E-learning has accomplished significant milestones, growing in popularity, especially after the pandemic. Students from a diverse range of disciplines have managed to further their careers thanks to e-learning.
The medical profession remains no exception. While the pandemic disrupted the traditional academic system, the demand for nurses across the country rose exponentially. Therefore, the need for nursing programs to be available online became pertinent. Today, a large number of institutes offer online nursing courses ranging from Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs to certification programs in nurse specialties.
Why should you choose an online nursing degree?
Pursuing an online nursing program can be advantageous, especially for working professionals who are looking to upskill. Licensed nurses with erratic work schedules can significantly benefit from online nursing programs. It is also convenient for people from non-nursing backgrounds trying to switch to a nursing career.
Online degrees offer a lot of perks that offline ones cannot:
- Flexibility– This is admittedly the greatest perk of an online degree. An online degree gives you the freedom to attend classes, lectures, or interactive seminars according to your own schedule from anywhere with a working internet connection. The freedom to arrange your education goals around more pressing commitments like your day job also ensures a healthier work-life balance.
- Accessibility– Online nursing programs often have better outreach as there are no geographical barriers. It can also help individuals who do not have any relevant institutions near them and don’t have the option of moving to a different place either.
- Learning at your own pace– Online programs also give you the freedom to study according to your own pace. You can give yourself additional time if you need to understand topics you have difficulty in.
- Time-saving– Online courses can save a lot of time and energy that is spent on commuting as well.
- Cost-effective– A lot of online nursing degrees can be comparatively cheaper than offline ones. There are numerous costs that are charged in addition to tuition fees for offline degrees, mainly because of additional facilities which may not even be relevant to the course. A lot of expenses owing to food, travel, and living costs are also cut down in the case of online degrees.
- A better cognitive experience– A lot of online nursing programs integrate a diverse array of resources like videos, audio lectures, virtual quizzes, and other interactive modules. This ensures a richer cognitive experience for smoother and faster learning.
- A technological upper hand- As the healthcare industry struggles to incorporate technology at the informatics level, nurses who already know their way around computers can greatly alleviate the levels of digital literacy in the nursing workforce. In the long run, this can ensure better administrative practices and efficient data processing and organization.
- Boosting soft skills– An online nursing degree can be beneficial not just career wise but also for personal growth. It will also hone skills like self-discipline, time management, and communication.
Types of nursing degrees available online
Numerous institutes offer entry-level diploma courses to doctorate and specialization certificates to nurses. The most popular of these courses include:
- ADN programs
- LPN to RN programs
- RN to BSN programs
- MSN programs
- DNP courses
- Nurse practitioner courses
Several universities also offer bridge nursing programs and accelerated nursing programs.
Are offline nursing degrees valued above online ones?
Contrary to popular belief, online nursing degrees can be equivalent to offline ones. But to be considered so, they must be either the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) approved.
A recognized nursing program falls short in no way with regard to its curriculum. They need to meet the same standards as offline ones for them to be recognized by accrediting organizations. Everything from candidate eligibility criteria to lab work requirements, are scrutinized before approval. So, they need to be just as meticulous as offline programs.
An online nursing degree can be an efficient means of advancing your career, but doing your research before enrolling into an online nursing program is also very important. Often, scholarships, grants, and several other kinds of financial aid are also available for nurses pursuing accredited online programs.
Most employers also hold a favorable outlook toward online degrees. Accreditation plays a considerable role in ensuring employers’ faith in online degrees, so it is essential to earn your degree from an accredited program.
What is an online nursing degree experience like?
Online degrees are synonymous with ease and convenience. It doesn’t require students to show up for physical exams at a fixed place. Instead, these degrees employ a variety of innovative tools to train their students.
Online nursing programs use a variety of ways to test their students’ skills and knowledge. Tools like telehealth stations and branching activities are used to stimulate real-life scenarios to test practical knowledge.
An Ohio State article recounts how nursing students are tested by having to asses a patient through a live video stream. The article also notes how instructors create real-life scenarios virtually where students must choose an option, they find most suited as the best course of action from an available array of options. In some cases, these scenarios are played out completely, taking the student to an unwanted outcome in case an incorrect answer is chosen.
Students in online programs are often required to interact with their peers by joining online group discussions for projects and case studies. Most online programs also require a specified number of hours of hands-on clinical experience, like offline programs.
Online nursing programs and the future of nursing
Online nursing programs can significantly contribute to the development of the multifaced dimension healthcare is headed towards. As nurses with interdisciplinary specialties become increasingly sought after, online programs can help nurses with creating a diverse resume.
In addition, as nursing education becomes more accessible, it can prompt more students to take up nursing as a career choice. Accelerated programs can also help with faster licensure and funnel more working professionals into the workforce. Both these factors can be the key to meeting the looming nurse shortages in the oncoming decade.