I’m an LPN – Should I get an associate or bachelor’s degree? If you’re pondering this question, you’re in the right place. Deciding which degree to get is a big decision and investment. The purpose of this blog is to give you an overview of the differences between an Associate Degree in Nursing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, including the advantages and disadvantages of each specifically for LPNs.


Why move from an LPN?

There are many differences between an RN and an LPN. You’re probably aware of most of them, but there are four main reasons you should advance:

  • While you may assist in taking vitals and sometimes administer medications as an LPN, as an RN you will have an advanced knowledge base and the critical thinking skills to work in an acute care setting and care for patients with more advanced needs. 
  • Rather than reporting to an RN in your facility, you will have more independence and have more of a voice within the health care team.
  • You are more likely to be selected for new, exciting opportunities and promotions if you have the ‘RN’ behind your name, not to mention that registered nurses are in higher demand. NursingLicensure.org reads, “Nursing is one of the few fields where there is more demand at the higher levels of practice than the lower ones. Nationwide, there are far more RNs with active licenses than LPNs — 3,236,288 to 816,687. Why? Their skills – and legally allowable duties — are needed.”
  • Finally the big one – get paid more! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average RN’s salary was 24,000 higher than the average LPN’s.


ASN vs BSN Degree for LPNs

There are many pros and cons to each program, so how do you decide which is right for you? We’ve decided to just give you a clear summary of the benefits of each program to help you decide which is right for your situation.


Benefits of an LPN-to-ADN Program

  • Speed. An ADN program is much faster to complete because it is only a two-year degree. At Nightingale College, LPNs can graduate from the ADN Program in as few as eight months due to our LPN Advanced Placement Program. (To request info from admissions about the program, click here.) For those looking to advance their career to the next step quickly, an ADN may be the best option; however, because of the speed, these programs can be quite intense, making it difficult to continue working full time.
  • Money Faster. Completing an ADN program only takes two years, (or as little as 8 months for LPNs at Nightingale). You get to start working as an RN faster, which increases the cash flow. And if you decide later that you want to pursue a BSN, you can always bridge to that later, and many RN-to-BSN programs are offered completely online. (But you can’t go straight from LPN to BSN online!)
  • ROI. For as little time as you invest, there really is a large salary differential from LPN to RN.


Benefits of an LPN-to-BSN Program

    • Intensity. Many BSN programs can be slower paced, which allows you to keep working without burning yourself out so quickly. If you have other responsibilities, like a family for example, this program will allow you more flexibility to be with them.
    • Cost. If your plan is to become a BSN nurse no matter what, a BSN program is going to be cheaper than enrolling in an LPN-to-RN program then enroll into an RN-to-BSN program. BSN programs also tend to have a lower monthly payment than ADN programs.
    • Specialization Opportunities. If your dream is to work in PICU, flight nursing, oncology, or another specialized field, a BSN is a minimum requirement. Here’s a list of the most popular specialized nursing fields.
    • Education Advancement. If you plan on continuing your nursing journey to an MSN or higher, you’re going to need a BSN to start your journey.
    • Requirement. In some facilities, like acute health care providers, a BSN is mandatory even for entry-level positions. So if you want to have the ability to work in any facility without worrying whether an ASN degree will get you the job, a BSN is a good thing to have under your belt.
    • Advancement Opportunities. Nurses with a BSN title are more likely to be selected for management roles, but also continue providing bedside patient care. A common misconception is that BSN nurses only work in administrative positions. While this may be true because most administrative positions require at least a BSN, many RNs providing patient care have a BSN degree and choose to not seek management or administrative roles.  




We hope you found this blog helpful! Nightingale College specializes in nursing education, and we’d love to help you advance your nursing career. Learn more about our ADN, BDN, and RN-to-BSN Programs HERE.


The exciting thing about a career in nursing is that it provides a huge variety of roles and career options, which means that you’ll never get bored working in this rewarding field.

Whether you’re at the start of your career and wondering what you can do with a BSN, or you’re a mid-career professional starting to investigate the different possibilities and jobs for nurses who don’t want to be bedside nurses, this guide will give you all the information you need to find a fulfilling nursing career that suits you.

Read on to find out the most interesting BSN careers that don’t involve patient care and where to look for them, as well as the kind of jobs you can do without a nursing license.

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Nightingale College RN to BSN Program graduate with Nightingale College’s President and CEO, Mikhail Shneyder. (May 6, 2016)

Congratulations on being part of the esteemed profession of nursing! Not everyone can fulfill the duties and responsibilities nurses endure on a daily basis, that test not only their competencies but their emotional stability. As the top trusted profession, nursing yields many rewards and embodies selflessness and compassion, two ideal characteristics each nurse is encouraged to develop.

To solidify a nurse’s career, higher education is needed and preferred by many employers who see the benefits of having BSN-prepared nurses on staff. Although many nurses stop after obtaining an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and passing the national licensure exam (NCLEX-RN), the developments in health care push nurses to go back to school to acquire the skills and knowledge a BSN degree program delivers.

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Staying motivated in nursing school sometimes can be a challenge, especially with those looming exams and strenuous homework assignments seem to keep building up class after class. It is easy to lose motivation during nursing school and fall victim to the nursing school blues. You begin to count down the semesters, maybe even months, to […]

Facts about Nightingale College

What should you know about Nightingale College and its learners besides the fact that the College specializes in nursing education and our learners are on their way to serving their community as nurses? Making the decision to enroll in any nursing school takes considerable thought. Such a decision requires enough research to find the best school that fits your needs. While it may seem that many schools are the same, the smallest differences may be the deciding factor. The main point is to always look at all the options before jumping in with both feet, especially with such a big decision.

To help make your research easier and to show what Nightingale College offers, here is a list of just a few milestones and facts. However, we suggest not just relying on what we say in this article but contact our Admissions Advisors by clicking here to learn more about the College and its nursing education programs.

Nightingale College proudly offers nursing education programs that challenge learners with the latest evidence-based concepts and train learners the necessary skills to treat patients in a variety of environments. One of the most attractive aspects of the nursing profession is career stability and mobility. With over one hundred nursing professions, nurses have the ability to practice in different health fields and the opportunity to advance quickly, if determined to do so.

Up and coming Nightingale College revolutionizes the way nursing education is delivered. Check out seven of our main facts we’d like you to know.

