The fact that you are reading this page tells me you are interested in going back to school. That is a great start! I hope you take the time to read this book and make a commitment to further your education. The path ahead will have its share of challenges; however, it will also expose you to some amazing faculty and colleagues, open doors to unique opportunities, and encourage you to look at health care and nursing through a different lens. What you learn from these pages will help make your journey a memorable one.
A question you may ask is, “What makes you qualified to write such a book, and what prompted your interest in this topic?“ To begin with, in recent years I have been both a student and an instructor, which helps me understand both roles. As a student, I faced many of the challenges presented in this book.
At present, I teach online and work with doctoral students to complete their dissertations, so I am aware of what each of these entail, too.
What sparked my interest in this topic initially was my own experience returning for a master’s degree. It had been over 16 years since I was in school, and I did not feel confident in my writing, presentation, or research skills. For several years, I vacillated about a return to school because the only available master’s degree program was 80 miles away, which did not seem feasible. I also worked full time in a very demanding job. However, the desire was always there.
Unit I: Starting the Journey
1. Introduction—The Initial Steps
Why Wait? Make the Decision
What Is Behind the Impetus for Advanced Education?
You Are Not Alone
Stages of Change
You Can Do This!
2. The Decisional Balance
What Motivates Nurses to Return to School?
What Barriers Do Nurses Encounter?
What Fears Do Nurses Express?
What Facilitates a Nurse’s Return to School?
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Tipping the Decisional Balance
3. Choices, Choices, Choices
Selecting a Nursing Program
4. The Application Process
Admission Selection Process
Accepting Previous Credits/Transfer of Credits
Letters of Recommendation
Cover Letter or Personal Statement
Acceptance or Nonacceptance Into a Program
Unit II: Preparation—The Key to Success
5. Mental–Emotional Preparation
Negative Thoughts and Behaviors to Avoid
6. Financial Preparation
Title IV of the Higher Education Act
Free Application for Federal Student Aid
7. Computer and Technology Preparation
Basic Computer Components
Communication Tools and Social Media
How Technology Is Used in Academia
8. Academic Preparation
Characteristics of Adult Learners
What Academic Skills Will You Need to Be Successful?
Note-Taking and Study Skills
Physical Examination Skills
Information Literacy Skills
Project Completion Skills
Statistical and Research Skills
9. Family/Social Preparation
10. Physical Preparation
A Place of Your Own
Shopping for School
Setting Up Your Area
Staying Healthy While in School
11. Work Preparation
Time Off for Classes
Prepare What to Say
Combine Work With School
Work at School
Unit III: Back in School
12. Take Action
Learn to Connect
Locating What You Need
What to Do if
13. Enjoy the Journey
Celebrate Successes Along the Way
Enhance Your Professional Role
Be a Role Model
Pass It Forward
Title: Advancing Your Nursing Degree: The Experienced Nurse’s Guide to Returning to School
Author: Debra a. Wolff