All healthcare-related degrees require a tremendous amount of effort. By choosing to study your degree from home, you must put in a large amount of work without classroom-based learning to guide you, which can often be challenging. It is more than doable, though, as long as you focus on the material and keep up with deadlines.
Whether you are studying to become a nurse, counselor, pharmacist, or any other healthcare role, here is how to make the most out of your online degree.
Consider Your Course Options
The first step is to ensure you choose the right course for you. You might know exactly what career you want to end up in, but do you know which the best online degrees are to get you there? Browse through universities and do your research before applying to courses. If you are looking to do an online masters in counseling, consider what you want to get out of your learning when doing your research. For example, you might be particularly interested in diversity and social issues, so make sure they are focused on in the curriculum.
Ask Your Work Placement Mentor for Advice
When pursuing a healthcare degree, you will more than likely be required to put in a number of work placement hours. This is great because it ensures you are well-trained to apply for professional roles upon completion of your degree. Plus, you will be assigned a mentor when you start, which is a crucial part of understanding the healthcare role itself.
As soon as you are given a mentor, make sure you make the most out of them by asking any burning questions, listening to their advice, and watching what they do. Remember – they have spent years in your dream career, so absorb as much information from them as you can. If you are studying an online masters in counseling, for example, take note of how to introduce themselves to patients and how they organize their patient documents.
Set Up a Study Space
While a lot of your degree will be spent doing work experience, you will need to put in many hours of studying at home. This is often far more challenging for students than in-classroom learning, as there are far more distractions. A simple way to ensure you do not end up scrolling through your phone or binge-watching Netflix is by setting up a designated study space.
Your study space should be clean, bright, and distraction-free. A couple of things you can do to ensure you make the most out of your study time include –
Clear the Clutter
A cluttered desk equals a cluttered mind. So, before getting out your textbooks and writing notes, clear your workspace of anything that is not related to your healthcare degree.
Create Enough Lighting
A dim room is not optimal for studying – you need to be able to read without squinting. Plus, bright lights reduce the chance of drowsiness, so invest in a quality desk lamp to ensure your study space is well lit.
Choose a Quiet Spot
It is difficult to study when you can hear conversations, a loud TV, and passing traffic. To give your mind the calm it needs to absorb information, choose the quietest spot in your home. That way, you can truly focus on your nursing degree or online masters in counseling.
Invest in Comfortable Furniture
For optimal brain function, you should think about your comfort. By investing in some quality furniture, like a comfortable desk chair and a spacious desk, you ensure your studying time is not interrupted by back pain or an overly crowded space.
Once you have created your perfect study spot in your home, you should use it for just that – study. That way, as soon as you sit down at your desk, your mind instantly enters work mode.
Create a Class Group Chat
You might think it is difficult to network and make friends in your class when you are studying online, but that is not true! By putting in the effort to chat to more of your classmates, you ensure you make lots of healthcare connections. A simple way to do this is by creating a class group chat. Not only will you make more friends, but you will also give everyone a safe space to ask questions, share notes, and chat about the challenges of studying healthcare from home.
Use Excellent Equipment
As a home student, you must use equipment that runs fast and does not let you down. So, before you start your healthcare degree, test out your current laptop, webcam, and internet connection to ensure you will never have a problem with video classes or accessing online textbooks. If you are worried about the cost, think about it like this – you can spend the money you have saved on transport to invest in high-quality tech that will make completing your degree much easier.
Speak Up in Online Lessons
Not being in a classroom does not give you a pass to sit quietly throughout every lesson. As a healthcare student, you are likely to need excellent communication skills once you start your career, so do not miss out on the opportunity to improve them during your studies. Plus, it will make a better impression on both your professors and your classmates, increasing your chances of being recommended for healthcare roles in the future.
It is particularly important to speak up in healthcare courses where the career requires a high level of communication, like an online masters in counseling. After all, counselors spend most of their day speaking to co-workers and patients, so it is better to get the practice in during your studies.
Do the Extra Reading
As an online student, you get what you put into the course. Doing the required reading is, of course, a must, but also doing the extra reading will ensure you are truly making the most of your years of education. Plus, you are likely to do better on your exams and assignments.