Nightingale College is a full-distance (blended) nursing program. A main advantage to Nightingale College is the ability to deliver nursing education online. Learners have access to a portal that houses their classes, assignments, discussions, and exams. However, not all nursing education can be instructed online. Nursing learners need hands-on training. We help learners receive the necessary training through our on-ground labs, simulations, and clinicals. Our on-ground components allow learners to learn and practice the skills needed when providing patient care. Learners are supervised and instructed by one of our faculty members.

Coming to school and sitting in a lecture hall for a few hours is not the way we do it nor do we think it is the best way to learn. However, attending a program that has any online component entails the learner to be accountable for their success in the program. Skim through our blog to find helpful articles on communicating online and attending class online.

Nightingale College has an RN-to-BSN Program. We know how important nurses are to their communities and the impact they have that surpass the community boundaries. Nurses are able to influence health care. To become a licensed nurse, nursing learners need to graduate from an ADN Program then pass the NCLEX-RN. However, until recently, nurses did not have to pursue higher degrees to remain a nurse. With the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation that 80% of nurses be BSN prepared, health care employers are beginning to see the importance of having BSN-prepared nurses on staff. Currently, many open positions list a BSN Degree as a preferred qualification.

We want our learners and nurses to succeed, so we designed our RN-to-BSN Program to help licensed nurses get their BSN Degree quickly and locally. The Program features full-distance delivery with two projects (Community Health Project and employer-focused Capstone Leadership Project) to help BSN learners advance their knowledge. Nursing is a profession requiring lifelong education. We want to make sure our nurses in the community are educated and providing quality patient care.

As a bonus, our ADN Program alumni receive $50 off per semester credit with the Alumni Tuition Waiver. It is important to prepare for your future as a nurse whether you are still in nursing school, a new nurse, or veteran nurse. Click here to visit our RN-to-BSN Program website.

Nightingale College features accelerated programs. Accelerated may scare some away, but for those who are up for the task, come join the fun at Nightingale College. Our programs are meant to be completed at a quicker pace than other nursing programs. As an option for people pursing nursing as a second career, our program’s method of delivery (see first point) allows learners to continue to work while attending school. We do not recommend working full time but we have seen it done by many learners who were successful. It just takes organization and dedication to sticking to a set routine. Check out our recent article on juggling studying and a full-time job. Click here to read our post.

Nightingale College is accessible to learners in various states that have been approved. Part of our mission is to bring nursing education to rural communities and communities that are struggling with the nursing shortage. Communities do not benefit when residents leave to attend school, often times not returning after graduation because of the available jobs in larger cities. We discovered that residents who are educated locally tend to stay local after graduation. We are dedicated to helping our rural communities provide nurses who are qualified and passionate about serving their neighbors.

To learn the states we have partnerships in, visit our DDC-dedicated page and click on Prospective Learner. Click here to head on over.

Nightingale College trains confident, competent, and compassionate future nurses. In today’s world, it is all about having the confidence to know you are doing right by your patient, the competence to understand the needs of your patient, and the compassion to help them along the way. Our curriculum is grounded in the three C’s of the College. Learners are introduced to the three C’s right when they attend New Learner Orientation. Do you think you have the confidence, competence, and compassion to be a nurse? You’ll need to apply to the school first to know if you are tough enough to be a nurse. Challenge accepted?

Nightingale College uses unique terms. As you have already deduced, we use “learner” in replace of “student.” A student, according to Merriam-Webster, is one who attends school or one who studies. A learner, by definition, describes an individual who gains knowledge or understanding of or skill in by study, instruction, or experience.

Why did we make the switch in terminology? Learners immerse themselves in nursing concepts, become curious to why certain things occur, and ask questions. When these three actions occur, we know the act of learning is effectively transpiring. The challenge to learners embodies full understanding of a concept with internal and external motivation of providing great patient care. Students emulate what they assume the instructor wants to see and receive knowledge to only pass the test and class. The challenge to students incorporates knowing concepts for a brief period of time with internal motivation of passing the class as center focus.

We challenge our learners to gain the knowledge and skills that will mold them into nurses, information cemented in their brain so they ready to better serve their patients. We encourage them to become lifelong learners as health care is an ever-changing and advancing field.

Ultimately, it is better to be a learner of something than a student of something.

Another term that is unique to Nightingale College is the use of “collaborator” instead of “employee.” Just as a heads up if you do come across the term.

Nightingale College has high interest in rural health care. As mentioned above, the current status of health care in our rural communities is worrisome. These communities are being affected to a higher degree by the nursing shortage than their urban counterparts. To advance the discussion, more and more people are retiring in rural areas to escape the busy lifestyle. Population in rural areas grow although the younger population migrate to other locations. Who is there to care for the community when the younger generation chases opportunities outside of the small community?

We want to help residents stay local to serve their family, neighbors, and community. Additionally, we want to help rural health care facilities staff their units with quality nurses who have a means of advancing their education past a CNA, LPN, and ADN level.

Nightingale College Learners (Our Favorite Subject)

Nightingale College offers a fun, education-focused environment designed for learners serious about their nursing future.

Nightingale learners are self-motivated future nurses. Can we boast a minute about our nursing learners? One thing each learner has in common with their fellow cohort is their determination to succeed. With a blended environment, learners need to be motivated and accountable to stay on top of didactic learning and online discussions and assignments. They are responsible for asking the right questions, which can be difficult to learn when first engaging in an online environment.

Nightingale learners are looking to serve their community. Learners supporting our own mission helps us deliver better service to communities. Banded together with the help of our learners, the College is able to work with health care facilities to support local education and local employment.

Nightingale learners are dedicated learners who are ready to serve their communities as nurses upon graduation (and after passing the NCLEX-RN). Enough said.


return to school
What motivates nurses to return to school and why should you? An ADN-qualified, licensed nurse who is working in health care may not see the benefits of returning to school. After all, the nurse is licensed to work. The patient’s overall health is just as dependent on the medication being dispensed as it is on a nurse’s academic progression and level of knowledge.

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Procrastination is a common struggle for learners. Sometimes there is just so much to do that we leave things for the last minute. Here are 5 tips to beat procrastination and help you schedule your day in a way that is productive with no stress.

