Top 3 Reasons to Consider Attending Nursing School Online
You probably already know that nurses are absolutely vital to our modern health care system. It's why registered nurses (RNs) outnumber physicians in the U.S. by about four to one.* You might even be one of those RNs. But you might not be aware of just how possible—and beneficial—it can be to find a good online program to continue (or begin) your nursing education. Here are three of the best reasons to look into the available options:
1. Ultimate Convenience
Can you get a nursing degree online—really? The answer, of course, is yes. Or, to put it more precisely: Yes, but it depends.
If you're a true beginner without any existing nursing credentials, then your education is unlikely to be entirely online. Instead, you can often find hybrid programs in which many classes are delivered over the Internet in combination with some in-person training components. That's because beginning nursing students need to be able to practice and demonstrate their laboratory and clinical skills—usually in both simulated and real-world medical settings.
On the other hand, if you're currently a licensed nurse, then a lot of fully online programs may be possibilities for you. Some of the most popular examples include RN to BSN bridge programs, which can often be completed at home and enable nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) to upgrade to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
Either way, the convenience factor is huge. Learning online can give you a lot of flexibility in how you schedule your time. In some programs, it can even enable you to accelerate your learning and finish your degree sooner than might otherwise be possible. It's an especially good option for anyone who needs to maintain their employment or has family responsibilities.
2. An Expanded Role in Nursing
Are you currently a practical or registered nurse with some clinical experience and a desire to do more in your career? This area is where a lot of the best online nursing programs shine. They can increase your level of knowledge and make you an even more capable and competent nurse.
For example, an RN to BSN program can teach you how to incorporate more research-based care into your nursing practices. And it can also help qualify you for working in a more managerial, educational, or community-related role within the field.
Other examples of worthwhile online programs for nurses include those that can upgrade your credentials to the master's or doctorate degree levels as well as those that let you earn specialized post-degree certifications. For instance, maybe you have an interest in becoming a nursing-related legal consultant, a family nurse practitioner, a nurse educator, or a gerontology nurse practitioner.
3. Better Employment and Advancement Opportunities
By the year 2020, the number of unfilled RN positions in America could amount to over 800,000.* One reason for this potential nursing shortage is that health care technologies and treatments continue to get more sophisticated. As a result, the need for highly skilled nurses with more advanced credentials keeps growing. And more and more employers are seeking RNs who hold bachelor's degrees or higher qualifications.
So you would be far from alone in wanting to upgrade your education in order to qualify for better positions. In fact, in 2011 alone, almost 28,000 nurses completed RN to BSN programs—part of an increasing trend seen every year since 2007 across many states.**
That's why popularity is rising for online nursing programs. In Texas, for example, almost 54 percent of employed RNs held at least a bachelor's degree in 2014.*** But the trend is nationwide. Well over half of all American RNs now hold at least a BSN degree.** And many of those RNs started their careers with diplomas or associate's degrees and took advantage of online courses of study to upgrade their credentials while maintaining their existing jobs.
An Easy Way to Move Forward
One of the best actions you can take right now is to find and connect with a good nursing school. Online programs are offered by a growing number of institutions. So it's in your interest to look into the variety of possibilities. Why not begin today by searching for suitable options with the convenient tool below?
* American Association of Colleges of Nursing, website last visited on June 5, 2015.
** U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, The U.S. Nursing Workforce: Trends in Supply and Education, website last visited on June 5, 2015.
*** Texas Center for Nursing Workforce Studies, website last visited on June 5, 2015.