Are you an aspiring nurse or a full-time registered nurse who wants to take on new responsibilities and improve your outcomes? If you feel like going back to school for a traditional course would take too much of your time, perhaps you should consider an online nursing program.
Nowadays, many nursing colleges include online courses or distance learning components in their curriculum, which aim to support nurses in completing their education without missing out on valuable clinical hours.
If you want to earn your BSN degree and still be able to work full-time in the hospital, consider an RN-to-BSN online (bridge) program. Having doubts? We’re here to clear the air and tell you everything you need to know about online nursing programs.
Why Choose an Online Nursing Program?
According to a study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected growth rate of the demand for nursing jobs is as high as 16 percent for 2014-2024. As a response to this growing need, many educational institutions have developed online courses, which give you the same level of competence as attending a traditional brick-and-mortar learning facility.
Most online courses require you to be physically present only for a limited amount of time. This is usually during clinical hours, which are vital to ensuring you get the hands-on experience needed for a nursing job.
This can be especially useful if you’re juggling a full-time job and/or motherhood, for example, alongside your course. What’s more, employers value the discipline you demonstrate by taking up multiple commitments and in most cases, this is a great advantage to have.
What you get out of an online nursing program really depends on your needs and objectives. If you’re not familiar with online education, it can seem confusing and that’s why we’re here to help you understand. Let’s have a look at the main reasons why registered nurses choose online nursing programs and the skills they can bring to your table.
You can log on to your course anytime, from any location, even if it’s evening, lunch break or weekend. Regardless of where you live, you will be able to find a school that caters to your area. This makes nursing education accessible to more people than ever before.
When you take up an online nursing program, you are free to organize your own learning around other fixed commitments you may have. This way, you’ll be able to continue your daily hospital work as well as look after your family life and social commitments. The ability to study remotely makes it easier to obtain a nursing qualification.
The use of computer technology plays a huge part in online nursing programs and will equip you with valuable skills that you can apply later on. The ability to use computers effectively is also looked upon favorably by employers, giving you an edge compared to other candidates.
Online nursing degrees don’t provide clinical preceptors, which means you have to research and find the perfect clinical site for your skills and needs. This means that you will improve your research and persuasion skills and become better at networking with other nursing staff in the long run.
Even if the kind of independence offered by an online nursing degree doesn’t work for everyone, most people are grateful for the freedom provided by an online program. Taking an online program also shows dedication, self-discipline, and a desire to work and improve, which are transferable skills employers look for.
Which Online Nursing Program Can You Sign up For?
There’s been a nursing shortage for quite some time now in the U.S, which makes the need for qualified, highly skilled nurses greater than ever. Earning your nursing degree online gives you the opportunity to meet this need and also advance your professional nursing career.
These are the most common nursing programs you can take to move up in your career:
Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
If you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another discipline and want to change careers, then an online bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) can be very useful to you. It’s usually the fastest route to becoming a BSN nurse and it can open a lot of doors.
Online Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN)
There are also some online nursing master’s degrees open to learners who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and these types of programs are particularly suitable for people who do not wish to repeat the formal degree setting.
RN-to-BSN Online Degree
Most online nursing programs are geared towards nurses who have obtained a license after passing the NCLEX-RN exam and have either graduated with a Nursing Diploma or an Associate Degree in Nursing. Initial training has a better outcome if completed in person, as it helps students build a deep foundation with their future patients and have a better understanding of clinical experience. If you’re one of them, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program, which is an accelerated BSN program.
Who can take an online nursing program?
- Registered nurses with Diploma in Nursing or ADN who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam
- People who hold a Bachelor’s in a different field
- Nurses who want to advance their careers, earn more money and have a greater impact in the nursing field
Are Online Nursing Programs Better?
Flexibility is an important decision factor for people who choose an online nursing degree. Online nursing programs tend to be better for registered nurses, as RNs now have the possibility to prepare for management and administrative roles from the comfort of their homes by taking an RN-to-BSN online program.
Since the numbers show that the health care system could use some highly prepared nurses to ease up the shortage, you should seize the opportunity and prepare to meet the needs of a more competitive market. Nowadays, it’s a matter of how much time you want to spend earning your nursing degree. Given that a BSN will allow you to advance to management-level positions (which also entail a higher pay), an online RN-to-BSN program will come in handy.
How Do Online Nursing Programs Work?
The main difference between online courses and traditional ones is that the former are hosted on a website and you will interact with your lecturers and fellow learners through an online portal. This is the place where professors give their lectures, assignments, and comments for students to access and review.