Plan your day the night before. Having a plan will help you stay on schedule. Knowing what the next day involves can mentally prepare you for the day; not to mention, planning your day the night before gives you some time to prepare for whatever the day entails.

Make your own deadlines. If you have something due, make a deadline to get it done earlier than the assigned due date. Also, break up assignments and tasks into smaller tasks with due dates so you can work on bits and pieces at a time and not leave everything for the last minute.

Do a little morning exercise. Exercising releases endorphins and has been shown to help people be more productive throughout the day.

Make sure you organize your breaks. Try the 10/2/5 hack: 10 minutes of work, 2-minute break, 5 times an hour. Plan what you want to do on your breaks (watch a YouTube video, eat a snack, stretch, read a few pages of a book, check your phone, etc.). It is your time to recharge.

Set up an ideal working environment. Try not to work on the couch or in front of the TV. Set up an office space, go to the library, or go to a place with limited distractions. And although it may be hard, make sure all mobile devices are turned to silent and away from your work space.

If you need more help with procrastination or study skills in general, contact the LALR department. Happy studying!

Understanding your individual learning style makes a significant difference when studying and retaining information. Many learners often gravitate toward one learning style but come to prefer another as they develop their knowledge and skills. There are four types of learning styles: visual, auditory, reading and writing, and kinesthetic. Which type of learner are you? Visit with Learner Advising and Life Resources Department to obtain further resources and suggestions on using your learning style to your benefit.

Download the infographic by clicking here.


As a nursing learner, it is important to focus the new year on selecting goals that will advance your nursing career. Look back and think of the New Year’s resolutions you set for yourself this past year (if you are not part of the thirty-eight percent that does not make resolutions). Were you able to achieve one or all your goals?

A small percentage, eight percent to be exact, accomplish the goals they set. We get it. Picking a goal and having a whole year to achieve it may not possible and sometimes, life intervenes and torpedoes your chances of being in the select eight percent group.

Although, we can provide stellar advice on how to combat life’s roadblocks, one piece of advice that needs to be remembered is to select resolutions that are specific, attainable, and realistic.

One of your goals for 2016 may have been to start nursing school. Congratulations on crushing that goal. Your goal for next year can be to graduate nursing school, pass the state licensure exam, and secure a job as a staff nurse. Another may be continuing your education by returning to school to obtain a BSN degree.

No matter what resolutions you decide to go after in 2017, we encourage you to review our recommended New Year’s resolutions for nursing learners and add the goals to your list. Plus, we are here to help you achieve each goal, so your resolution of accomplishing a New Year’s resolution will happen.

Make sure your resume and cover letter have been proofed. If you haven’t had the time to start getting your resume and cover letter in order, the time is now. Even if you are just starting nursing school, having an updated, current resume and cover letter at the ready are essential.

Clinicals are a great time to start making connections with facilities that are of interest. In case you run across the recruiting manager, a ready-to-go resume and cover letter will come in handy. It is never too early to start networking with other health care professionals and nurses.

Nightingale College’s Learner Advising and Life Resources Department provides resume and cover letter reviews free of charge and will provide you with instrumental feedback to make sure your documents are in top shape and reflect well on you as a nursing candidate.

45 Tips to a Strong Resume

11 Tips to Writing a Memorable Cover Letter

Get a handle on those time management skills. Your time is valuable, so make sure you are using it wisely. As nursing school starts rolling, you will find yourself mid-semester wondering where the time has gone. Understand that not having enough time to review class material will influence how you do in the class and, ultimately, how you feel about the nursing profession. Give yourself the best opportunity to succeed by learning positive time management skills. Set aside time for both your school and personal life, and for some, your work life. Although nursing school is demanding, don’t forget to take the necessary time to unplug from work and school, and just relax.

Improve your study habits. Trash the useless study habits that aren’t beneficial and focus on the studying techniques that work well. Study groups are great avenues if you do well in that type of setting, but be careful that your study group doesn’t turn into social hour. Have a set schedule before your study group meets and do you best to stick with it. If you study better on an individual basis, avoid study groups and other activities that do not work for you.

Learn about your learning style. What type of learner are you: auditory, visual, or experiential? Each person learns differently. Knowing your learning style will help you prepare for classes that are not presented in your preferred learning style. Majority of people have been taught how to work with information presented in all three styles, but now is the time to zero in on what style works best for you and find remedies to help when dealing with the other styles.

Recognize your weaknesses and work to improve them. No one knows you better than you do. Use this knowledge to your advantage and assess the areas that need a little extra attention. Nursing school will be challenging and will test your knowledge, your limits, and your character.

Don’t let it tamper with your weaknesses, use every moment as a way of improving and building yourself up. Seek out assistance and advice for improving your weaknesses.

Seek help right away and be wary of what you hear. An important rule of thumb in nursing school is if you have a question, get help right away. Don’t wait around. Find out the answer to your questions by speaking with your instructor or with the Learner Advising and Life Resources Department (LALR).

It is easy to listen to what members of your cohort are saying; however, you shouldn’t rely on them altogether. Be wary of what you hear through the grapevine and always ask or confirm with the instructor or Nightingale College administration member.

Learning to go to the right source for information will not only help you make it through nursing school but will help you in your nursing career. Imagine how detrimental a situation can be if you, as a nurse, turn to the wrong person or only listen to a specific person regarding an issue instead of taking it upon yourself to acquire about the correct information from the right source. Scary.

Build up a tough exterior. Nursing is a profession that is not for the faint of heart nor the weak. Keep in mind that the health care field is stressful, and part of nursing school is to prepare you for those tough situations.

Get into the habit of building up a tough exterior and working in an environment that is stressful, fast paced, and sometimes be heartless. However, always be proud to be a nurse and join such a prestige network of health care soldiers.

Set up your LinkedIn profile and learn to network. It is time to get with today and understand how important social media is to your career. A popular question is: Why do I need to have a LinkedIn when I can apply by sending in my resume. Although the old-fashioned way is an option—for now, creating and updating a LinkedIn account is simple and easy; it is your online cover letter and resume in one. No longer is the need to search for the correct resume format or dilly-dally over what should be included in your cover letter.

LinkedIn covers every item that should be included in each: summary that can be used as a general cover letter, work experience with the opportunity to provide details for each, education and volunteer experience, and a section dedicated to showing off your skills that have been endorsed by your network.

