How to Stay Healthy and Productive While Tackling a Nursing Degree

To say that nursing is a demanding job is, to put it mildly. Nurses are the backbone of care, but they are also the face that patients and their families see. They are the ones who deal with the human element of healthcare more than anyone else in the entire industry. They are there to comfort, to reassure, to console. They are there through the worst experiences people go through in their lives, regardless of whether they make a full recovery or not.

People don’t like being in hospitals, but a good nurse can change everything. A good nurse isn’t just good for patient satisfaction. More RNs on staff contributes to a 10% increase in patient outcome and saves lives.

RNs are not just caretakers. They are healthcare professionals. Higher-level nurses even take over many of the tasks of certified doctors.

Nursing Educators

You can become an RN in most states without a BSN, but you cannot go further. Unfortunately for those who don’t push forward through their BSN and MSN, they will never be eligible for higher levels of pay, nor be able to work in the more rewarding and interesting roles of nursing, like educating.

Nurse educators need to go beyond a BSN. They need to go further than their MSN. And yet only 1% of nurses hold a doctorate degree. This lack of nurses with a doctorate means that the job demand for nurse educators is massive. If you want to take a step back later in your career and enjoy a role with a great work/life balance, then it is certainly a great job to consider.

This same job demand, however, means that as much as 75,000 qualified applicants are turned away from their degree every year. Don’t be discouraged. You can do so much while you are waiting to enroll that will help you stay healthy and productive during your degree:

Staying Healthy While Tackling a Nursing Degree

Improving your health and routines before your degree can help you tackle both studying and a career without burning yourself out.

Improving Your Diet to Increase Natural Energy Levels

Your diet is a great place to start. The body contains complex systems, and each one of those systems requires various nutrients and vitamins to thrive. We all know this, but getting the vitamins and nutrients necessary – especially on a busy schedule – can feel impossible.

Thankfully a few easy switches, and a commitment to prepping meals in advance, are the only things you need to do to see a huge difference in your natural energy levels.

Improve Your Food

To start, you will want to focus on foods that offer high levels of:

  • Carbohydrates
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin B6
  • Omega 3
  • Vitamin B12
  • Fiber
  • Manganese
  • Protein
  • And more

Bananas, eggs, fish, apples, sweet potatoes, and brown rice are just a few of the foods that will make you feel more energized throughout the day. Your goal isn’t just to enjoy a short burst of energy that ends in a crash, which is what sugars and caffeine give you. Your goal is to fundamentally change your energy levels so that you can do more in your day.

Prep Your Food

When we don’t have energy or time, the fastest and easiest thing is the only thing that we want. Unfortunately, this quick and easy dinner is often lacking in nutrients and high in calories. Both combined make one feel lethargic and dead on their feet.

By prepping healthy meals or at least things like sauces, you can make your cooking so much better without overloading yourself on days you work.

Getting a Better Night’s Sleep Even on a Shift Schedule

Shift schedules can ruin a good night’s sleep. The body’s internal routines and cycles don’t have the chance to sync up and get in a consistent rhythm. Without this rhythm, your brain physically cannot get a good night’s rest.

There are a few tricks you can have up your sleeve. If you cannot use the time to set your cycle, use routine. Do the same actions, listen to the same music, and enjoy the same scents before bed and when you wake up every single time.

Regularly Learning Opportunities, You Can Start Now

The last part of your at-home routine that you are going to want to develop while waiting for your degree to begin is learning. Learning is incredibly good for your mind and wellbeing, and you don’t necessarily have to make it entirely about your career. For now, just getting in the right habits is the only thing you need to worry about.

1.    Medical News and Journals

If you do want to do more for your career, than by all means, start to get into the habit of reading medical news and journals on your commute or before bed. They can help you stay on top of your career and can even help you get ahead with your degree in the future.

Otherwise, just read! Getting into the habit of reading will do wonders towards helping you study later on.

2.    Online Short Courses

Another way to either further your career or just get you into the hang of studying on a regular schedule is through online courses. Some are even entirely free to take, others are very affordable and offer certifications when you are done. Though you won’t be able to take anything in these short courses that will help you qualify for an RN or APRN, you can take courses that help you round out your education and help in the more holistic areas of your job.

3.    Podcasts and Talks

Another way to learn on the go, and even delve deeper into healthcare as a whole, is through podcasts and online talks. Many are free and can be listened to while you are working in non-patient-facing roles or even on your commute.

4.    Shadow Others at Work

Other ways you can learn before your degree is to ask to shadow others at work. Different roles and more importantly, various departments can shed light into the areas of medicine that you are most interested in. Dependent on the size of the hospital you work for, this can even help you network and later move on to open positions where you want.

Translating These Routines to Your Degree

Getting into the habit of learning on your own time and the job will make it so much easier to start working on your degree. Routines do wonders towards normalizing our energy levels, meaning you can tackle it all without burning yourself out.

Staying Productive While Tackling a Nursing Degree

When you do finally begin your next nursing degree, there are a few additional tips that will help you succeed even further:

Study on a Schedule

Try to make your study schedule and when you work on your online degree as consistent as possible. Suppose you can see if your employer would be happy to make your schedule more consistent than it was before so that you can obtain your degree faster. Employers need more RNs with BSN or higher, and so they should be more accommodating to help you achieve your higher certifications.

Break Regularly to Improve Productivity

Push yourself too hard, and you will burn out. The brain cannot do too much without just snapping. When you reach this point, it might be harder and harder to recover. By taking regular breaks while studying, which includes a mixture of shorter breaks and larger ones for food and drinks, you can stay on task and be able to work much more consistently on your own.

Host a Study Group

You don’t, however, have to do it all alone. You can host or join a study group either within your workplace or online with your fellow students. Create notes for different topics and share the important information that you need so you can study better and work out concepts you don’t understand.

Work Towards the Future You Want

These tips will help you through all of your degrees and any further certifications you will want to take to specialize yourself into your dream position. All you need is to have that goal and to find out what it takes to get there. In healthcare, every role has very clear-cut requirements, making it easy to build up your resume and see your dreams come true.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Most online degrees today can be taken on a part-time basis. This means it takes you longer overall, but if the alternative is to push yourself too far and burn yourself out, then there is no contest. You need to put your health and wellbeing first. Only when you take care of yourself can you succeed both at your degree and work. You can do both, while still maintaining a social life and giving yourself time to relax; it’s what you’ll need to power through your BSN, MSN, and even doctorate degrees.


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