Continuing education is an important part of any successful nursing career. Just ask Dr. Teri Kaul, Herzing University’s Director of Online Nursing Curriculum and Outcomes.
As both a nurse practitioner and a nurse educator, Dr. Kaul has been able to stay ahead of the curve in a constantly evolving healthcare industry, helping nursing students and practicing nurses gain the knowledge and experience they need to advance their careers.
Recently, she spoke with the Wisconsin Student Nurses Association (WSNA) about what to consider when enrolling in an online RN-to-BSN or MSN program.
How did you get started in the nursing industry?
I’ve been a nurse for more than 30 years. I started as a diploma RN and later completed my BSN, MSN and eventually earned a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. When I started out, I had no idea the impact that continuing education would have on me and my career.
I’m currently working as a nurse practitioner and also as a nurse educator. Making nursing education accessible to people has always been a passion of mine because I truly understand how important this field is. Working with students keeps me current, and practicing allows me to draw on my own experience when teaching or creating curriculum.
How have nursing programs changed to meet current societal needs?
A lot has changed!
Healthcare has become increasingly complex, with more of a focus on keeping people out of hospitals. This means more nurses are working in their communities and in outpatient settings, which typically requires a BSN or higher. These nurses are taking on more responsibility for helping patients to remain healthy which requires a great deal of patient education.
Another change we’re seeing is the number of RN students earning their BSN and MSN degrees online. Practically speaking, this works well because these students have already been working as nurses and understand the foundation of the profession and the online learning format is more conducive to their lifestyle.
What’s your advice for people who are considering enrolling in an online nursing program but are concerned about their other commitments like family and work?
The first thing I always tell people is to educate their family and their support system. Earning a nursing degree at any level is hard work. It’s time-consuming and having a strong support system in place is invaluable.
Then, I talk to them about how to get started. The first few classes in the programs are introductory allowing students the opportunity to get a feel for the amount of time and work that will be required. Many students choose to start with just one course and see how it goes.
Something else I tell students is to make sure they’re proactively communicating with their instructors. Instructors aren’t mind-readers. But they are caring, and they can help, if the student communicates what’s happening.
Which brings up a final point: Always make sure the institution is really student-centered. Find out what academic advisors, tutors, nursing advisors and other resources will be available to you.