Additionally, you can have a set of recommendations from instructors and mentors on your profile. LinkedIn makes it easy for you to keep your career materials current and helps potential employers access your information. Employers now will search the applicant’s social media presence and will determine if that person is the best fit for the company by what they see on the profiles pages.

But do not underestimate the power of the traditional resume and cover letter. Having a resume and cover letter ready to go is essential. Some employers may still request applicants apply with a resume.

Develop relationships and start collecting those letters of recommendation. It is never too early to start targeting potential mentors who will be able to write a spectacular recommendation for you. Always remember to ask permission before including someone’s name and contact information as a reference.

Be picky on who you chose and seek out opportunities to build relationships and network with others. LinkedIn is a great place to join specific groups and start developing relationships.

Access Nightingale College’s alumni network on LinkedIn to connect with like-minded nursing professionals.

Prepare for the next step on your nursing journey. Whether you are heading into another semester or facing life after graduation, be prepared to the best of your ability. If you are up against another semester of nursing school, start off strong by reading through the class syllabus and know the clinical schedule.

If you have walked across the stage with your ASN degree in hand, consider continuing your education onto a BSN degree with an RN to BSN Program, as more employers are preferring potential employees to have one. Being prepared is the best thing you can do for yourself and career.

Complete BSN Guide

Being a BSN-Prepared Nurse

Be curious. Did you know that there is a little over one hundred different nursing areas you can specialize in? Often, learners are sold on a field of nursing before starting nursing school. By the time graduation swings by, the learner has changed specialties because of the practices experienced. Be curious.

Explore the various nursing career options available before limiting yourself to one. Passions for a specialty may arise after taking a certain class or talking with an instructor.

The 11th is for you to decide. Each nursing learner is tackling a unique journey, so don’t be deterred by another’s resolutions. However, these are basic items that every nursing learner should consider for the upcoming year. Think hard. What would be your 11th nursing New Year’s resolution?

Learners at Nightingale have one common goal—to graduate from nursing school and become a licensed nurse, which is a big accomplishment. Before jumping to the final goal and possibly underestimating what it takes to complete such an ambitious endeavor, establishing milestones and a set time frame for each milestone have shown to help improve the likelihood of achieving your goal. Breaking your main goal into smaller steps will help you stay on track and more importantly, understand the elements that make up the end goal you have set for yourself.

Don’t forget to download and complete our S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet or to use it as a basis for learning to set the right goal that can be accomplished.

What milestones can learners set that together work towards achieving the final goal?

Making a goal to finish your schoolwork on a specific day, sticking to a specific study schedule, getting a certain score on a test or in a course, practicing something at clinicals, and similar day-to-day activities are milestones that you can set to help progress in the right direction. These day-to-day activities are not only milestones of the grander goal of becoming a licensed nurse, but can be individual goals with milestones of their own.

What is the set time frame that is needed for each milestone?

Make a timeline that starts with today, then a goal for next week, next month, 6 months from now, 1 year, or however long you believe is needed to master a specific milestone. The time frame is unique to each person, so take the time to create one that is exclusive to you, your milestones and goals. One of the greatest ways to set a goal is to remember to be S.M.A.R.T. about it, which is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. Each goal and milestone you set should fit the five categories of S.M.A.R.T. goal setting.

Here are some tips to help you think S.M.A.R.T. about setting your goals.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Be Specific. Goals that are too broad are hard to define and even harder to accomplish because the goal is not specific enough to be reached. Be as detailed as possible. What do you want to achieve? The more details you have, the easier it is to plan and the easier it is to know what you are working towards.

Keep it Measurable. How do you determine success that you have successfully met your goal? Without measurement of some kind, you may doubt whether you have achieved your goal or milestone. Make sure your goals are measurable. The vaguer you set the goals and milestones, the less you will be able to envision them.

Keep it Attainable. Working towards a goal that is not attainable is not a smart route. Take a moment to determine all the elements associated with the goal and whether you have the resources available to complete it. When resources are scarce, visualize another direction to get to the goal or reframe the way you’ve set the goal. A few quick tweaks here and there may do the trick to make your goal and milestones attainable. Remember to not overwhelm yourself, but do try and challenge yourself with your milestones and goals. Challenge brings growth. You want to be able to succeed, so make sure it is a challenge that is attainable.

Be Realistic. Set your goal on what you believe you can do. Much like keeping your goal and milestones attainable, if the goal you have set is not realistic then determine whether it is worth the time and effort that is needed to accomplish it. Several factors that make a goal less realistic are not difficult to determine. Such factors can be current situations in your personal or family life, finances, time, available resources, and so forth. Be realistic with your current situation and honest with yourself. Setting goals that are not realistic will have you looking for ways to jump off the train before even getting started and will deter your determination to achieve the milestones and goal. Focus on what has worked for you in the past and what you are willing to work on and for in the future.

Keep it Timely. A set goal and milestones are rarely accomplished when you do not hold yourself to a specific time schedule. Establishing and keeping the deadlines for your milestones and goals continuously help you stay committed to fulfilling the tasks and goal. It will also give you a sense of accomplishment when you complete a milestone or goal. Even the smallest milestones should be celebrated if you were able to complete it on time. Set a date for your goal and each milestone to be achieved. Make sure you give yourself enough time to complete your goal, but not too much time which can lead to procrastination.

The sweet taste of success and accomplishment accompanies hard work, diligence, and dedication. The strategy of goal setting can be helpful in all aspects of life, not just in nursing school. Discovering what you want to accomplish and creating S.M.A.R.T. milestones to reach the goal will help you continuously improve and grow. Nurses are constantly required to adapt to new changes, and learn new concepts and skills. Determine what goals (and milestones) you want to set for yourself while in nursing school, but don’t forget to look ahead and decide what goals you have for your nursing career. Whatever comes your way, start by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals and milestones—the stepping stones that will help guide you to achieving the goal with less stress and make it a rewarding journey.

Download our S.M.A.R.T. Goals Worksheet and get started on setting your goals (and maybe New Year’s resolutions) by clicking the button below.



This article is an update from the last published article on How to Overcome Test Anxiety in Nursing School, published May 12, 2014.

