I am frequently asked how I was able to complete the WGU so quickly and whether I have any advice for upcoming students. I can tell you exactly what I did to study and finish however keep in mind that this is what worked for me during my enrollment. You may study differently, your courses may be different, etc.
Below are my tips along with my insight into EACH course that I completed (I left a couple out that were missing pre-req’s like speech but the general courses are here)
COURSE BY COURSE TIPS
These tips pertain to the courses that I took during my time in the RN to BSN program in 2013, they may not be applicable to the current course content. Double check any info with your student or course mentors.
This should be no issue for anyone with prior medical experience. If it’s been a while since you studied or Nclex’d be sure to brush up on your typical assessment stuff. I personally went through the chapters in the Course of Study and took the practice exams at the end of each which helped. This is going to be pretty typical black and white knowledge along with the application of “critical thinking” just like a good old NCLEX. As for your video, many people (including myself) put off the video part because, well it’s weird to video tape yourself for someone to analyze… awkward. Take it from me, it isn’t hard at all, just get it overwith! My best advice, print off the list of things you’re supposed to do in your video and put it in a binder to use WHILE your taping yourself. I literally checked off each thing as I did it to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I brushed up on assessment techniques via good old YouTube (since there are some interesting ones to cover that you don’t normally do… hello jugular vein distention measurement???) and then did it.
Care of the Older Adult:
Again basic knowledge of elder care here, this will closely mimic your gerontology nursing class from back in the day. BUT, this is the one OA that I failed!! I was shocked. A little tidbit, outside of your general elderly medicine, variables, assessments, etc make sure you READ IN DEPTH on the dang Medicare and insurance crap… for some reason my assessment was about 70% Medicare questions (and I KNOW my insurance stuff, so this was excessive). Otherwise hope your version of the test isn’t so pigeonholed into this arena. This is supposed to be one of the easiest and most remedial of all of the BSN courses.
Community & Population Health:
If you’re planning to finish your BSN in a single term, better get this one going immediately. You cannot log practicum hours for your final practicum until this course is done. This one was my first PA course. It consisted of 4 “tasks” ie. 4 papers of various requirements. I did what was recommended and that was to finish the tasks in backwards order, so task 4 then task 3, saving task 1 for the end. Reasoning was that task 1 is pretty intense and long and it helped to get a few other writing tasks under your belt before jumping into that one. You get to see how the whole grading thing and Taskstream work along with getting used to the rubrics. The long paper is ultimately a set up of your final practicum, you research your specific community and look for deficits and things that you can essentially work to research more for the final practicum where you log all of your hours.
Some people struggle with this one, not sure if that is because of the newer version of stats or just different learning styles. I thought Stats was not too bad. I read through the community advice to focus on Chapters 1-4 knowing them like the back of my hand. I read the chapters, took each quiz at the end and re-read areas that I missed on the quizzes. Lastly, I printed the course study guide (probably housed in the “course chatter box” now) which was compiled by the course mentors and made sure I knew all 100 of those questions very well. In my opinion the OA was identical to this practice study guide.
I don’t have the best advice for the nutrition OA simply because I know nutrition very well. I had 3 nutrition courses in my undergrad prior to this one and it’s a lifestyle thing I’ve always been educated in. So that said, this was a very easy exam, basic principles of what to eat for certain populations ie. pregnancy, wound healing, etc. Which foods are high in specific nutrients, that kind of thing. A patient post op with renal complications should eat which choice of meal, etc. One area I remember being a little trickier was the vitamins and minerals, I had quite a bit of content on this which seemed a tad unbalanced, worth brushing up on.
I was a huge fan of Biochem! Some people hate it but I thought it was a welcome relief from multiple choice tests and paper writing. I mean how can you go wrong when your homework consists of making chemical models out of legos or candy… or k-cups ha! You don’t need some fancy molecule kit for this one, using items around the house is perfectly fine as the course mentors will tell you. The subjects are quite complex that you are learning here, very detailed… especially DNA transcription and translation. In my opinion I had to actually pay attention to the content and videos to truly understand what I was doing and it was fine. It’s mostly YouTube videos put on by the mentors that are easy to follow and the Thinkwell Guy. I LOVE the Thinkwell Guy, he’s like an older version of Bill Nye the Science Guy talking about way more boring things but he makes it slightly entertaining 🙂 Enjoy biochem, it’s the only course in the whole shabang that is set up like this.
Professional Roles & Values:
This one is very blah. A good one to get over with, it’s not hard it’s just very boring. The whole course is essentially about nursing theories, how to decipher them, ethics, professional accountability, playing the role of a scientist, detective, and manager, ugh… You will end up writing about various aspects of this in your portfolio but no need to over-do this one, just study what you need and get done with it.
