Over the course of about eight years, I looked into various RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) programs to fill in the gap of sporadic knowledge that I have obtained during my twelve years of nursing practice with an Associate’s Degree. Surprisingly, I found that the RN-BSN programs were mostly offered online. I then realized that this is a new form of learning, learning that takes place outside of the classroom setting. This made me wonder if I could be able to accommodate to this style of learning and, furthermore, to obtain this higher degree. I spoke to a friend of mine about my interest in pursuing a BSN degree, and she encouraged me to do that. However, she alerted me to enroll into a program that is accredited. This important detail did not even enter into my mind. I had naively thought that any school that is established would give a legitimate degree. Thus, my major concern was how I would know if an online program was legitimate and if the school truly exists? I then realized the importance of checking the websites of universities and colleges for an accredited nursing program.
My other concerns were about my ability to learn outside of a classroom setting where I do not interact with my instructor or my classmates face-to-face but primarily through the use of a computer. I also wondered if textbooks would be in digital format. I was sharing a computer at home, so I wondered if a great deal of reading was required if it was in digital format?
There were about three nurses on my unit who were pursuing their BSN degree online. They willingly shared with me their experiences and were open to answering my questions. I had the opportunity to help one of these colleagues brainstorm on a few of her assignments. Through helping her, I felt the questions that she was required to answer were not impossible to write about. The questions required her to incorporate her reading assignment, cite from a scholarly article, and, if applicable, share her nursing practice. These three colleagues of mine did not seem overly stressed out during their years of study. Furthermore, all three of them were able to obtain their BSN degree, each colleague from a different school of nursing. Their accomplishment motivated me. I thought to myself, if my colleagues can juggle work and school at the same time, so can I.
Thus, I enrolled in the RN-BSN program at Loyola University New Orleans. I am currently in my second semester. I have adjusted well to online learning, getting “A’s” in the courses I have taken. The books can be read in either text or digital format. My instructors provide me with constructive feedback weekly. My classmates and I are open to help one another succeed. As an introverted person, I find that I interact more with my classmates online than if I were in a classroom setting. I find there is more flexibility in my life schedule to include studying time than if I were in a classroom setting. My writing has improved as I get more comfortable phrasing words to post/discuss with my classmates and instructor on Blackboard (an online platform where the instructors and students post discussions). I have an increased knowledge of nursing and at the same time I am not overwhelmed at balancing my life with my studies. Yes, I am surprised that online education works for me, and I will continue to choose it as my option for learning.