You’ve been diagnosed with test anxiety. The fear of failure and the dreadful nervousness that builds up as the test day looms are just some of the symptoms you have experienced among others such as the inability to recall important information and complete unconsciousness. Taking a test is stressful and the desire to do well is broken down by the fear and anxiety of not receiving a passing grade. Even before the test, the anxiety you feel conflicts with the retention of information, creating a more challenging task of learning the concepts. Many learners experience test anxiety, so you are not alone. To refuse treatment and allow test anxiety to consume you is detrimental in nursing school and in your career as a nurse.

To help alleviate the symptoms and reduce the effect of test anxiety, it is recommended to seek treatment and follow the steps outlined by the Learner Advising and Life Resources (LALR) department.
  1. Be prepared! This may seem obvious, but the more prepared you are for an exam, the less anxious you will be.  Having good study habits and being organized when studying will help you feel more prepared and build your confidence.  Remember, don’t cram right before a test.  Plan out your study time so when it gets down to the last minute, you don’t have to cram!  For tips on how to effectively study, please contact the LALR department.
  2. Use relaxation techniques.
    1. Deep belly breathing: Close your eyes and breathe deeply into your belly; focus on your breath. Spend a few minutes practicing your deep belly breathing before you study and after. Do the same before and after an exam.
    2. Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This is when you tense your muscles then relax them. Start at your arms, hold for seven seconds, then release. Next do the same with your abdominal muscles, and so on.  This creates a deep relaxation sensation in the muscles.
    3. Visualization: Find your happy place. Close your eyes and think about a place you feel most relaxed.  Think about the details of this place, the smells, what it looks like, how you feel when you are there, etc.
  3. Eat a good meal before your exam. Fruits and vegetables are known to reduce stress.  Stay away from processed foods, red meats, preservatives, and spicy food. Tip: It is also helpful to snack on fruits and veggies while studying and eat those same foods right before your test.
  4. Get a good night sleep. Try to use the relaxation techniques above to clear your mind so you are able to fall asleep.  Try not to think about the exam.  Feeling well rested will help you stay focused on your exam.  If you do not get a good night sleep, don’t worry.  Try to do some relaxation techniques in the morning, go on a walk, or do yoga to help you feel refreshed.
  5. Reward yourself. Using positive reinforcement can be a great way to help with test anxiety so you have something to look forward to after the test.  Plan on treating yourself to a tasty treat or a gift after the exam, if you were able to complete it to the best of your ability without stressing too much.  Even if you do stress and find the test was way too difficult, reward yourself anyway for staying calm and pushing through.  You deserve it for working so hard.
  6. What to do during the test:
    1. Read the directions carefully.
    2. Budget your test-taking time.
    3. Change positions to help you relax and feel more comfortable.
    4. If you go blank, skip the question and move on. You can come back to it later.
    5. If you are taking an essay test and go blank on the whole test, just pick a question and start writing. It may trigger the answer in your mind.
    6. Don’t panic if other learners finish their test before you. There is no reward for finishing first.
  7. What to do after the test:
    1. List what worked for you and hold on to these strategies.
    2. List what did not work so you know what needs improvement.
    3. Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming this obstacle.

It is possible to manage test anxiety. You don’t have to go about it alone.  Studying with other learners and sharing your tips could be extremely helpful and beneficial.  For more information and tips on test anxiety and overcoming test anxiety,  please contact Sam Hanlon with the LALR department at shanlon@nightingale.edu.


As a counselor in Learner Advising and Life Resources, many learners know Sam Hanlon. Part of her main focus at Nightingale College is to help learners in not only the academic environment but to provide support and guidance to positively influence their role as a learner and prospective nurse. Sam currently resides in California with her husband and three-month old daughter, Olive. Although she is a few states away from home base, she represents Nightingale College well on the West Coast  and brings her passion for helping learners to her daily activities.

How long have you been with Nightingale College and what is your position? 
I have been with Nightingale for a little over a year, since June 2015.

Where did you go to school and what is your highest degree? 
I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of California, San Francisco and my master’s degree in School Counseling Psychology with a Pupil Personnel Services Credential (which allows me to work with learners on academic and socio-emotional issues) from the University of San Francisco.

What drove you to apply for the position with Nightingale College? 
My mom drove me to apply for this position. She is a nurse and currently teaches in the doctoral nursing program at the University of San Francisco. I have always looked up to her and have had a passion for nursing and education, but I could never be a nurse. I will pass out if I see a drop of blood! I have always wanted to work in education and Nightingale College allows me to make an impact in the lives of future nurses, without the blood!

How do you help learners at Nightingale College?
I help learners by offering them resources for academic needs and offering support and guidance for any issues they are having. I am here to be an advocate for the learners and help them with whatever they need.

What is your favorite part about your job?
Getting to know the learners and watching them succeed!

What is your favorite part about working in the LALR Department?
I love being able to be an advocate for learners and find and create new resources for them. The LALR department gives me the opportunity to support learners in a variety of different ways based on what the learner needs to be successful.

What departments, if any, do you work closely with?
I work closely with registrar, admissions, and instructors. However, I am here as an advocate for learners so any questions learners have that I cannot answer or that is not part of my department, I can get by reaching out to different faculty because our faculty is awesome that way.

What is your piece of advice to learners struggling to juggle nursing school?
The best piece of advice I can give to learners is have one day a week where they do something they love and not think about school or their problems. When school is getting challenging and you are frustrated, step away for a minute and have a snack, watch a TV show, go for run, do something that you love that will calm you. It is really hard juggling school, work, family, etc, but always remember, in the end, you are going to fulfill such an amazing goal of being a nurse!

Please provide anything else about your position that you would like the learners to know. 
If there are any resources learners need and I don’t have it, I can find it for them. If they are having any issues in school or their personal life that is affecting their school work, they can come talk to me.  If they just need someone to vent to, I’m here. I am here to be their advocate, their supporter, their cheerleader, and their counselor.

What is the strangest talent you have?
I would have to say the one real talent I have is speaking/teaching Hebrew. I teach Hebrew school at my temple and mentor kids for their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. A strange talent I have is that I can change a clock in any car, which comes in handy about twice a year, if that.

If you could travel anywhere, where would your destination be and why?
Definitely Bora Bora because I LOVE the ocean and Bora Bora has bungalows that are literally over the water with glass floors so you can see the fish! You can also jump right into the water from your room and it looks absolutely gorgeous!

