Online Orientation and Guidance Program for Success in a Master of Science in Nursing Program

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Preloading student satisfaction and success factors into an online graduate nursing education program orientation course strengthens the potential for student retention and success. Major components of withdrawal from universities include personal reasons and support system issues. Support system issues often relate to a difference in the students’ anticipatory expectations and the realities of the educational program. Student perspectives on program expectations may be related to their experiences in a face-to-face undergraduate program format and an online graduate program format. Another conflict between student anticipatory expectations and program realities may be related to the level of learning and understanding required of graduate education compared to undergraduate education.

A 100% online graduate nursing orientation and guidance program was developed to orient newly admitted students to the expectations of graduate nursing study, the requirements of this specific MSN program, and how to use the learning management system (Desire2Learn). Students were taught the basic structure of courses (including discussions, quizzes, and dropbox assignments). Access to peer support, faculty advisor, and university resources were provided within the course using the same architecture as the program courses. Students were encouraged to introduce themselves to other students. Opportunities were provided for more experienced students to share experiences and bits of wisdom gained from their studies. New students were encouraged to ask questions of fellow students and their advisor and to establish study groups. Ongoing discussion boards were provided for continuous student interaction and peer support throughout their time in the program.

Students gained a realistic perception of the program, online graduate study expectations, and helped them to form a realistic understanding of the need to maintain a work-school-life balance. Students reported decreased anxiety and increased comfort with graduate online education, increased self confidence, and feelings of support, which prepared them for success.


Indianapolis, IN

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