Attending online nursing school can be far more convenient than attending a bricks and mortar institution. Not that we are knocking the in-person experience. Either approach to can be a great way to advance your employment prospects and opportunities. If you are a nursing student with a between-semester break, you may wish to consider what more you could be doing to advance your nursing career.
Prepare for the NCLEX
It is never too soon to study for and prepare to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Even if you are a first or second-year nursing student, it will pay to prepare for the all-important NCLEX as you go through school. Studying during your precious free time may not be the most appealing task, but it will pay dividends in the long run. Slow and steady wins the RN licensure race, and this is one way to pace yourself. Later, when classes are back in session, you may be too busy to study for the NCLEX.
Consider a Nurse Internship
Internships can be a great way to combine two objectives that are near and dear to your heart: making some money, and advancing your skills and knowledge as a nurse. Summer break may signal total relaxation time to some students, but not everyone can afford to be idle for long. A nursing internship, sometimes referred to as a nursing student externship, can also be a great way to explore nursing specialties you might be interested in, but which you may not necessarily have encountered yet.
Landing a coveted internship position will necessarily involve interviewing; another plus for you. Even if you fail to land a slot, you will have benefitted from the experience of preparing your resume and honing your interviewing skills.
Some nursing schools actually give credit for summer internships. Even better, if you intern in a specialty that eventually appeals to you, your time spent as an intern can serve as a sort of extended job interview. Once you complete your degree, and pass the NCLEX-RN, the employer you already worked with may be inclined to offer you a job immediately, having already become familiar with you, your work habits, and your attitude.
Many programs require you to have already completed at least one clinical rotation. For those who qualify for internships, the entire experience can serve as a sort of extended hands-on rotation in a given area of specialization.
Working in a hospital or clinic as an intern also provides you with some excellent inside-track opportunities to network with professionals who may be in a position to benefit you or your career in the long run. Even if you do not land an internship, consider other ways to expand your network of professional contacts. The more the better, especially if you have made a good impression as you have gone along. Consider joining a nursing association to further develop your contacts in the industry.
Investigate Prospective Employers
Taking a little time off to relax in between nursing school semesters certainly makes sense. But that does not mean you need to lose ground. If you are really focused on advancing your career, take the initiative and begin investigating potential employers in your town or city, now. Track their job openings, take note of any special requirements they are seeking to fill those positions, and perhaps adjust your future learning and/or certification goals to align with what employers are routinely seeking.