What motivates you? 
My family motivates me. I want to show my daughter that women can make a difference and we can do anything we put our minds to. I want to do the best I can every day for her.

What is something you would like to accomplish by the end of the year?
By the end of the year, I hope to expand the LALR department to offer learners even more resources and support.

What are three things on your bucket list?

  1. Go to Bora Bora
  2. Have another child (preferably a boy!)
  3. Buy a house

What or who brings a smile to your face? 
There are 3 people (well, one is an animal) in my life that make me smile. First, is my dog Tchotchke (pronounced chaw-ch-kee, it’s Yiddish for knick-knack). She is a 3-year-old Yorkie Pomeranian, and she is the sweetest, smartest pup ever! Second, is my husband Brian.  He is the love of my life and since I have been with him (we have been together 8 years and married for 2), I haven’t gone a day without smiling.  Last but not least, is my 3-month-old baby girl Olive Marie. I have always wanted to be a mom and I could not be happier with my baby girl. She is my everything. If I am having a bad day, seeing her little toothless smile will always bring a smile to my face!

Share anything else you would like the learners to know about you personally. 
I was born and raised in California and I currently reside in the East Bay.  I am a big TV and movie buff.  Some of my favorite (current) shows are Game of Thrones, anything on Bravo (well, any reality TV really), and Pretty Little Liars. I also love cooking shows, but I hate cooking.  I am a vegetarian (I do eat fish, so technically, I’m a pescetarian) and I have been since I was 10 years old!  One more fun fact is that I collect hands and clowns. I know, weird right? I don’t understand it either.

Sam is Nightingale College’s Counselor, Learner Advising and Life Resources. To get in touch with Sam, email her at shanlon@nightingale.edu.

effective-note-takingNursing school curriculum requires a high-level of dedication to studying course material and reviewing it often. Learning to become a learner who is able to capture strong notes from lectures and reading materials helps prepare you for not only exams needed to pass the course, but for a lifelong career in nursing where continuous education is a must and excellent note taking skills is necessary. To become an effective note taker while attending an online nursing school is intimidating, especially when you are unsure what information is important enough to be deemed “noteworthy.” It requires more than simply putting course material on paper and regurgitating it for the exam. Learners must be able to takes good notes and learn to retain the information and pull from it when needed. Our Learner Advising and Life Resources Department endorses several note taking strategies to develop better skills that can be applied in nursing school.

  • Understand Organization.

    Organization and structure is the foundation for recording effective notes and without the two, there is no flow nor consistency in the notes. Learn how to use a multi-list approach that breaks main sections into smaller and smaller sections based on relevant content.
  • Be Active when Reading.
    Pace is important when focusing on crafting useful notes that is not filled with worthless content. When listening to a lecture and reading book material, practice connecting the ideas and concepts to create a continuous bridge of information that is supported. This strategy encourages you to always look for the right links between concepts, which is shown to improve memory, to help you formulate the connections.
  • Learn Note Taking Methods.
    Every learner uses specific strategies that benefit their personal learning structure. Just as one learner benefits from reading, another learner may understand better by hearing and seeing elements of the lecture. Practice several methods and try combining methods to see what benefits you.
    • Pen-and-Paper Method. There is a reason why the traditional method of using a notebook and pen to record course material is still a popular method. Because it works. It has only adapted to today’s technology of note taking on a computer, tablet, or phone. Taking notes in the margins of your book as you read and listing questions that you have immediately next to the corresponding concept helps you, as the learner, maintain consistency in your notes (not to mention it will be a helpful reminder to remember where your questions stemmed from).
    • Mind Map Method. Often times the traditional method is just too traditional for some learners who will adopt a more creative method of note taking—mind mapping. By connecting concepts through a spider diagram, visual learners are able to grasp the concepts better by simply drawing it out.
    • “Teach It” Method. When reading the lecture notes you captured or reviewing the book material is not enough, try the “teach it” method. Envision yourself as the teacher lecturing on the topic to a class that is unfamiliar with the topic. Record yourself explaining concepts then take some time to listen to it to find out how accurate you are.
    • Other Methods. Note taking depends on the type of learner you are. Auditory learners are able to learn better by recording lectures then listening to it later, not necessarily taking notes. Heard of a photographic memory? Learners who have the ability to easily remember by taking a mental snapshot of lecture notes and reading material are able to sort it mentally and recall it fairly quickly. They only need to study the page once or twice before they categorize it. Any learner can obtain a photographic memory through a mental exercise: 1) picture a place that will become a memory library such as a childhood home or a fictional library, 2) visualize yourself sorting and categorizing information into buckets, and 3) when studying, visualize yourself taking the material to your memory library and sorting it. Part of this exercise is to always return to your memory library and see yourself going through the buckets to retrieve the right information.
  • Learn when to Listen and what is Noteworthy.
    Especially with online education that has recorded lectures in the modules, learners have the ability to return to the recorded lectures if needed. However, it is beneficial to learn how to listen intently to lectures in hopes of not having to return to lectures more than once. As you listen, learn to decipher what is worth noting. Not everything the instructor says is noteworthy and spending time trying to capture everything the instructor focuses on will steal your attention away from what is actually being taught. You may return to your notes and be clueless as to what the lecture was about because of the lack of attention you had on what was being covered.
  • Reflect, Review, and Refer.
    The 3 “R” strategy should not be overlooked and time should be set aside to complete each step. Because of the greater degree of independent study time online students have, it is recommended learners do not go a day without reflecting and reviewing the information from the lecture or reading. Spend time reflecting on the information to create links between concepts to help solidify your understanding of the material then review it. This is the time to think out loud. Talk your way through your notes, focusing on what you remember from the lecture and reading. Finally, refer to the concepts you just learned, which will help you develop the skills needed to summarize course material without plagiarizing straight from the course.

Learning to become an effective note taker takes persistence and time, but it is a skill that will benefit you while in nursing school and throughout your career as a nurse. Take the time now to build up and improve your note taking skills so you can reap the benefits and transition into a lifelong learner. Our Learner Services Department can recommend further note taking strategies for you.

financial aid

Starting college can be intimidating, especially when it comes to discussing personal financial situations and educational funding options. The costs associated with enrolling in college can make some people very nervous, and there is nothing worse than starting school and being stressed about finances.

