NurseClickNurseClick - Should you continue studying straight after completing a bachelor’s degree?

By Lucy Osborn MACN (ENL)

This column, The Scrubs that Fit, is all about the highs and lows of being a junior nurse, from the perspective of an ACN Emerging Nurse Leader. The aim of these blog posts is to help ease the transition from university to grad years and beyond. Find Lucy on ACN’s neo and on Instagram @aussie_nurses.

Finding the right time to begin further study after finishing a bachelor’s degree is a tough choice. Not all nursing pathways are the same and seeking advice from colleagues and friends at work or university can result in mixed responses. My advice to anyone who is considering doing further study the year after finishing their bachelor’s is do what is right for you. Some say that going directly into your honours program is not a good idea and that you should concentrate on consolidating your clinical knowledge and skills during your graduate year first. However, I also have friends of mine who have thrived by going straight into honours, so the choice is totally up to you!

Personally, I chose to partake in a graduate program and become an ACN Emerging Nurse Leader (ENL) after finishing my bachelor’s degree. The ENL cohort inspired me to keep pushing myself in areas I perhaps wouldn’t have considered previously, but sometimes I find myself wanting to start formal learning pathways early such as an honours degree. However, I always remember to self-reflect and reassure myself the pathway I have chosen, which I describe in a previous article in this column, is the one that suits me best.

Only you can decide when you are ready to restart formal learning. Some people are highly functional and can successfully balance large amounts of work and study whilst others prefer to have a little more down time.

If undertaking further study straight after graduation is an option you are exploring, here are four useful tips to help you reach the right decision:

  1. Seek the opinion of close friends and family — nurses and non-nurses — on the study options you have looked into. They can provide a fresh perspective on your strengths and limitations. My mum and housemate know mine probably better than I do!
  2. If you can’t decide, take it as a sign and give yourself a well-earned break. You can always pick up education at a later point.
  3. If you have decided to pursue further study, pay close attention to census dates and defer if you need too. You can always defer at the beginning of a semester or even finish one subject and defer the rest.
  4. Look at your different studying options, there are more than just honours out there waiting for you. ACN offers short courses, CPD and graduate certificates. Many universities and hospitals also offer extension courses.

To conclude, I would like to again emphasise that only you can decide when the time is right to continue your studies. If studying is your passion, then don’t let people tell you it’s too soon and keep on going. But it also totally okay to focus on gaining practical work experience first. The most important thing is that it is your decision. I am the type of person who does like to move through things quickly, but I’m not planning to do an honours or a PhD anytime soon and am happy with the path I chosen. Personalise your nursing journey any way you like, but make sure you enjoy it!

1 Comment

  1. My advice to nurses whom have just finished their Bachelor’s degree would be to get your skillset up first. If you find something that you’re passionate about – or really feel you can thrive in – then follow that path.
    The great thing about nursing is that it can lead us in so many different directions and our skills are greatly sought after in so many different fields, whether they be clinical, commercial or research-based (or a combination of those).

    Do what you love, and if your next challenge is to change your area of expertise – CHASE IT!
    Nursing can be as individual as each person – and/or as collaborate as those we work with. It’s about doing what we love, with those we care about most! Our clients, our colleagues, families – and remembering our self-worth!

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