Info Management & Technology:
The exam for this one was pretty challenging I thought. I figured it would be a general application of how technology systems integrate into medicine, it was NOT. This was a very detailed exam asking you to know the differences between certain technology systems, how to troubleshoot them, how they apply to different facility uses,etc. Lots of informatics specifics, electronic record ins/outs, HIPPA regs, etc. I did much better on the pre-assessment than the actual OA for what it’s worth, the only course this happened.
Evidence Based Practice aka The Beast:
This one sucks, it really just sucks. The only thing worse is having to do it AGAIN (for the most part) in the MSN program… dreadful. There are a couple of tasks for this one. First you learn about types of research and write a paper about that while you classify a few examples into the type of research the represent. Then you take some case studies and write about them. And then you’re ready for the BEAST. For the last task, you are picking a problem to research, compiling this research into an annotated bibliography, summarizing your findings, discussing how this can relate to your current place of work, how you’d present it to the big wigs there, etc. That’s the simple version. The extended version is that it is LONG, monotonous, repetitive, and annoying. My best advice for this one is to do it all in one or two sittings. Find your research during one and write the ENTIRE thing during the next, don’t stop and start this one or you’ll never finish. Pick a topic that is SIMPLE, use the examples you find in course notes or message boards. DON’T try to reinvent the wheel or impress your graders by finding some fabulous specific NEW idea that is actually interesting to you, they won’t care. You won’t find your articles, you’ll want to punch yourself later for doing this. Stick to the tried and true- handwashing, CAUTI, actually just those 2, pick one of those and you’ll do fine.
Organizational Systems & Leadership:
This one will sneak up on you. You read the rubric and think it’s not too terrible, 2 tasks. The main drudgery with this one are the IHI Modules. No idea how to explain those to anyone who hasn’t read through a couple so I won’t bother. Just remember this, log in, start the modules and skip to the tests. Don’t sit there through all of them intently or you’ll be there for 57 weeks. Seriously they are awful and there aren’t any shortcuts other than skipping to the tests, taking them, if you fail skip back to the end again and take it again until you pass. You can’t finish the BSN without doing these dang modules, you’ll need your IHI completion certificate for your portfolio. Your big paper consists of completing a LONG root cause analysis with all the components…. not my cup of tea. You’ll be glad when this one is done.
Leadership is the whole point of the BSN as most BSN-RN’s are more in management and they have to “lead” people. The paper here consists of an investigation into a specific problem at your workplace that you intend to research and propose a fix for. Your fix will explain a lot of things including a cost scenario and you’ll present this whole thing for your “key stakeholders” at work. You’ll need them to sign off on your presentation. It isn’t a bad task but it can be a bit tricky to coordinate this “presentation”. Again pick a simple solvable problem, you don’t need to show them how to travel to the moon just pick something common and relevant- staffing shortages, technology deficits, etc.
I thought this one was odd, almost like putting together a resume for your school experience, a lot of kumbayah this is what I learned, this is how I grew as a professional… weird. Nonetheless, super simple task. You’re basically reviewing a lot of your coursework, including excerpts from some of them and writing a synopsis of their relevance to your career.
Community Health Practicum:
The dreaded practicum. You are now at the end and revisiting that very first community health project you did. You’ll take the problem topic you chose and now spend a bunch of hours out in the community investigating it so you can write about it in depth. I had 90 hours to do and I did this whole course in about 2-3 weeks time. I spent about one full week making site visits around everywhere I could possibly think of to log time, each day about 6-8 hours of traveling around and then about 1 full week to write the whole thing. A bit of fudge factor in between. If you start early getting on everyone’s calendars for meetings this won’t be too hard to do in a short amount of time,otherwise better plan on 4-6 weeks of consistent work on this one, especially if you can’t devote a block of time for a week to knock out those hours. I specifically picked access to mental health resources and found a TON of resources, had no trouble getting my info or hours. There are a list of topics to choose from, as I’ve said a dozen times don’t reinvent the wheel, pick one and go. Don’t overcomplicate it. As soon as you’re done with Community Health 1 jump on these hours and start looking ahead.
That’s the long and short of it…. those courses can seem to be quite overwhelming but they’re doable. Get a schedule together with a goal of completion for each one. Allow time for grading and revisions… taskstream graders aren’t exactly the quickest, my longest paper took nearly 7 full days to post! Always keep about 3 courses in your field of vision if you’re planning to accelerate so you can work on them somewhat simultaneously but pick one at a time to finish, then go to the next. One day you’ll turn around and your circle will be completely BLUE! YAY.
My tips and insight for the BSN to MSN program are over here.