 54 percent of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor's degree in nursing (up 6.6 percent since 2015), while 97.9 percent of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates. I know nurses want to set themselves up for career success in addition to providing excellent patient care. Your BSN provides a direct pathway to achievement.

If you're a nurse considering getting your bachelor's degree, read the previous paragraph again. Recognizing how valuable and marketable you will be as a nurse with a BSN will go a long way towards motivating you throughout your RN-BSN program. You know where you want to be in the future, and you know what educational program will get you there. So, what's holding you back?

Minimize Distractions

This is never as easy as it seems, and I know it can be a challenge for me. Distractions are especially harmful to your education when they lead to a consistent state of multitasking. Research from Stanford University says that "people who are regularly bombarded with several streams of electronic information do not pay attention, control their memory or switch from one job to another as well as those who prefer to complete one task at a time." Whether you think you're "a good multitasker" or not, it's best to focus on one thing (a reading, project, quiz/exam) at a time and taking control of what you can to prevent outside distractions.

In avoiding distractions, you may want to pay close attention to limiting your time on social media or other phone apps. If being on your phone is becoming an issue, try switching to "airplane mode" and not using it for an extended period of time. There are also a variety of free computer applications to turn on "self-imposed" website locks of pages that can be distracting when used for personal entertainment.

Practice Mindfulness

College life is jam-packed with distractions whether you're in a campus setting or studying online. Increasing your mindfulness can have a profound effect on your studying habits, and there's research to back it up. A University of Miami study showed that by the end of a mindfulness training period, students who participated in the program showed significant improvements in attention and no increase in reported mind wandering. Some widely-held mindfulness tips include paying close attention to your breathing for a couple of minutes, tuning into your senses when you eat or casually walk, listening without judgment and spending time in nature.

Organize Your Time (Off)

With extended shifts and irregular schedules, it's natural for you to feel a bit limited to what you can do outside of work. But nurses can use their day(s) off in so many ways to recharge and refocus on their overall goals. Using these off days for studying is crucial to a making it a successful RN-BSN experience. Do you study better in the morning, afternoon or evening? What kind of short breaks are you giving yourself while maximizing your study time? It all comes down to what works for you, building a plan of attack and sticking to that plan.

Earning your BSN will position you for personal and career growth by making you a more well-informed and prized healthcare professional. Also remember that you are indispensable; the American Nurses Association tells us that the national nursing shortage means more nurses and healthcare professionals will be needed to provide care to an aging baby-boomer generation. By staying focused in an RN-BSN program that fits your needs, you are continuing your path to personal and career success.

About the Author

Sandra Kleiman, MSN RN

Sandra Kleiman brings to Madison School of Healthcare the knowledge and experience of a practicing nurse and an educator with a passion for teaching. Sandra's nursing background includes oncology, neonatal intensive care, emergency room case management, utilization review, denial and appeals management, correctional health, and nursing education. She earned her Bachelor's of Science degree in Nursing with honors from Chamberlin College of Nursing and a Master's in Nursing Education from Western Governors University.