So we have just started our third semester, it’s hard to believe we’re already two-thirds through the program! We can already tell this will be a busy semester, another 5-course load plus our upcoming acute psychiatry clinical practice, but working together we will definitely get through it. This wasn’t my first kick at completing an online program, but my previous one was through the Investment Funds Institute of Canada and was only a month or so long. Now that I was facing 23 months of online school, I was feeling overwhelmed.
However, at orientation weekend, we met our tech support team who would be there for us if we needed them, or if something went wrong. We all know with technology, glitches can happen, between our instructors and tech support, minor hiccups have been handled very quickly. Instructors, while not in front of us, are extremely quick to respond to emails and course questions. Within a course question forum, questions are encouraged to be asked in an open environment as others may be having the same problem or concern, and that way everyone gets to see. For more personal questions, emails are always accepted.
For anyone who is concerned about scheduling and figuring out how much work they need to complete on a daily/weekly basis in order to complete the program, it really is an online classroom, topics and readings are laid out on a week by week basis, to guide us through where we should be. From there you just pick the time that best suites when you can study. What helps me on a weekly basis is that I have made it my personal goal to have my initial discussion points posted in the class forum by Tuesday evening. For the rest of the week I continue to absorb my readings and do follow up research, and respond to peer discussions and do any quizzes. This also gives me the weekend as a breather and spend time with my wife and daughter. The work hard play hard mantra can be true here. It is important to make sure you have adequate time for self-care, as that is so important it is also a component for practice from the College of Registered Psychiatric Nurses of BC, in order to prevent compassion fatigue and burnout.
As we are now into our third semester, another important piece of support that we have been utilizing is leaning on each other. Through various group projects, and our clinical group from semester two, we have developed quite the personal support base for each other, discussing topics offline, bouncing questions and ideas off each other, and pushing each other to do more and better. The fact is, online learning environments can be lonesome, hours in front of a book or computer with little interaction. However, forming little study groups and group message sites with mobile apps such as WhatsApp allows us to stay connected and make our online world a little more cohesive. It’s important to keep in mind that once we graduate, these are people that we could be working with, so it’s important to help one another grow both individually and as a professional, in order to support each other once we hit the ground running.