Nightingale College’s Financial Aid department is here to help in any way possible. Not only is it our job to help, but we love helping you and there is no such thing as a stupid question. So make the most of it when you meet with Financial Aid and keep your ears open and ask a lot of questions. The financial aid process can be daunting and you are receiving so much information all at once, but it is your responsibility to speak up if there is something you don’t understand. We don’t know that you need help to better understand the financial options and requirements unless you tell us.

It’s true that not everyone knows how to budget or how to tackle their finances, but don’t let it worry you or change your focus of getting a degree. There are many, many tools available to help you along the financial aid process, but one of the most important tools is the services that the school provides you, such as the Financial Aid department.

Creating Your In-School Budget

A tool that is provided to all learners is the Imagine America-Financial Planning Made Simple tutorial. Learning how to budget prior to making any official financial commitments is essential; plus, it is a requirement to complete the tutorial before meeting with a Financial Aid Advisor. It is always important to review your current financial situation before engaging in any future financial commitment. The Imagine America tutorial illustrates the “bigger picture” of budgeting and introduces concepts from a different perspective.

Below is a list of websites with tools to assist you with creating an in-school budget:

The publication “Be a Responsible Borrower: Plan Ahead and Graduate with Less Debt,” is an additional resource that breaks down how to be on top of college finances and provides tips on how to decrease the debt left after graduation. https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/responsible-borrower.pdf

Options to Pay for School

Consider the various financial opportunities to fund your education and choose carefully regarding college financing. Please don’t limit yourself to just one possibility. It takes time and energy to look for financial help, so BE PROACTIVE and DETERMINED. Financial aid opportunities are endless. Here are a few financial options that are available to eligible applicants; however, keep in mind that there are more possibilities than those listed below:

  • Federal Student Loans (Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans)
  • Grants (Federal Pell Grants, State Grants, Minority Grants, Student Specific Grants)
  • Scholarships- View Nightingale College’s scholarships
  • Third Party Loans (MACU, personal bank)
  • Savings account
  • Official benefactors
  • Income Tax credits (The American Opportunity Tax Credit, Life Time Learning Credit)

Federal Student Aid

Choosing the route of applying for federal student aid is a great start. So, what can you expect when applying for federal student aid?

  • You will be required to complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • Not everyone is eligible for Federal Pell Grants or Federal Student Loans.
  • You will be required to maintain Satisfactory Academic Requirements (SAP). (SAP is defined in the Nightingale College Catalog)
  • You will need to renew your FAFSA each year that you will be receiving aid.
  • You will be required to complete Loan Counseling and a Master Promissory Note to receive Federal Student Loans. (Please see the Loan Counseling (LC) and Master Promissory Note (MPN) directions that are available on the Nightingale website under Financial Aid)
  • The importance of loan counseling is to help you understand what a direct loanis and how the loan process works. Additionally, loan counseling helps you manage your education expenses and lists your rights and responsibilities as a borrower. (For more information on loan counseling, visit FSA’s website.)
  • The importance of a Master Promissory Note is to ensure your promise in repaying your loans and any accrued interest or fees. It also explains the terms and conditions of your loan. (For more information on Master Promissory Note, visit FSA’s website.)

Questions that You Should be Asking Regarding Your Student Loans

When coming to talk with financial aid, have questions ready to go. Sometimes it is difficult to think of questions on the spot, so it is beneficial to have at least a few questions outlined. Check out some of the questions learners have asked the Financial Aid Department:

  • What type of loan am I receiving?
  • What is the interest rate on my student loan?
  • How is interest calculated?
  • When do I need to start making payments on my student loan?
  • What are my repayment options?
  • Can I make payments while I am in school?

The Financial Aid Department is here to steer you in the right direction. Don’t be deterred by false information that can be found online or is given to you by a friend. When a question arises, stop by and let us get you the right answer.

Visit Nightingale College’s Financial Aid page at https://nightingale.edu/financial-aid/ and the Scholarships page at https://nightingale.edu/financial-aid/scholarships-2/.

Remember to frequently meet with a Financial Aid Advisor to stay current on your individual financial status so you don’t fall behind on payments. Call (801) 689-2160 to make an appointment.

4 Recommended Study Guides

When it comes to studying for the NCLEX-RN, there are never enough resources to try and sometimes, there are too many resources that you may question the quality of some that cross your path. The Learner Advising and Life Resources Department, working closely with Career Services, uncovers optimal study guides that may be the exact material you are looking for and shouldn’t be overlooked. Check out these 4 resources recommended by both LALR and Career Services. And don’t forget to share with us the resources you have found helpful along with your tips and tricks to studying.

Recommended Resources

Dosage Study Guide and Practice Problems, click here.

NCLEX Study Plan, click here.

Appendix A Drug Charts, click here.

Nursing Exam Cram Sheet for the NCLEX-RN, click here.

Attending an online school can be exactly what the doctor ordered when considering the various college opportunities and can be a great option for those with hectic schedules. Surely there are many, many benefits to online learning—flexible schedules, the ability to gain an education from a college that may not have been accessible, and available online resources at the ready. Although enticing, online schooling is a commitment. So what do online schools wish their students knew before even enrolling?

Your first online class will be overwhelming. Learning the online class system can be intimidating and overwhelming, but it is okay. It will take time to learn to maneuver around your student portal. NC TIP: To help you along, set some time aside to become familiar with the online class system’s features and functions before your first class. Additionally, reading your syllabi prior to the first day of class will give you great insight as to what to expect that semester.

 There is little to no face-to-face interaction with instructors. However obvious this may be, many students attending an online college struggle with the idea that there will barely be any visual contact with their instructors. Several students even realize after a few weeks that online learning does not suite their particular learning style, and adapting to communicating through e-mail and online discussions with your cohort and instructor is a built-in feature to online learning that cannot be avoided. NC TIP: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. Online learning is easier when you are actively communicating with instructors as well as those in your cohort.

Every student needs to set a schedule. You are responsible for your education and getting assignments done on time. Time management skills is a necessity to successfully learning in an online format since the class does not meet in person on a routine basis. NC TIP: Designate time each week dedicated to studying and reviewing class materials. If you already have time set aside each week, it can alleviate some of the stress of shuffling tasks around to make room for school.

