Let’s say you’re dreaming of becoming a nurse…but you live in the middle of nowhere, and the closest program is an hour away. Or you’ve got Florence Nightingale aspirations…but your current job or your three kids make it close to impossible for you to attend class. Well, guess what – you can do your nursing degree online!
Online nursing, you say? Do I empty virtual bedpans? Give injections to the monitor? No. You simply complete the classwork portion of your degree online, and arrange an internship at a participating medical facility convenient to your location. The most commonly offered online nursing degrees are the online RN (registered nurse) and online MSN (Master of Science in Nursing).
If you’re considering an online nursing program, you’ll need consistent access to a computer with an internet connection. You’ll also need an email account. You may want to ask your school some particulars about other issues, such as what kind of software you might need and which internet browser to use. Most online school administrators understand their students run the gamut from tech geek to technologically challenged, so don’t be intimidated to ask questions if you’re confused! They might even have tech support and a resource center to get your started.
Prerequisites for application tend to be similar to those of ground schools. Of course, it’s always crucial to check with your school for details.
Online course content tends to be the same as course content offered on campus. Those concerned about missing out on face-to-face interaction and dialogue with their classmates need not worry: many schools utilize live chat software which provides a great way to hold class discussions. Online nursing programs may also use message boards, social media and even live streaming and video conferencing.
Plus there's the major benefit of earning your nursing degree online: the convenience and flexibility. Assignments have designated due dates, but most programs allow students to log in and take their classes any time, whether it’s 11 am or 4 am. While some schools allow students to complete their courses at their own pace, others require them to remain on a quarterly or semester system. Accordingly, some schools have rolling enrollment, while others have designated start dates. Check with the programs you like best to see which format they use.
Let’s talk finances. Public universities tend to be less expensive, and since you’re online, you often don’t have to pay out-of-state tuition. Of course, this isn't always the case. Students should also budget for texts and administration fees. While the general perception of online programs is that they’re quite expensive, some online nursing schools offer grants and scholarships, so be certain to check with the school of your choice to see what they provide.
Wondering whether an online graduate nursing program could pay off? The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s predicts the need for nurses will grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024. While a BSN or ADN degree and license is required for entry level positions, those holding a graduate nursing degree may be well-positioned for employment. Those wishing to become a CNS or APRN will need a masters degree. Increasingly, management-level nursing positions are also requiring a graduate degree in nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates in 2016, the median pay of an RN was $68,450. In the same year, the top 10% of earners commanded more than $102,990.[i]
Ready to to take the next step to earning your online nursing degree? You can read more about your various options here. Then search through potential programs and contact schools straight away.