Here is what you should know about online schooling before enrolling:
- All online nursing programs have an online class system which you have to get familiar with. It can take a little time to learn how to use it, but it really depends on each and every one of you.
TIP: Give yourself some time before the first class to learn the online system’s functions and features.
- You will use the learner portal, the place where the magic happens. Make sure you check it often for updates about your lectures and news from your instructor.
- Take your time to review the syllabus. This will help you understand the class format, the requirements and also the expectations you have to meet.
- There will be little face-to-face interaction. So you should consider this aspect before enrolling and figure out if the lack of visual contact bothers you or it’s just the learning style you need.
- Communication is important and since you are in an online environment, immediate access to an instructor may be delayed. After all, you are not in a physical classroom and won’t have the ability to raise your hand and ask your instructor. Write down all the questions that might arise while studying and address them later in class or simply email the instructor.
- You’re responsible for how you choose to manage your time, place of study and schedule. One problem online learners face is procrastination, so now is a great time to work on your planning and organization skills.
- Traditional exams are usually substituted by written work, in which you have to demonstrate how well you understood the provided materials. But don’t get too excited yet. Exams are mandatory in many classes and may need to be taken at an approved testing center.
Are Online Nursing Programs Hard?
Don’t get fooled by the idea that online courses are easier, thinking you can trick the system and get your degree even if you don’t study that hard. It’s not the case here.
Truth be told, online nursing courses can even turn out to be harder if you’re not used to planning your own schedule and managing your time efficiently. You will have homework, required reading, deadlines, projects and face the same expectations you’d have to meet in a traditional class.
Keep in mind that online nursing programs have required clinical hours which you have to pass in order to get your degree. That’s your chance to you put into practice all the things you learned online and also a turning point in your online nursing degree.
Are Online Nursing Programs Accredited?
There are many high-quality online nursing degrees available for a range specialties and degree levels, from associate to doctoral degrees. Before enrollment, make sure that the online degree you choose is offered by a reputable institution.
Although many are, there is no guarantee that all online degrees are accredited. Therefore, do your research and check if your online nursing program is accredited by a national association – either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Since the accreditation procedure follows the same standards to review and qualify all academic institutions, you can be sure that, in terms of the quality of education, online and offline programs will offer you the same level of preparation.
Online Nursing Curriculum: Prerequisites and Clinicals
If you’re thinking of pursuing an online nursing program, you should know they cover the same topics as the campus-based courses. The same goes for the online nursing course prerequisites and requirements.
You will learn nursing fundamentals, theories, and health care ethics as well as management-related disciplines. The curriculum also includes post-licensure coursework that focuses on community nursing, leadership, policy, ethics, critical care, gerontology, health promotion, disease prevention, and informatics among other key nursing concepts.
Nightingale has an RN-to-BSN program that has 9 nursing courses with online didactic instruction delivered over 12 months.
Online Nursing Clinicals
Depending on the program and college, you have to take part in clinicals and even spend some (limited) time on campus, for certain exams. Clinicals are part of your training in an online nursing program, giving you the opportunity to acquire essential hands-on experience from a medical facility.
You should perceive clinicals as intense working sessions where you learn to tackle real-life responsibilities in the workplace. It will help you gain experience in the field and ensure that you are ready to work in a health care facility.
Unlike other online nursing programs that require most learners to make the clinical arrangements themselves, the clinical hours in the BSN and RN-to-BSN programs required by Nightingale are dedicated to the Community Health and Capstone Projects. Both of these can be completed in the learner’s own community and local facilities.
See all the courses that Nightingale offers via online didactic instruction here.
How much is an RN-to-BSN online program?
Since there is no classroom where the lecture is held, learners don’t pay electricity fees and other classroom costs. All the resources are updated online and uploaded on the learner portal, where you can log in and out whenever you want. Thus, online nursing programs are more cost-friendly and this is another reason many people choose to go online and get the best of their nursing careers.
Nightingale has a cost-friendly RN-to-BSN program, where you can take online nursing classes and pursue quality clinical hours for $375 per semester credit. Tuition does not include the nonrefundable application fee of $100 which includes all required digital textbooks. Our ADN program graduates receive an exclusive Alumni Tuition Waiver that deducts $50 off each semester credit.
Nursing education is truly demanding and requires rigor and commitment, as well as a willingness from both learners and teachers to embrace modern technology at an academic level.
With an online nursing degree, you can prepare for a successful career in nursing and meet the needs of a growing U.S. population that is continually dealing with a nursing shortage.
Take the RN-to-BSN program and prepare to move fast between the ranks, have more responsibilities, and earn more.