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Nurses share secrets to maintaining balance, pursuing further education and self-care

Monday July 11, 2011
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The number of bachelor's-prepared RNs in the U.S. rose from 22.3% in 1980 to 36.8% in 2008, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. The number of master's- and doctorate-prepared RNs nearly tripled from 1980 to 2008 — from 5.2% to 13.2%.

Nurse.com asked nurses what their secrets are to successfully achieving advanced education and continued self-care without making significant professional or personal sacrifices.


Elaine Keavney, RN
Elaine Keavney, RN, MSN
Director, RN-to-BSN program • American Public University System

Q. How does your school support nurses as they strive to achieve balance between a career, personal life and advanced education?

A. A growing number of today's working nurses are finding that online education options can help them more readily achieve work/life balance while advancing their careers. American Public University, an online university based in Charles Town, WV, introduced its RN-to-BSN program in January 2011, providing degree-advancement opportunities to students who have previously earned an associate degree in nursing.

Online schooling, unlike the more traditional "on-ground" instruction offered by brick- and mortar- universities, offers students the flexibility to study at times that are convenient for them. This is especially important for nurses working evening and night shifts. In addition, our affordable tuition, just $750 per three-credit course for undergraduates, makes education affordable for working nurses, and also provides the financial flexibility for them to take courses at a rate that enables them to complete their degree in approximately two years.


Diane Arathuzik, RN
Diane Arathuzik, RN, MSN, ACNS-BC, PhD
Chair of Department of Nursing in Graduate and Professional Programs • Emmanuel College, Boston


Q. What does your school offer to nurses who are looking to achieve success in their education?

A. Emmanuel College's undergraduate and graduate programs in nursing were developed with an appreciation for students' busy schedules, both personally and professionally. Classes meet every other week during a six- or seven-week span depending upon the program, enabling them to fit academics into their existing schedule. Plus, all modified accelerated courses include a major element of independent study, and students can set their own pace with flexible program scheduling.

Students often share with us their appreciation for a program that embraces their needs and respects them as individuals. They find our offerings attractive and accessible, as we offer classes at our Boston campus, located in the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, as well as our Woburn campus. As RNs, our students' lives revolve around caring for others. In turn, we strive to offer degree programs that revolve around them.

Diana Bane, RN
RN-to-BSN student • American Public University System


Q. What opportunities have helped you maintain work-life balance as you further your nursing education?

A. I always knew that I wanted to attend an online school for my BSN. I work full time as an RN in a busy ED, and take care of my Active Duty Navy husband. Attending a brick-and-mortar school just would not be feasible with the constant moves. It would also be difficult to attend a physical classroom due to the schedule. I work 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and would not be able to stop work for a few hours to run to class.

I love the flexibility of taking an online class. Yes, we have due dates for assignments, but as long as the assignments are turned in by the proper time, the teachers don't care when you do the work. I used to spend a lot of time in the middle of the night reposting to forum comments and working on my projects. The school has also made research more user friendly for busy people. Now instead of having to use a local library or sort through bad resources on the internet, the school library has given us access to all the nursing journals we could possibly need, which gives us the most up-to-date information, and is always open. When you are working full time and taking care of a house or raising a family, it can be difficult to get work done in a traditional 16-week class. Only having an eight-week class should make it harder, due to the fact that so much information has to be squeezed in to a short time. However, the teachers have laid out plans that enable us to learn and discuss our learning without being overwhelmed with busy work, as you might find in a longer class. The online forums allow us to interact with one another and share our insights. I feel this is more helpful because I can later go back and look at things that were said and incorporate those into my studying, rather than only relying on my own notes.

Being in an online community may seem fairly anonymous, however its really not. We share our lives and experiences with one another. The students and teachers know what's going on in your life and are always willing to give a helping hand. The teachers are always available to speak with us either via email or phone which, again is just more convenient. While online schooling might not be right for everyone, I know that's it right for me and fits in nicely to my busy schedule.


Greer Glazer, RN
Greer Glazer, RN, PhD, CNP, FAAN
Dean and professor, College of Nursing and Health Sciences • University of Massachusetts Boston

Q. In what special ways has your school supported nurses' self-care?

A. Promoting healthy lifestyles is one of UMASS Boston's College of Nursing and Health Sciences core values. Our collaborative approach to education has allowed us to initiate programs such the Go Red for Health Stepping Challenge, designed to promote heart health. Faculty, students and staff worked in teams to incorporate regular exercise such as walking meetings, recreational classes or personal training with our students into their schedule. Faculty organized a heart-healthy potluck and offered health and nutrition tips to participants. Eighty-seven participants from 12 teams wore pedometers and recorded their daily steps, covering 16,600 miles over the six-week challenge.