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Choose the right course for your nursing education
editors-note
EDITOR'S NOTE: Jennifer S. Mensik, PhD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, is division director of care management at Oregon Health and Science University and instructor for Arizona State University College of Nursing and Health Innovation DNP program. She also is treasurer for the American Nurses Association. Formerly, Mensik was vice president of CE programming for Nurse.com published by OnCourse Learning. A second-edition book she authored, "The Nurse Manager's Guide to Innovative Staffing," won third place in the leadership category for the American Journal of Nursing Book of the Year Awards 2017.
The Institute of Medicine’s 2010 Report, “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” calls for 80% of RNs in the U.S. to have bachelor’s degrees by 2020 and double the number of nurses who have doctoral degrees. And that’s inspiring nurses to further their education.
You might be considering pursuing a degree to become a nurse practitioner, one of the most recognized advance practice role for nurses. But bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees prepare nurses for so much more than the advance practice registered nurse role. What is your ultimate goal? Ask yourself:

What is your passion?
What do you want to spend the next 5, 10 or 25 years doing?

Think about other roles, such as a nurse educator in a healthcare setting or university, nurse researcher, nurse informatics specialist or a nurse executive. There is a shortage of both faculty and nurse managers. Write down your goal, listing pros and cons, and consider what rings most true to you. 
Decide if you want to study online only, in the classroom only or prefer to use a combination of both platforms? Ask yourself:

Do I prefer to listen to a lecture in a classroom or online?

Which friends have graduated from online and traditional programs and what did they like and dislike about the platform they chose?

You might think online is easier because of less travel, but there’s lots to do online, including interacting via discussion boards and watching PowerPoint presentations with other classmates. Technology has advanced for online learning to connect students and the faculty in new ways. Be open to all the new ways to learn.
Write down your goal, listing pros and cons, and consider what rings most true to you
- Jennifer Mensik, RN
But before you go back to school, take the time to really consider your goal and platform, and vow to make a realistic time commitment. These three major decisions can have a big impact on your success.
Know your goal
Choose your platform
With so many programs available, you’ll likely find one to meet your needs. But before enrolling in a program, think about what you might have to give up in your life so you have the time to complete your studies. Program time commitments vary. Some schools prefer or even require students to attend classes full time. Some have specific requirements such as taking one class every eight weeks or three classes per semester. Netflix binges may have to wait until a semester break, and long vacations may have to be postponed until you complete your degree.

Make a time commitment
Occasionally when I teach, I’ve had students complain about the amount of required reading. I remind them that one credit hour equals three hours of work outside the classroom weekly, so just one three-credit-hour course will require, on average, nine hours per week of work outside the classroom. As a nurse educator, my goal is for my students to demonstrate their mastery of the objectives and the topic, not to make them read for reading’s sake.

The Future of Nursing Report states nurses should achieve higher levels of education and training and practice to the full extent of their education and training. This statement is meant for all RNs and ARRNs, regardless of their roles.
So, who do you want to be in the future? Carefully think through the goal, platform and time considerations, then enroll in a program. And remember: Anything is possible.
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J-Mensik
By Jennifer Mensik
PHD, MBA, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN 
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3 mammoth decisions nurses should make before going back to school
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Contents
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Make 3 mammoth decisions
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Choose your goal and platform before heading back to school.
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Create a winning resume
Jump ahead of the competition with a top-notch resume.
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Salaries on the upswing
Find out how your salary compares to RNs across the country.
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Job satisfaction study
RNs reveal how they really feel about their jobs.
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Avoid turbulent travel nursing
Seek advice on travel contracts before signing on the dotted line.
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5 tips for job interviews
Make a memorable first impression at your next interview.
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Is travel nursing for you?
If you have an adventurous spirit, you might like this specialty.
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CE COURSE: Terminal degrees
PhD, EdD, DNP — which one should you pursue?
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Legally protect your practice
Know the tools you need to protect your license from potential liability.
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Get on boards when job hunting
Nursing job boards can help you find the perfect job.
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Boost your career trajectory
The right plan and tools will help you carve out a successful career.
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Get to the heart of bioethics
Big ethical decisions have a way of influencing all aspects of RNs' lives.
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Speak their language
Bilingual nurses are in demand by recruiters.
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Engaging millennials
Nurse leaders are finding ways to retain younger nurses.
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Healthcare in the outlands
Rural areas seek nurses willing to make the move.
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Continuing education catalog
Read this list of CE modules geared toward your professional growth.
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CE COURSE: Precepting
Find out why preceptors are critical to the nursing profession.
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Protect against retaliation
Nurse attorney discusses your discrimination rights on the job.
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Tips on how to change jobs
When you're ready for a new career direction make a flight plan first.
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Learn how to keep the peace
Conflict management isn't easy, but it's worth the time and effort.
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Job search like a pro
Become a savvy job seeker by following these guidelines.
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FREE CE: Become empowered
Learn how to gain a greater voice at your organization.
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