Adjusting your lifestyle to accommodate nursing school can be a real challenge, but with online coursework and a blended curriculum like ours, you can transition smoothly. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program offers a bit of flexibility through our online nursing coursework, yet still provides you with the full nursing school experience.
Although you can read, study, and work on assignments whenever and wherever you please, you will still be required to complete hands-on skills and simulation labs at the ABSN off-campus site, and clinical rotations with our hospital partners (St. Vincent in Indianapolis, IN and Saint Thomas Health in Nashville, TN). The online coursework component of our ABSN program helps students ready themselves for the more interactive portions of our curriculum. Here’s how several students made the transition with the help of online courses.
Juggling Online Nursing as an Army Wife
Sarah Zadigan, an ABSN graduate from Marian University in Nashville, Tennessee, has a husband who is in the military and a young daughter, so the online coursework was a huge reason why she chose the ABSN program.
“I wanted some flexibility in terms of scheduling,” Sarah said. “My husband deploys a lot, so there are a lot of times when I’m home alone with our daughter. I wanted to minimize the time she would be with a sitter since her dad’s already away a lot – and this program makes it possible.”
As she became more familiar with the program, Sarah realized that success in online learning requires discipline and exceptional time management. “It’s a great opportunity, but you need to be prepared to really manage your time,” she said. “It’s a different sort of accountability than when you see your teacher every day.”
Staying Organized as a Mom
Creating a routine study schedule helps our students stay on top of their online coursework, because while it provides flexibility, the convenience of online learning can make it easy for you to lose track. That’s a concept that Amy Harmon, an ABSN graduate of Marian University in Indianapolis, Indiana, has learned since being in the program.
Amy said it’s vital that she and her husband work out their schedule for the week. Figuring out who will pick up the kids is one way she stays organized.
“I wasn’t super organized before, but this program has made me extremely organized and it’s been great,” Amy said. “For example, today, my kids are all at school, so it’s a study day. I will study until they come home, and then do the mom thing. Then they will go to bed and I will study a little bit more.”
Getting Ahead with Prerequisites
If you’re anything like Nick Wright, another ABSN graduate of Marian University in Nashville, Tennessee, then you might have to take a few prerequisite courses before starting your nursing school curriculum. Students in our program take advantage of Marian’s Adult Programs (MAP), a variety of 100% online interactive classes for those who need to take prerequisites like anatomy, chemistry, or microbiology (to name a few).
In addition to their convenience, MAP courses are taught through the same platform that the online nursing courses are taught, allowing new students to become accustomed to the structure prior to beginning the program.
“For those who didn’t go through MAP at all, or for those who weren’t familiar with online learning [before starting the program], I felt like I was a step ahead,” Nick said. “Everything was all set up the same way, so I knew where to go to look for the modules and assignments.”
The online component of the program was actually a huge plus for Nick, making his decision to choose this program a bit easier. “The online portion affected my decision to join the program,” he said. “Being able to study at my own pace, the online portion was definitely one of the major factors.”
The Beauty of a Blended Curriculum
The added flexibility that comes with online nursing courses certainly has its perks, but being able to gain hands-on experience is not only a necessity if you want to be a nurse, it is also an exciting part of the process. In our blended learning approach, online coursework is how you will learn the key nursing theory concepts – but that’s only one third of the pie.
Incorporating Online Nursing Coursework into Skills Labs
As an ABSN student, you will also participate in experiential learning through on-site labs with our faculty, and clinical rotations with our clinical partners. If you ask Sarah, they are both “awesome.”
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty broad experience, which I’m grateful for,” Sarah said. “I like that we have a space that is dedicated to our use, and the instruction I have gotten has been wonderful.”
Instead of having you complete the courses, labs, and clinicals in a linear format, you will have the opportunity to take part in each component congruently. Taking courses online in conjunction with attending skills labs creates a unique blend of curriculum that will help you quickly and efficiently gauge whether or not you are making progress.
“The skills lab follows the online courses and gets you acquainted with handling the supplies and communicating in certain ways before connecting with patients,” said Nick. “You learn how to wash your hands, how to put on gloves, and simple things like that.”
Where Skills Labs Meet Clinical Rotations
In addition to learning the technical skills, you will practice what you’ve learned in a clinical setting. Our instructors strive to help you understand what’s in the textbook and how to apply it in the field. And the best part is that you get to practice these skills sooner than later.
“We are in clinicals from the second eight weeks we are here. You get a chance to get in early and figure out if this is for you”
– Sarah Zadigan, 2016 ABSN Graduate, Marian University in Nashville
Although she enjoyed the clinical aspect of the ABSN program, Sarah said it took her a little time to adjust. “I think the first semester was busier than I had anticipated, in terms of time that I was actually here for testing,” she said. “Sometimes you are here four times a week, and sometimes you are here two times a week.”
Not only are you on a fast track to getting to know the nursing field in general, but having real-life clinical experiences in diverse settings will help you decide what kind of nursing you’ll want to pursue in the future.
“The clinical experience has probably been my favorite part about the program because of the amount of areas we have gotten to work in,” Nick said. “From pediatrics at Vanderbilt, to multiple clinics that support the local community, the ICU, emergency department and mental health ward – it’s just been a combination of areas.”
The Convenience of Online Nursing
That’s the beauty of blended learning. You can take online nursing courses in the convenience of your home, visit the school site for skills labs, and learn within a clinical environment at a health care provider. If becoming a nurse has long been a dream of yours, and you could benefit from a flexible, and dynamic nursing program, contact an admissions advisor to find out how you can earn your BSN degree in as few as 16 months.