The ultimate job interviewee is somebody who can combine requisite qualifications with hands-on, real-world experience.
This is true in many industries and niches, but it is particularly valued in the world of nursing, where the application of knowledge in the practical environment is key.
Many people wonder how they can gain experience in a nursing setting while studying. Choosing the right degree will afford them the time and opportunity to undertake periods of clinical training while learning theoretical elements.
You can easily learn more about online nursing degrees that combine both of these elements, even if you are not currently a nurse and are looking to break into the field as a second career. These programs ultimately help prospective nurses and healthcare professionals to check off the necessary boxes that make them more employable – that is, by taking on board knowledge and applying that in the fast-paced and often high-pressured working environment.
Developing your nursing style
One of the things that employers in the nursing sector are seeking is graduates who can display a holistic approach to their care provision.
This is not a profession where a cookie-cutting, formulaic approach is welcomed because the breadth of people and cases that a nurse will see in the average week is so diverse. This calls for individualized, sensitive care, so flexibility and agility are of paramount importance.
Those with a patient-centered delivery style are becoming increasingly attractive to employers in the sector. It’s about treating each individual in your care as a person rather than a number on a clipboard that needs dealing with. The ability to display holistic, patient-focused care will enhance your employability exponentially.
It’s a personalized approach that creates a rapport, builds trust and breaks down the barriers that can exist between a nurse and their patient. Care provision becomes so much more than simply diagnosing and treating a physical injury or illness.
Providing physical care while also looking at ways to ensure mental health and personal needs are met is the rounded approach that nursing professionals have to be able to deliver – and this is why choosing the right degree is so vital.
Pick a course that aims to deliver the skill set and knowledge needed to deliver holistic care, and one that affords students plenty of time and opportunity to gain experience in the field applying their learning. This not only looks impressive on your resumé, but it will also instill you with the confidence to hit the ground running in your first job after your studies.
Excelling in a real-world nursing environment during your studies may help you to build a network of contacts in the sector, and if you can secure a letter of recommendation from a respected senior nurse who praises your performance, you will find that obtaining full-time employment at the end of your studies will become easier as a result.
Online learning for the physical world
Earning an online degree can feel strange for those studying to become professionals in a hands-on, physical environment. However, the beauty of this mode of learning is that the course can be taken in a flexible way that is tailored to your personal circumstances. Are you raising a family and only have a small amount of spare time? Are you looking to balance your learning with another job? Are you wanting to study but unable to relocate to a campus?
These are just three of the scenarios in which online learning holds advantages over what we might describe as “traditional” studying, and you still get that necessary balance between learning the theories and knowledge of medical training and then taking that understanding out with you into a practical setting.
One of the things that puts off students, particularly those who are a little older and seeking a career change, is an inability to commit three years or more to campus life. The truth is that many of us don’t want to leave our hometown to study – especially when we have busy home lives to manage, and perhaps elderly or young family members to look after. If you are considering a complete career change, the thought of going through the classic college experience might feel particularly off-putting, as does the worry about securing appropriate student housing, finance and everything else involved in higher education.
With remote, distance learning, all of the course materials are presented online, so you can dip in and out of the lectures, tutorials and discussion groups at the times that suit you without even needing to leave home. There’s no awkwardness in having to make friends and study buddies, and online degrees really are the smart way to go for nursing hopefuls who want to dip in and out of their learning when time allows.
You will still have to complete assignments and take exams, of course, but these can be scheduled in a way that suits you. There really is no pressure to be in a given place at a given time with online degree courses.
It takes discipline, time management and working on your own initiative to become a self-learner, but these all happen to be attributes that the average employer craves in their staff? By taking on a course of online study, you are actually arming yourself with the personal, transferable skills that will become incredibly useful to you in your nursing career.
It is true that many people feel more comfortable communicating with others online than they do in person, so the collaborative nature of remote learning can add value to your experience. Whether it’s engaging in discussion groups or talking directly with instructors and mentors, you can access answers to your questions without the social awkwardness of putting your hand up to speak in a packed lecture hall.
