Important Study Tips for Online Nursing Students

Nursing programs are already difficult, let alone completing a Nursing degree online. Here are some helpful tips to make your studies easier!

Online Nursing programs have recently gained a bit of popularity due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, where most students were confined to their homes and studying online became the standard form of learning. This transition made it possible for both students and universities to evaluate the effectiveness of distance/remote education, and many came to prefer it over traditional classroom lectures. Studying Nursing online may seem more difficult than most majors, but there are some amazing programs out there. And with these tips, you can make your online Nursing education just as effective as if you were learning in person.

What to expect in online nursing school

Online Nursing degree programs typically consist of three components:

  • Online classes and lectures
  • Laboratory experiences (labs)
  • On-site clinical experiences 

Labs will most likely be held on campus, or you can choose to participate in online simulation labs. Clinical experiences usually take place at patient care facilities such as hospitals, nursing homes, or physician clinics. This is important to note so you don’t think you’ll be missing out on important learning experiences just because you’re completing your degree online. All three components are equally important for successfully completing your program, and while online nursing school has its advantages when it comes to flexibility, cost, and time management, it can still be challenging and difficult to manage at times.

Related: Video: What I Wish I Knew Before Starting Nursing School

Helpful study tips for online Nursing students

With all this in mind, we’ve gathered some of the most useful tips to help you succeed and make the most out of your online Nursing classes and on-site clinical trainings.

Create an effective study environment

Studying from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you like for that matter, is one of the biggest benefits of online learning. However, studying from home can get too comfortable at times, and a study session can quickly turn into a nap if you don’t create an effective and productive environment. Find a place to put your study materials where you can comfortably stay focused for a couple of hours without distractions. When it comes to online learning, some things to check off your list for a productive study space include:

  • A stable internet connection
  • No disruption from people around you
  • A decluttered and organized area

Make a study schedule

Another advantage of online studies is you have more flexibility when organizing your workload and assignments. The opportunity for self-paced learning means you can create a schedule that complies with your other commitments. Still, this flexibility can often turn into hours of procrastination if not managed properly. Therefore, creating a study schedule and sticking to it will provide a routine and make it much easier to organize your studies effectively and learn your best. 

Related: How to Create an Effective Distance Learning Routine

Take regular breaks

Study breaks are often a neglected component of online learning, especially during long pre-exam nights when you’re studying like there’s no tomorrow. The key to productive study sessions is taking a break from time to time to regain energy and focus. And this doesn’t apply to online lectures or study sessions only; make sure you schedule breaks and try to find a moment to breath or unwind during busy clinical days too. Whether you’re grabbing a quick snack, doing some stretches, or taking a power nap, these breaks can genuinely make a difference when it comes to retaining more information, allowing you to recharge and de-stress.

Keep backup copies of your assignments

Attending nursing school online means you’ll be doing most of your work on a laptop or computer. However efficient they may be, they’re not always the most reliable. You could experience a disruption in your internet connection or a technological glitch, and all of a sudden that long assignment you spent hours typing is gone. In these cases, the smart thing to do is invest in an external hard drive and back it up every day. You could also type out your assignments in Google Docs, where they’re automatically saved while you work, then you can copy and paste them in whatever format and online platform you need to for submission. By doing this, you’ll ensure your work won’t be lost and spare yourself from having to redo the same assignment.

Avoid online distractions

When it comes to finding information quickly and conveniently, the internet is everyone’s go-to source. However, when you’re attending online classes, working on an assignment, or shadowing a nurse during clinicals, it can just as easily become a source of distraction that hinders your workflow and focus. To ensure your attention remains on your study materials, lectures, or clinical instructor, consider the following tips:

  • Silence all phone, tablet, or computer notifications that aren’t relevant to your schoolwork.
  • Close all websites, social media apps, or other online sources that are distracting and not needed for studying. (You could even download an app that locks you out of tempting websites for a certain period of time.)
  • If you can’t keep your hands off your phone, turn it off completely or leave it somewhere out of reach until you’re done with studying or your clinical shift. 

Related:  6 Tips for Dealing With Distractions in Online Classes

Figure out your learning style

The beauty of studying is that each student learns and retains information differently, and there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong way to study. We all have our preferred ways that work best for us, which can truly make a difference in information processing and retention. Figuring out which way you learn most efficiently is done best through trial and error. You can try out different methods of studying, such as revising your materials by writing down the most crucial information in bullet points, watching a YouTube video on the topic you’re studying, using flashcards for revising, or something entirely different.

Interact with fellow students

Online learning offers more flexibility, self-paced learning, and many other benefits, but it can often feel like an isolating experience. Sometimes you may need a second opinion on an assignment or topic, or you may not have fully understood a lecture. This is where other students come to the rescue; you’re on the same journey, after all. Additionally, having a friend during the clinical portion of your program can help you tackle on-site challenges and duties. Communicating with your peers can tremendously help you all stay on track with your studies, fill in the gaps for information you didn’t fully understand, learn from each other’s mistakes, and keep each other accountable.

Take care of yourself

Once deadlines or pre-exam stress kick in, most students tend to neglect some crucial aspects of self-care. While it’s essential to dedicate time for studying and revising, it’s just as important to make time for yourself and unwind every once in a while. Here are some things to keep in mind and try to work into your academic routine:

  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Getting even minimal daily exercise, be it a walk to a park, yoga, dancing, sports, or any other activity you prefer
  • Taking time to listen to music, read a new book, or watch a movie
  • Keeping in touch with friends and family and turning to them for support when needed
  • Treating yourself to your favorite food
  • Focusing on your breathing in moments of stress 

Related: How to Make Your Semester More Mindful

Studying to get your Nursing degree is an experience in which you can expect to grow both personally and professionally—before taking on the celebrated role of a nurse. With these tips and best practices, you’ll surely succeed and make the most out of your online studies.

For more learning advice and study tips to get through college, check out our Majors and Academics section.

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About Eleanor Bardot

Eleanor Bardot is a freelance writer who’s passionate about informing, guiding, and advising students to make the right choices throughout their higher education journey. She is currently sharing her experiences and expertise for Pacific College.


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