Top Tips For Excelling In Your Post-Master’s FNP Degree
Undertaking a graduate-level qualification in nursing can be tough. Of course, as a nurse with a Master’s of Science in Nursing degree (MSN), you’re certainly already well aware of that fact! Yet, at the same time, completing such a course can open doors for you, teach you valuable new clinical skills, and broaden your specialist knowledge. So there’s no reason to let the potential challenges prevent you from working towards your dream.
For those who are hoping to switch specialties and move into a career as a family nurse practitioner (FNP), taking a second degree MSN is a fantastic option. This article goes into the qualification in more detail and also covers some top tips for ensuring that you not only ace the program but do so while taking good care of your mental and physical health. After all, that’s what becoming a nurse is all about.
What is a Post-Master’s FNP?
A Post-Master’s FNP is a high-level qualification that is designed for active registered nurses who already have an MSN in another specialty. It enables you to expand your career opportunities by building clinical competencies that are specific to pediatric, adolescent, adult, and older adult populations. This includes common issues in women’s and children’s health, as well as mental health disorders.
Family nurse practitioners care for patients of all ages, helping them to manage chronic health issues as well as educating them on how to live a healthy lifestyle. The Post-Master’s FNP program involves completing a mixture of taught academic modules alongside a relevant clinical placement, so you’ll both broaden your knowledge and gain hands-on experience in a real-world setting.
Since the course is a second degree MSN, you must already hold a Master’s degree in nursing in order to be eligible to enroll. This also means that the program can move at a quicker pace and doesn’t have to cover the most basic topics because the entire cohort will be at a more advanced level.
What are the advantages of studying this program?
There is a wide range of benefits to be gained by taking a Post-Master’s family nurse practitioner degree. Firstly, if you have been considering making a move into this specific area of nursing, then it can be an effective way to get the knowledge and skills you need to succeed. You’ll also gain relevant experience during the clinical placement, plus have the opportunity to network with academic staff, professional FNPs, and your fellow students. This is brilliant for both building your list of contacts and making some lifelong friends.
In addition to the clinical skills and subject-specific knowledge you’ll get by undertaking this degree, you will also develop a number of useful transferable skills. Also known as ‘soft skills,’ these are talents that will be helpful to you in both your private and professional life. Examples include communication, leadership, teamwork, organization, time management, analytical thinking, problem-solving, and confidence. College level study of any kind will help you grow strengths in all sorts of areas you might not expect!
The reality of doing a graduate nursing course
Having looked at the positives of going back to college for a second MSN degree, it’s worth noting some of the challenges that doing so involves. As you will know from your experience doing your first MSN, nursing study can be tough. You’ve got classes to attend, assignments to complete, and clinical hours to fulfill, in addition to carrying out independent learning. Not to mention, nursing can be a high-pressure environment to work in.
That said, being a nurse is also extremely rewarding. If moving into a role as an FNP is your dream, you shouldn’t let the prospect of hard work put you off! All it means is that you should take steps to ensure that you protect your mental and physical health during your studies. This will help to prevent you from burning out and give you a better chance of passing all of your assessments with flying colors!
The remainder of this post is dedicated to enabling you to both excel in your studies and stay happy and healthy while doing so.
Study tips for mature students
Taking a second MSN degree inevitably means that you will be studying as a mature student. The good news is that so will everyone else on the program, so you don’t need to worry about being the odd one out! If it’s been a while since you undertook any formal education, you might be a bit apprehensive about going back to college. This is perfectly natural, but you can overcome such feelings through proactive prior preparation and a sensible approach to your studies.
Here are some top study tips:
- Start all of your reading and assignments well in advance of the deadlines to avoid last-minute panic and all-night study sessions
- Take some time to figure out what learning style suits you best, and then lean into your strengths
- Write your notes out by hand rather than on a computer, as this can help you to retain the information better
- Study a little bit every day to keep the material fresh in your mind, rather than trying to cram everything into one session a week. Cover a different topic every day for maximum results
- Take regular short breaks when studying to help your brain focus for longer overall
- Instead of simply reading over your notes and textbooks multiple times, try to test yourself on the information and see how much you can recall – this is a far more effective study technique
- Try explaining the concepts you’re learning to someone else as a way to highlight the gaps in your knowledge
- Ask your professors about anything that you’re unclear on. They are there to help you and definitely won’t think you’re a poor student because you didn’t understand everything immediately – no one does!
