Online education has been a fixture for some time. Even though traditional education offers students certain perks, earning a degree through an online course of study has benefits for professionals and young people choosing a career. Nursing is one of those professions where getting an online education provides some advantages.

An American Association of Colleges of Nursing article from April 2022 reported that enrollments in nursing programs were increasing. Among the 964 nursing programs surveyed with a 91.2 percent response rate, nursing programs across degree programs experienced a spike in student enrollment. The increases were noted in online Doctor of Nursing Practice Courses and nursing preparation baccalaureate programs, with both programs showing consistent growth over the last 20 years. Additionally, in terms of bachelor’s degree programs, between 38 and 62 percent of these students enrolled in online programs.

These figures illustrate how more nursing students are opting for online education. It often makes sense to choose online education when many programs use technology that allows them to offer students a course of study that mimics traditional nursing programs. Furthermore, while nursing baccalaureate and doctoral programs have seen a spike in enrollment, online colleges offer a range of degree programs to students with diverse professional aspirations. Some of the programs that exist across the board at colleges and universities are the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), the registered nurse to BSN program, and the master’s in nursing.

What should nursing students expect when enrolling in online programs?

Nursing Specialisms

Nursing schools have existed for decades, preparing students every year for a career in caring for others. In the last 20 years, technology has changed the format of instruction for many degree programs, including nursing. Online nursing programs have specifically been designed to provide students with the book knowledge and vital practical experience needed to work in most healthcare settings.

Most online nursing programs ask students to take classes online that are either synchronous or asynchronous. Synchronous classes require the student to log on at a specific time for the professor’s lecture in the same way a person might attend class at a physical site. Conversely, asynchronous classes allow students a little more flexibility in the sense that they can log on to lectures and complete assignments whenever they choose, as long as they meet certain deadlines.

Some programs offer classes that are online or hybrid/blended. Hybrid/blended classes might entail both asynchronous and synchronous elements, in addition to online meetings and face-to-face interactions. Outside of the academic work, students might also attend skills or simulation labs that occur online or at the school’s designated program site.

These simulation labs are designed to help students apply what they learn as a part of their online coursework to a real-world setting. Some of the skills they practice in this setting include giving patients intravenous fluid (IV), dressing wounds and checking vital signs, among other skills. This is typically done on simulation mannequins.

Like traditional nursing programs, students must participate in clinical rotations. Again, these rotations place students in a medical center and help them become comfortable dealing with the many different situations they might face as nurses after their educations are complete.

Why would someone choose online education?

Of course, people have a myriad of reasons for taking an online program instead of a traditional one. However, a review of several sources shows that nursing students choose online education for reasons ranging from convenience to financial concerns. Here is a look at why online nursing programs are more appropriate for some students.

Online education is convenient

One of the most obvious reasons to choose an online nursing program is its convenience. In an asynchronous program, students create a schedule that allows them to fit work and family responsibilities around attending online lectures and reviews, taking exams, and completing virtual lessons and readings. These programs provide students with families – such as those with young children – and other obligations – like demanding work schedules – with the flexibility to take courses when it is more convenient, and it allows them to enroll in a program without having to sacrifice time for family or work. Moreover, with a connected device, the student can watch lectures, take tests, and participate in class activities from any location in the world.

Online Nursing School

It provides students with the opportunity to personalize their education

The convenience of online education allows students to make their education personalized through additional resources. Consider cases where certain students find that online lectures are not interesting or are difficult to understand. These students can access resources that make learning interesting and engaging, making comprehending difficult concepts easy. By the same token, someone who grasps concepts quickly can pace themselves; instead of having to move to the tempo of the professor and entire class, they can finish their course material and move on to other concepts at their own pace.

Online education includes diverse mediums for learning and communicating

Online education offers students the ability to learn in a few different ways. In the conventional classroom, professors lecture to students, and if the professor is creative, students learn using different communication modes. Alternatively, because the online learning platform is virtual, professors are forced to rely on other communication styles to disseminate information. Some of the communication mediums a professor might use to impart information include video conferencing, discussion strings, and text messaging.

Furthermore, because students are learning in a comfortable environment, whether it’s at home or some other location, those who would be shy about participating in a crowded classroom have a better opportunity to have their voices heard.

In terms of communicating with professors, the online format provides opportunities for one-on-one contact that might not happen unless a professor is proactive. Students can contact their professors at any time of the day through email, online chat, and videoconferencing to communicate any concerns they might have in the class. These diverse communication methods close the gaps related to traditional distance learning programs.

