How Online Nursing Programs Work & Why to Take Them

Have you always had a passion for helping others? Or maybe you want to make a difference after seeing nurses fight against the coronavirus. If you’ve ever considered becoming a nurse, now is as good a time as any. There is a tremendous need and scope for registered nurses in hospital systems all over the United States. Not only is there a demand for nurses, but the field is also renowned for the superior pay scale registered nurses enjoy, even with little experience. 

But the most important thing is that as a nurse you get to make a difference, fight on the front lines, and get recognized for your contributions – at great personal sacrifice and risk. If this is something that sounds like a good deal to you, an online nursing program can make it happen in the easiest and the most straightforward way. 

So How Do Online Nursing Programs Work?

In short, online nursing programs work from the comfort of your living room. A simple nursing degree is not going to turn you into a registered nurse. But, that is where you start. So you must either acquire a nursing diploma or a nursing degree.

The second step would be to take your national licensing examination a.k.a. the NCLEX – RN. Only once you successfully pass this examination will you have earned your license. Therefore, the designation of “registered nurse” applies to your professional license, rather than the successful completion of a degree program, whether online or not.

Becoming a Registered Nurse

Let us look at the three steps that go into becoming a registered nurse.

  1. Complete your online certificate or diploma. This is the minimum required nursing education.
  2. Get some experience, and this is typically acquired by working under a registered nurse. Technically this is referred to as “supervised clinical experience”, and you have to put in the hours at a healthcare facility.
  3. Finally, you have to pass your NCLEX – RN examination to get your license, and become an official RN.

Online Nursing Programs Available 

When pursuing a nursing degree online, there are mainly three educational options available.

  1. You can get an online diploma or certificate through an approved nursing program.
  2. You can opt for an associate nursing degree online
  3. You can go for a BSN – an online bachelor of science in nursing program.

Commonly, people opt for nursing diplomas that require a minimum commitment in terms of time, effort and money. This gives them the designation of a Licensed Practical Nurse. Using this designation they can start working and complete online coursework for an associate degree en route to becoming a registered nurse.

Choosing a Program 

Many different types of institutions offer accelerated nursing programs. While you may focus on larger universities, you’ll want to think outside the box as well. Even local community colleges may have online nursing programs or hybrid programs that can get you a diploma or an associate’s degree. Regardless of the kind of institution you are considering, always make sure to assess program reputation against factors such as rigor and costs!

Why Pursue an Online Nursing Program

One of the most common reasons online nursing programs are so popular is the flexibility in scheduling it offers. You get to work full-time and work on your classes from the comfort of your home. These programs require: 

  1. Participation
  2. Assignments
  3. Testing

The best thing about online nursing programs is that all three of these elements can be tackled without having to go to a specific location. Participation often requires periodically logging into the discussion boards, as per the requirements of your particular program. You may also be required to post at a certain frequency.

Assignments are time-limited submissions of a certain length. Typically these carry greater weight in terms of credits. You have all of the same resources available to complete your assignments as though you were taking a nursing course in a traditional college setting. This removes any barriers to getting your assignments completed. Finally, the testing phase of these programs is also online. 

Online tests may be time-limited, have a single page refresh, and may use a variety of different types of questions including word problems, short essays, video questions, etc. Oftentimes, tests hold the most weight in any given nursing course, even more so than assignments and participation combined. 

Be Optimistic But Cautious

Pursuing your dream of becoming a nurse can be exciting. However, it is important to always be cautious when choosing your program and not just get carried away by pursuing your dreams. After 2010 the federal government started cracking down on several online schools and their programs. Some schools were found to be price gouging and making false claims over subsequent employment and prospects. 

However, this works in your favor because the programs surviving are highly rated and properly vetted. 

For many, going to a traditional brick-and-mortar school is simply not feasible, whether it is due to location or finances. This is what makes online nursing programs so appealing. Just be sure to look into the credentials of the institution you want to attend and do your due diligence before signing up for any program. 

The world needs nurses. If you are ready to take the next step to make your mark on the world, consider choosing an online nursing program.

Written by:
Lara Harper