- Use an app that blocks you from accessing social media or other distracting websites in order to help you focus more efficiently when studying
How to excel during an online degree
One study option that’s becoming increasingly popular is to take a post masters FNP online. This offers greater flexibility while still giving you a highly respected qualification. Plus, the clinical placements are still carried out in person, meaning you don’t suffer from any lack of hands-on experience or the chance to receive direct feedback on your performance.
If you’re considering going down this route but are unfamiliar with distance learning, there are a few steps you can take to prepare. Doing so will ensure you are able to make the most of this innovative way of studying.
- Set yourself up with a dedicated space to study at home. The specifics will, of course, vary depending on your accommodation. However, ideally, you want to have a desk and ergonomic chair in a quiet part of the house. Good lighting will help to prevent eye strain, so try to choose a spot near a window or get a good quality desk lamp.
- Plan a study schedule that fits around any existing commitments you have. Some aspects of your timetable will be flexible, enabling you to work at a time, place, and pace that suits you. It doesn’t matter whether it’s first thing in the morning, in the afternoon once you’ve finished your errands, or later in the evening when the kids have gone to bed – just try not to rely on fitting study sessions in randomly as and when you can.
- Enroll in a free, short internet course before your online MSN degree begins. This will help you to get comfortable with the idea of virtual learning and try out some of the software and teaching methods that you might be using.
- Read some blogs by current students on the course that you’re applying for. Many colleges have these on their websites these days, and they can be super helpful for finding out more about what it’s like to study in the program. You’re sure to pick up some useful pieces of advice too!
Staying healthy as a nursing student
Nurses dedicate themselves to helping others, so you’re certainly already well aware of how important it is to look after your health. Yet this is often something that falls by the wayside during graduate studies because of how busy you are. This is a big mistake because your health has a big impact on your cognitive functions – and, therefore, your chances of graduating with top marks.
Try to make taking care of yourself a priority right from the start with the following tips:
- Eat a balanced diet that is high in fresh fruit and vegetables – aim to include lots of different colored options to ensure you get the maximum nutrition. Other foods to put in your meal plans are legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
- Try to avoid unhealthy junk food, processed meat, and sugary snacks. Of course, the occasional treat is ok!
- Aim to drink six to eight glasses of water a day to stay hydrated – this is vital for memory and concentration. To encourage yourself to drink more, you can buy sparkling water or infuse tap water with cucumber, lemon, lime, or other fruits. Green and herbal teas are also a great option.
- Steer clear of sugary sodas, energy drinks, and alcohol. Coffee is ok in moderation.
- Engage in some form of exercise every day. This could be anything from walking, yoga, or hitting the gym to dance, martial arts, or team sports, as long as it’s physically active and enjoyable. Nursing can be quite a physical job, with long hours spent on your feet – making this point an especially important one.
How to take care of your wellbeing during your nursing studies
As well as your physical health, if you want to succeed during your post-MSN FNP program, you need to look after your mental wellbeing. This will help you to better deal with the pressure of graduate studies and avoid burnout.
Some ideas for how to practice self-care are listed below – the best options for you will vary according to your personality and life circumstances, so feel free to try out as many as possible and see which get you the most effective improvements:
- Five or ten minutes of meditation
- A deep breathing exercise
- Taking a long walk along the beach or in the countryside
- Engaging in a creative hobby, for example, music, arts or crafts
- Spending quality time with your family and friends
- Connecting with other students on your course for support and motivation
- Enjoying a long hot bath
- Putting on your favorite upbeat music, then dance and sing along to it
- Curling up on the sofa with a good book or watching your favorite movie
- Using journaling as a way to work through negative feelings
- Reminding yourself of why you enrolled on the course in the first place and visualizing your future career after graduation
Top tips for getting enough sleep as a nursing student
A good night’s sleep is crucial for your cognitive abilities, so as a nursing student taking a post-MSN FNP program, it must be a priority. Aim for seven to nine hours of shuteye a night – you’ll not only feel more alert and refreshed, but your memory, concentration, and ability to learn will also all be stronger.
If you find it difficult to drift off or to stay asleep, try these tips:
- Stick to a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time every day of the week
- Hanging blackout curtains and/or wearing an eye mask at night to block out light from outside or within your bedroom
- Keep your bedroom at a cool temperature
- Avoid caffeine and screen use late at night
- Listen to an audiobook or sleep story when you get into bed. Focusing on this can stop your brain from thinking about other things and preventing you from sleeping
- Write down your worries before going to bed to stop them from keeping you awake
- If you’re in bed and can’t sleep, don’t just lie there getting annoyed. Instead, get up and do something calming like reading a book until you feel sleepy, and then go back to bed.