You will need to find a private, quiet place to study. To get the most out of your class, place yourself in a quiet environment that is conducive to studying. A quiet environment will help you maintain focus on what you are learning. NC TIP: Turn off anything that may be distracting, including your phone, and avoid areas where people gather.

As questions arise, jot them down. Because there is no face-to-face interactions with your instructor, you are not able to ask questions on the spot by raising your hand. When you write a question down, you have it for reference and can reflect back to it at the end of your studying session. NC TIP: As you read through the assignments and lectures, take a moment to write down any questions you have. These questions may be addressed later in the module and if not, can be addressed in a class discussion or by e-mailing the instructor.

You will need to log in to the student portal frequently. All communication will be done through your student portal. To ensure you do not miss important information from the school or your instructor, log on regularly to stay updated. Set times where you can quickly log on to check for updates. NC TIP: It is beneficial to log on to your student portal at least three times a week.

Don’t be timid to ask for help. If you are having trouble with the online learning system or struggle with its features, look for help. Resources are available to you through the school. NC TIP: Before the semester starts, identify certain staff and faculty members and their specific functions for the College (for example, know who can answer questions regarding Brightspace). When a problem arises, you won’t find yourself wondering who to get in touch with.

The next step after graduating nursing school is tackling and passing the NCLEX-RN. It is finally the time to test the concepts and skills studied. As intimidating as the exam can be, determining the correct amount of time between graduating and taking the exam is established on an individual basis. Wait too long and there may be trouble recalling specific details, but taking the exam too quickly may risk a passing score. The best route to venture down is the one that will prepare you to confidently take the NCLEX-RN. As a guide to help you prepare, try these techniques.

Take a stab at practice exams. Taking practice exams can easily relax students who, overtime, become more comfortable with the specific testing strategies used on the NCLEX-RN. Learn to understand fill-in-the-blank questions, multiple choice and multiple response, hot spots, and ordered response question types since these are seen most often on the exam.

The College’s ADN Program Manager Linda Flynn, RN, MSN, recommended the following techniques:

  1. Complete all three phases of the Kaplan review, including
    1. Q trainer questions 1, 2, 3 and then 4 and 5 at 65 percent or higher and questions 6 and 7 at 60 percent or higher
    2. 1000+ Q Bank questions with at least 60 percent of the cores being at a 60 or above
    3. 50 questions a day—at least—of test questions
  2. Review Saunders’ Silvestri NCLEX study books
    1. Review the chapters and complete the chapter review questions
    2. Review the rationales
    3. Analyze why the answer chosen was not as good as the correct answer (presuming an incorrect answer was selected)
    4. Re-word questions to use the information learned from the rationales
  3. Identify what type of learner you are and use the recommended learning devices.
    1. Visual and auditory: listen/watch videos
    2. Kinesthetic: flashcards
    3. Visual: charts, tables, create your own
    4. Practice case studies, visualize the client

Reread topics that cause confusion. Nursing school instructors expect students to know the information and be able to respond quickly in warranted situations. So, spend the needed time reviewing puzzling topics and difficult skills, and don’t underestimate the benefit of speaking with instructors when a question arises. It will pay off.

Make study tools. Whether it is outlining each section, placing post-it notes throughout textbooks, or printing out online notes and quizzes on concepts, go the extra mile to ensure that the best personalized studying techniques and tools are in place, and stop wasting energy on methods that do not help.

Alternate study spots. During an experiment, psychologists found that college students who studied a list of 40 vocabulary words in two different rooms — one windowless and cluttered, the other modern, with a view on a courtyard — did far better on a test than students who studied the words twice, in the same room. Why? Supposedly, the brain makes subtle associations between what it is studying and the background sensations it has at the time. Try alternating study spots between the library, a study room, and a quiet coffee house.

Know where improvement is needed. Areas of improvement need to be recognized and handled prior to taking the exam. Weaknesses are only obstacles that can be overcome with some determination to improve. Jot down the areas that need an upgrade and diligently seek out solutions. Visit Nightingale College’s blog (https://nightingale.edu/blog/) to read topics such as test anxiety and time management.

Utilize Nightingale’s helpful resources. Nightingale College molds its instruction to help prepare students to tackle the NCLEX-RN. The College puts forth a great effort in delivering helpful strategies to its students throughout their time in school. It is important to take advantage of the resources Nightingale has to offer and attend workshops and the Live Review to help further the exam preparation process.

Allow enough time to prepare. Carefully prepare for the NCLEX-RN. It is not meant to be easy and don’t do an injustice by racing to take it quickly without the proper preparation. Take the time that is needed to adequately plan and study for the exam.

But don’t take too much time. Take the time needed to prepare, but don’t postpone the exam. It is advisable to take it within the 30 days after graduation to maximize the opportunity of doing better on the exam.

Become familiar with the exam’s organization. Understanding how the exam works and is organized truly will help on the comfort scale. For example, know to never skip a question on the NCLEX-RN because the exam is graded on the number of correct answers, not on the number of questions that were wrong. Question organization is just as important. Know that with each correct answer, the next will be a bit more difficult and will continue in such a way until a question is answered wrong, which the following question will slightly decrease in difficulty. Being familiar with the exam can alleviate some of the stress that may occur on test day.

Be mindful of the little things. Little things matter when taking an exam such as eating healthy, staying hydrated, being active, getting enough sleep, and always eating a wholesome breakfast the day of the exam. Exercising only twenty minutes a day can improve memory so say YES to cardio.

Don’t study within two days of the exam. Research shows that studying the day before the exam can crowd short-term memory with last minute information that can interfere with long-term memory or bias decision making skills.

Be confident. Confidence can make or break it, so don’t give in to the doubts. Students have accomplished a big journey when they reach the exam. Remember to always look back to see where it all started and it will be the inspiration needed to build up the confidence to take on the NCLEX-RN.

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” –Helen Keller

Good luck!


Ever thought about taking your nursing career to new heights–literally? Mark Larsen, one of our current instructors, presented this week on his experience as a flight nurse and what it takes to become a flight nurse. Check out his presentation below if you were unable to make it.

Download his PowerPoint slides by clicking here.

We would like to thank Mark for taking the time to come share his experience with our learners. Visit with our Career Services department if you are interested in learning more about flight nursing.