You’ll hone your critical thinking skills, too. There’s no procrastination or daydreaming with an online degree because every minute counts in your quest to achieve your degree. Again, this is the kind of bonus that employers are seeking. Your ability to juggle education with work and/or family life showcases how dedicated you are to the nursing profession and reveals your ability to operate effectively despite facing numerous pressures on your time.
A need for speed
Another perk of some online nursing degrees is the fact that you can be qualified and accredited in just two years.
These accelerated programs, which are typically available to everyone – regardless of whether you have a degree in a completely different field already – can take as little as 16 months to complete and enable you to fast-track your new career and get out onto the frontline in rapid fashion. Traditional nursing degrees tend to take much longer.
With accelerated online programs, you won’t have to wait too long before you embark on your exciting new career, and you won’t miss out on any of the key elements that other trainee nurses are experiencing.
Accelerated nursing degrees combine the theoretical and the practical, so you’ll rack up plenty of hours in a clinical setting as well as studying from home, at the library or wherever you choose to bunker down with your laptop.
Whether you want to fulfill a lifetime ambition of working with the sick and vulnerable or you want to climb the ranks and become a manager or senior practitioner in a healthcare facility, you can achieve the foundation you need to become a Registered Nurse with an accelerated online course that you can take from home at a time to suit you. It’s a great way to make a complete change in your career.
Going from learning about nursing to actually practicing it in real life can be a daunting and stressful time.
However, the beauty of online degree courses in the field is that they help to prepare you for the role by setting you up with a preceptor. This is essentially a mentor nurse who has been in the profession for a decent amount of time.
Your preceptor will help you transition from student to professional, affording you the reassurance and support of having an experienced clinician in your corner. One of the biggest difficulties that student nurses have is stepping up as a full-time employee and dealing with patients on a daily basis – and perhaps not having the confidence to carry out all of the tasks required.
A preceptor will help to instill that belief in you, offering reassurance about your practice and any helpful hints that will help you to improve along the way. An effective preceptor program helps to retain student nurses, particularly those who may be lacking in self-belief.
As far as your employability is concerned, working alongside a preceptor will ensure that you have another point of contact to refer prospective employers to, and if all goes well, they will be only too happy to write you a letter of recommendation and act as a reference on your resumé.
Many nursing degrees, even those that are delivered mostly online, will have a preceptor element to them, so you can feel like a weight is lifted off your shoulders as you undertake clinical work in a real-world healthcare environment.
No time like the present
The inconvenient truth is that the healthcare profession could be wading into choppy waters in the years to come.
It has been estimated that some 4.7 million nursing professionals in the United States will retire within the next decade, and that total doesn’t include those who will reduce their hours as they get a little older or perhaps leave the sector altogether.
If you add that 4.7 million to the existing shortfall in the healthcare industry, it has been suggested that around 10 million new nurses and associated workers will need to be employed within the next ten years.
In the UK, the picture has been just as bleak, with nurses leaving the healthcare system altogether. As of March 2022, there were more than 110,000 open vacancies for doctors, nurses and other frontline personnel that were unfilled.
This means that in one sense, there has never been a better time to be a nursing graduate as there is a wealth of opportunity available to you both in North America and around the globe.
However, you still need to enhance your employability as much as possible to ensure that you are getting interviewed for the right job and not just any role in nursing. This brings us back to the question of how securing your nursing master’s degree will help you to stand out from the crowd.
Increasing your employability
One of the reasons you are looking to become a nurse is so you can make a positive difference in the lives of those who pass through your care.
It’s such a noble thing to do, yet it is frustrating that not all student nurses are able to walk into their dream job immediately after completing their studies.
There is no doubt that a master’s degree in nursing will enhance your employability in the sector, and even if you don’t have a background in a related subject, you can still traverse onto a nursing-related course if you have the passion to make a difference in peoples’ lives.
A survey conducted in 2020 found that 75% of student nurses had already secured a job in the healthcare sector at the time of their graduation, and this figure climbed to around 93% for the six-month period after completing a degree.
The vast majority of nursing graduates will find a job very quickly after donning their cap and gown, so it goes without saying that a master’s degree in nursing will increase your employability significantly.