It provides a foundation for group study

In a conventional nursing program, students attend classes, which can occupy a lot of their time in terms of getting ready and commuting. In contrast, students take most of their coursework online at their convenience, so they have additional time to meet with classmates for group study. With more time to study with classmates, students can meet with others at any location to iron out any problems they might have, discuss exams or work on assignments.

Online Nursing Programs

It provides opportunities to use current technology

Avoiding technology has become more difficult these days. Almost every aspect of life now involves using technology, and nursing is no different. Administrative work is a big part of nursing documentation, and in today’s medical industry, much of this documentation is digitized. As a part of your online nursing education, some of the skills needed are developed while becoming more comfortable with working on the computer or developing computer literacy. Some of these administrative duties relate to accessing patient information from electronic health records.

Online education can facilitate organization

Any student who has ever walked into a classroom has had a folder or binder for holding handouts, graded assignments, study sheets, notes, and an amalgam of school-related items. By the end of the semester, the only hope was that none of that material was missing. If the professor did not record the assignment for some reason, the onus was on the student to furnish the missing assignment to prove that the work was completed.

With online education, storing important work and keeping records of progress is so much more organized than in conventional education. Many online programs use learning management systems (LMS) to record grades and store tests, assignments, projects, and other activities. As stated previously, professors can automatically store, grade, and calculate scores, so there is little room for error.

Ultimately, the LMS is an organized way for professors to store grades while allowing students to track their progress in the class.

Online education can be cost-effective

When classes move from a brick-and-mortar space to the virtual realm, higher education institutions save money because they don’t need to maintain a physical space. Furthermore, labor-saving programs such as automated online grading reduce the time professors spend on this part of teaching. In the end, these reduced costs are passed down to the student in terms of tuition.

For students, attending an online educational course can be less expensive because it means there is no need to drive to campus and pay for parking and fuel. In addition, students who typically might move away to attend a program save on dorm costs. A college student who attends an online nursing program only needs to travel for face-to-face meetings. The rest of the time, they can essentially complete their course of study from home.

Finally, students can also save on the costs associated with purchasing books. Many times, students are given information in the form of .pdf books and materials, which are less expensive than hardcover books. When compared to learning in the traditional classroom setting, online learning offers students more value for money all around.

It provides a safe alternative for learning in the post-pandemic era

In the last few years, the entire educational system has been upturned because of COVID. Before the pandemic, sitting close to other students in a classroom with several other pupils might not have raised any concerns. However, the pandemic shut all of this down, and now more than ever, personal space has become a very important part of the learning landscape. Enrolling in an online nursing program allows a person to avoid the awkwardness of whether to social distance or not because students can work from any location, including their homes, while remaining free from exposure to infections.

Nursing license

Depending on the program, online studies can earn a degree faster

Most colleges and universities offer students the chance to earn their degrees and certificates in a traditional two-year or four-year program. This experience is great for someone who wants to attend a traditional program that offers a student the full range of college-related experiences. However, many returning students do not have the time to devote to extra hours in school. Many online nursing programs offer students the chance to enroll and study in a program that can provide them with a degree in their specialization in as little as 16 months. Not only will they save time, but they can also potentially save money in terms of tuition costs.

Who might benefit from online nursing programs?

Online programs give people who would normally be unable to advance their education a chance to reach their professional aspirations. An online nursing program is suitable for professionals who live and work too far away from a traditional academic institution. Furthermore, the online platform works for professionals who must work full-time jobs but want to return to school to earn a degree in nursing.

Online nursing programs work for professionals who are already in the field in instances where the costs of attending an online program can be mitigated with tuition reimbursements. Many healthcare organizations offer to pay for their healthcare professionals to advance their education. For this group of students, taking an online nursing program is often simply a matter of deciding whether to attend an institution that offers training throughout a semester (12 to 14 weeks), a term (5 to 10 weeks), or one class at a time.

Final words

Technology has provided the steppingstone for many to attend college in a way that is less disruptive to daily living. Online nursing programs provide students with the same education they might find in a traditional program. With the numerous possibilities available, students only need to contact a college counselor, speak with their mentors, or search to find the right program.

Ultimately, online education can provide students with the skills and tools needed to work in their specialization, and in some cases, it even allows them to graduate and start earning money sooner than in a traditional setting.

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