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 Nightengale 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 RN (registered nurse) and MSN (Master of Science in Nursing).
If you’re considering an online nursing degree, 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!
Online course content tends to be the same as course content offered at ground schools. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
The Bureau of Labor Statistic’s predicts the need for nurses will grow by 26% between 2010 and 2020; those holding a nursing degree may be well-positioned for employment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicates in 2010, the median pay of an RN was $64,690. In the same year, the top 10% of earners commanded $95,130. Those holding advanced degrees and/or specializing in a particular area are often positioned to command a significantly higher salary, as can those in administrative positions.[i]