Advancing Your Nursing Degree: The Experienced Nurse's Guide to Returning to School

Advancing Your Nursing Degree: The Experienced Nurse's Guide to Returning to School

by Debra A. Wolff DNS, PCNP, RN


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Brimming with practical ideas and useful resources, this book will prepare nurses at all levels to advance and attain their educational goals. Each chapter details how to prepare and stay motivated for the journey ahead, including how to stop contemplating the decision and move forward. The book addresses common barriers and fears about a return to school, such as how to handle multiple responsibilities, refresh writing skills, finance a college education, and deal with the fears of technology or being too old. Through real-life examples from nurses who have faced the challenges of reentering college, Advancing Your Nursing Degree: The Experienced Nurse's Guide to Returning to School details the process of selecting a program, completing an application, and orienting to college life.

In a friendly and personal voice, this book describes the current academic environment and the expectations facing students today. Included are checklists on what to look for when deciding on a school and program, how to identify gaps in computer skills, and what resources may help promote ultimate success. Each chapter builds on the previous one and contains resources and examples on preparing mentally for the rigors of school, getting family and other support systems on board, balancing job responsibilities and schedules, sharpening academic and computer skills, setting up a study area that is conducive to success, and celebrating achievements along the way. The book also details ideas on how to finance a college education, including particular resources available to nurses. Although written for nurses at all educational levels, each chapter includes specific information for graduate nurses.

Key Features:
  • Distills practical advice from nursing students and faculty
  • Focuses on careful planning, which is the most important ability of nurses who achieve school success
  • Provides practical ideas for obtaining funding and clinical rotations
  • Written for nurses of all education levels and experience
  • Includes a checklist of items to consider when exploring program choices

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780826132864
Publisher: Springer Publishing Company
Publication date: 12/28/2016
Pages: 338
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Debra A. Wolff, DNS, PCNP, RN, is president/chief executive officer of NURSES-Ready for the Next Step, a business launched in 2013 to help prepare nurses for success in the next step of their education and career. She also teaches online at Empire State College. During her 38-year career in nursing, she has been a lifelong learner. Dr. Wolff earned a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York, Plattsburgh; a master's degree and a certificate as a nurse practitioner in community health from Binghamton University, and a doctoral degree in nursing science from The Sage Colleges, where she was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Society. Her dissertation, Registered Nurses Return to College: Lessons Learned From Hindsight, is the basis for much of this book's content. Currently, she is an active member of the New York Organization of Nurse Executives and Leaders, American Nurses Association and New York, Capital District Nursing Research Alliance, Northeast New York Professional Nurses Association, and the Albany Chapter of the American Statistical Association. From 2011 to 2013, Dr. Wolff was the project coordinator for the newly established Future of Nursing and New York State Action Coalition. In this capacity, she traveled throughout the state and interacted with nurses in all areas and at all levels of practice. She was the guest speaker at several nursing schools and professional organizations as well as the coauthor and data analyst for the New York State Nursing Schools and Faculty Report: 2010--2011. Before 2010, she was the project director for a cancer research project that enrolled 115 sites nationwide and collected data on over 4,500 patients receiving chemotherapy. She had the privilege of being the only nurse working with this interdisciplinary, multicultural team. She has published extensively in Cancer, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Journal of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Annals of Oncology, American Journal of Managed Care, Academic Medicine, Journal of Rural Health, and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. In 2010, Dr. Wolff completed a program as a certified synchronous learning expert and, in recent years, has been an abstract, journal, and textbook reviewer as well as a Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) grant reviewer.

Table of Contents




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

Selection Process

Selecting a Nursing Program

Course Selection


Clinical Experiences


4. The Application Process

The Application

Admission Selection Process


Accepting Previous Credits/Transfer of Credits

Letters of Recommendation

Entrance Tests

Curriculum Vitae/Résumé

Cover Letter or Personal Statement



Other Requirements

Acceptance or Nonacceptance Into a Program


Unit II: Preparation—The Key to Success

5. Mental–Emotional Preparation




Negative Thoughts and Behaviors to Avoid

Stress-Management Strategies


6. Financial Preparation

Financial Planning

Title IV of the Higher Education Act

Free Application for Federal Student Aid




Veterans’ Benefits


Personal Assets

Cost-Saving Measures

Tax Credits


7. Computer and Technology Preparation

Basic Computer Components

Operating Systems


Computer Skills

Internet Skills


Communication Tools and Social Media

Learning Platforms

How Technology Is Used in Academia


8. Academic Preparation

Characteristics of Adult Learners

Learning Styles

What Academic Skills Will You Need to Be Successful?

Writing Skills

Reading Skills

Note-Taking and Study Skills

Test-Taking Skills

Physical Examination Skills

Information Literacy Skills

Referencing Skills

Presentation Skills

Project Completion Skills

Statistical and Research Skills


9. Family/Social Preparation

Family Support

Social Support


10. Physical Preparation

A Place of Your Own

Shopping for School

Setting Up Your Area

Getting Around

Staying Healthy While in School


11. Work Preparation

Employee Benefits

Time Off for Classes

Prepare What to Say

Combine Work With School

Work at School


Unit III: Back in School

12. Take Action

Get Organized

Managing Time

Learn to Connect

Locating What You Need

What to Do if . . .


13. Enjoy the Journey

Find Balance

Keep Motivated

Celebrate Successes Along the Way

Enhance Your Professional Role

Be a Role Model

Pass It Forward

Final Message

Appendix: Barriers-to-Participation Survey


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