If you are doing an online masters in counseling, browse the web for quality books on mental health and emotional intelligence. The more you read, the more well-rounded your knowledge will be.
Make Easy-to-Read Study Notes
You might not always have time to read twenty dense pages of text, especially if you work alongside your healthcare degree. To make studying simpler on yourself during the busy days, write out easy-to-read study notes that you can quickly absorb. You could even make flashcards to take around with you everywhere you go!
Give Work Experience Your All
While you must study from home, your work experience will be in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic. When you are there, you must give it everything you have got and learn from all the workers around you. After all, that is your chance to speak to mentors in real life, so make the most out of it!
For students of an online masters in counseling, your work experience will likely be in a local community facility, so focus on learning the specific needs of that area, especially if you plan on working in that same location in the future.
Study Wherever You Can
While your home study space will prove crucial to your studies, you should also make the most of any piece of time you have to study. If you are waiting for the bus, you can pull out a textbook and do some reading. If you are on a work break, you can watch some informational videos on your phone. By doing this, you reduce the chances of falling behind on your work, especially if you have other obligations in your life alongside the degree.
Appreciate the New Skills You are Learning
While there might be some parts of education you will miss out on as an online learner, such as classrooms and in-person study groups, there are also some great advantages, such as the additional skills you will inevitably gain. These include –
Traditional learners have the benefit of a set timetable to follow, whereas you will have to set your own. This might prove a challenge, but it will vastly improve your time management skills, which are essential for all healthcare workers.
Over the years, online communication is only getting more and more common, especially in the healthcare world. Luckily for you, you will already have plenty of experience with it from your degree days.
With having to sort out your study notes and set up a workspace, your organization skills will soar. Once you enter your healthcare career, you will not have to think twice about keeping your workspace tidy or always having the correct equipment on your person.
Independence is essential for many healthcare careers. This is especially true if you are doing an online masters in counseling to become a counselor, as many mental health professionals work individually with patients. By learning how to work independently at this stage, you will have little trouble also doing it later on.
So, while you might feel like you are missing out on classrooms, remember to appreciate all the skills you are greatly improving during your online studies.
Be Tight with Your Schedule
While an online degree does provide flexibility, that does not mean you should be too flexible with your own time, as you could end up falling behind. At the start of each semester, create a study schedule and then stick to it as tightly as possible. It will not always be easy, and you will need to be more self-disciplined to ensure you do not fall behind on your course material.
Use Apps for Students
If you are struggling with time management, organization, or taking notes, there are plenty of apps out there for students. Whether you need an app that will transfer your voice notes into written notes or you need one that will help plan out your day, you will find one that does exactly what you need.
Make Use of Your Local Library
One of the disadvantages to studying from home is the lack of access to a school library. So, to make up for this, make sure you visit your local library as often as possible. If you are looking for more sources on mental health for your online masters in counseling, have a look in the psychology section of your library. Remember – librarians are there to help, so use them if you need to!
Keep a Note of Your Questions/Concerns
While you might not always be able to talk to your professor straight away, you can make a note of any questions or concerns you may have so that you can follow up later. For example, if you are going through some online material and you are finding one section a challenge, write a list of questions you want to ask your tutor the next time you email or video chat with them. They will be more than happy to help!
Take a Self-Care Day When Needed
While self-discipline and time management skills are essential, so is taking care of yourself. Make sure you a self-care day from time to time. It does not have to be a fully planned spa weekend – sometimes, a walk in fresh air is the perfect antidote to studying too long inside. Other times, you might just want to switch off the healthcare part of your brain by watching a move. If you are studying for an online masters in counseling, just remember to stay away from movies about mental health!
Remember Why You Started
There is no denying that some parts of your online degree will be tough – incredibly tough. In fact, there may even be times you want to shut off your computer and walk away from your studies forever. Do not worry – these feelings will not last long, and the most important thing is to think about why the degree is important to you.
Whether you are doing an online masters in counseling because you are passionate about mental health or you are studying to become a nurse because that is what your mother did, when times get tough, remember why you are doing your degree in the first place.
No one will tell you that studying for a degree online is easy. It will, however, provide you with excellent skills that will help you thrive in your future healthcare career, so make the most out of every moment.