Overview: An Online Nursing Degree

With the many advantages of distance education, it is no surprise that online education have been increasingly gaining in popularity. For those in nursing, the option of online education is invaluable.

Usually seeking higher education while employed, the flexibility and self-paced environment of obtaining an online degree is a lot easier to manage for most nurses. In 2015, a survey conducted by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House showed nursing as the second most popular degree being earned online at both an undergraduate and graduate level. Even in traditional degree programs, online components are being added to suit this rising popularity.

However, while there are many pros of an online nursing degree, it is also important to consider the cons. Some degree programs online are not accredited, which could make it a little difficult when seeking employment. Thus, it is important for one to research and confirm the credibility of a nursing program being offered online.

Typical Course of Study

Though it may obvious, but because so many who go into nursing does so much later in life, it is important to note that computer literacy and access to internet is essential prior to starting an online program. It is highly suggested for students to learn basic troubleshooting skills before beginning an online program so that they would be able to deal with any potential technical problems that may arise.

Instructors communicate to students most commonly through a bulletin-like web application called Blackboard. Notes are provided to the students, usually in the form of PowerPoint slides or readings. Sometimes, DVDs or online videos of pre-recorded lectures are also given.

Exams are typically proctored, meaning the exam is taken off-campus and the student taking the exam is supervised by a qualified proctor. Students are responsible for finding the proctor and scheduling when to take the exam with them. Some exams are administered online, thus a fast and reliable internet connection is extremely important. Loss of connection during one’s exam could lead to undesirable results.

Most online nursing programs for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree requires the completion of a clinical experience, or practicum. It is usually referred to as a rotation.This is typically done in a registered and certified teaching hospital under the supervision of a nurse instructor.

Students may be responsible for finding their own rotations and rotation supervisors. During a rotation, students learn clinical skills such as intravenous administration, sterility, and charting. Students also receive hands-on experience in patient-care and communication. Graduate programs such as a master’s and doctorate typically do not include a clinical practicum.

Online nursing program typically include an RN (Registered Nurse) to MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) program or RN to BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) program (for those with an associate’s degree in nursing). Other online programs include emergency medical technician to RN, as well as specialized programs that include certifications in studies like geriatrics or psychiatric practices.

Advantages of an Online Nursing Degree

There are a few clear advantages for pursuing a nursing degree online: flexible hours, less classroom crowding, and lower tuition rates. Self-paced learning is especially important for those who are already registered and practicing nurses, as they are typically employed full-time while studying. This is an incredible advantage for those who want to become promoted to nursing management but do not have the means to quit their jobs and commit to full-time schooling.

Additionally, due to the rising popularity of online nursing programs, many employers view online nursing degrees as equivalent to a degree obtained upon traditional schooling. However, some employers may ask for the accreditation of the degree program.

Choosing an Online Program

Usually, choosing an online nursing program depends on the place in which one would like to work, as required certification may vary. Some common, highly-ranked for-profit programs comes from Kaplan, Benedictine, University of Phoenix, University of Cincinnati, Loyola University of New Orleans, and Chamberlain University. Other programs to consider comes from South University, Western Governors University, and Virginia College Online. As well, the University of Southern California has a unique MA program in Gerontology for nurses.

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