Everyday technology is expanding and it’s getting easier to complete things online. We can shop online, order groceries, read books, watch movies, order medications, find answers to any question and now, even get a degree. But, can you get an Associate Degree in Nursing completely online? The answer is: No, not entirely. While there are many quality nursing programs available that offer online classes, in order to become an RN, there are required health care experiential learning requirements in any quality program that require learners to complete on-ground in a medical facility.

Why nursing requires on-ground coursework

Why is on-ground coursework a necessity for nursing programs? While there are some classes that can be offered online, there are also many skills that can only be learned by caring for patients through hands-on experience. While online courses can deliver the concepts of nursing, they are lacking the sights, sounds, and the immersive experience of being in a hospital or other health care facility. The skills practice and people skills that are developed in that setting are a critical part of nursing.

Why you want a quality education

While there may be obscure, unaccredited colleges that offer a nursing degree fully online without a clinical rotation, or hands-on experience, these are not quality programs. Just ask yourself, do you really want to be a nurse without ever being truly taught how to start an IV?

Nursing.org states “You generally will not need to complete a clinical rotation, but in order to work as a nurse in any capacity, you must pass the NCLEX-RN exam once you finish your program.

Quality programs will afford you the experiences you need to pass the NCLEX. These programs have experiential learning requirements, like caring for patients or learning skills like IVs and catheters, as part of the nursing curriculum. As Nursing.org stated, some nursing programs allow you to sit for the NCLEX without this experience, but in our opinion, nothing can substitute for the diverse experiences you encounter when on rotations through different facilities with a nursing instructor guiding you through new encounters.

Why some classes can be offered online

There are some classes in nursing programs that can be offered online. In Nightingale College’s ADN Program, those are classes like English Composition, Western Civilization, Intermediate Algebra, Intro to Psychology, Human Anatomy, Intro to Statistics, Pathophysiology, Intro to Nutrition and others. These are general education classes. Are there any nursing classes online? Yes. These include classes like Pharmacology, Advanced Issues in Cognition, and Gerontological Nursing. These classes have no hands-on skills associated with them, so offering them online doesn’t reduce the quality of learning.

Why some classes must be offered on-ground

Some courses must be offered on-ground to develop clinical reasoning skills. Some of the classes that must be offered on-ground in Nightingale College’s BDN Program are Concepts of Nursing in Acute Care, Entry into Professional Nursing Practice, and Concepts of Nursing – Health Promotion. These classes are on-ground so that learners can interact with patients in health care facilities and start to learn the skills they will need to be confident, competent, and compassionate nurses.

Why some employers don’t accept degrees from 100 percent online nursing programs

Please be advised that if you do decide to complete a program that has no on-ground requirements, or that is not accredited, you may have a difficult time passing the NCLEX, and job opportunities may be less readily available to you. Like in any field, health care employers want to hire individuals who are experienced in their fields. These on-ground classes in the nursing curriculum can count for some of that experience, and some of these classes can even be held in health care facilities. What better way to prove to an employer that you are a good employee than doing rotations in their facility for a few months – proving yourself a hard worker as part of your learning.

Remember: Many employers will refuse to recognize degrees from colleges that aren’t accredited. If you’re thinking of attending an unaccredited program with no on-ground requirements, think about what options may or may not be available to you after graduation.

Why you shouldn’t sacrifice the wrong thing

We highly advise that learners who need the flexibility of an online program choose a hybrid program, and not a fully online alternative. We urge all learners make sure the school they choose is a program of quality, and accredited. If you don’t have the time in your life right now to complete at least a few on-ground courses, take some time to prioritize, and see what else in your life can wait. Don’t let an inadequate program jeopardize your chances at a successful career.

If you have the dream to become a nurse, but don’t know where to start, feel free to call our admissions office at 801-689-2160, set up a Discover Interview with Admissions, or visit our website.