While they’ve been around for a while, the idea of online nursing programs is still alien to many people. Some might think that it’s strange for someone to learn such a hands-on discipline as nursing online, while others might think it’s impossible. Some people may also believe that it’s impossible for a nurse that has been trained online to be as competent as someone who took the traditional route.
However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Online nursing programs allow nurses to be just as well trained as any of their counterparts due to their structure and the tools we have at our disposal today. Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions people have about online nursing degrees so we can dispel some of the myths behind them.
Are Online Degrees As Respected As Regular Degrees?
First of all, we need to dismiss the notion that there’s a big sticker saying “this degree was obtained online” on online degrees. There is absolutely no way for an employer to know how you got your degree and it shouldn’t be visible by your work or how you answer questions during interviews. This is because you’ll have gone through the same amount of theory and clinical work as nurses who went to a traditional nursing school. You will gain the same skill and have the same expertise.
However, all of this is dependent on whether you choose the right school and program. You first have to make sure that the course that you pick is accredited. This is what will ensure that your degree is recognized. This will also allow your credits to be recognized if you decide to switch schools or get a higher degree later on. You have to make sure that the program you were thinking of enrolling for was accredited by the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or by the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing).
These two organizations make sure that the programs are up to par and that you’ll be formed just as well as any other nurse. Only nursing programs that are accredited by these organizations should be considered. You can also look for regional accreditation from bodies like the Southern Associations of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges or the Middle States Commission on Higher Education just to name a few.
Is It Actually Possible To Become A Nurse Online?
While it’s true that there are many online nursing degrees and you will be recognized as long as you go for an accredited program, nursing programs usually don’t take place 100% online. Any nurse needs to get some experience in the field in labs or working with patients directly. This is why you will need to spend a certain number of hours in a clinical setting before you can get your degree.
The only exception here is if you are already a registered nurse or have an associate’s degree. If you do, and you also have a sufficient number of clinical hours under your belt, you might be eligible for one of these programs that are dispensed completely online.
Also note that some programs will only require that you come to campus from time to time for clinical work, while others will require that you come once or twice a week. Both of these options have pros and cons and you should consider both. For example, programs that don’t require you to attend campus as much are better for busy professionals, while those that require you to attend 1 or 2 times per week might be better for those who work part-time or still want some sort of direct contact with faculty and other students.
Is Tuition Cheaper?
While you can make up some savings since you’re not using the same level of resources, don’t expect to make huge savings on tuition. These schools need to keep their other programs running and even if you’re not attending on campus, you still have to pay to support the university.
However, there are plenty of ways that you could end up saving through an online degree. For one, you don’t have to spend on relocating or student housing. You also won’t have to spend extra on commuting and will be spending more time at home, which means fewer opportunities or the need to eat out. There’s also the fact that most of your study material will be digital, reducing the cost of manuals.
Can I Attend Classes & Complete The Program At My Own Pace?
While some programs will be more flexible than others, in most cases, they try to keep everything synchronized with the schedule of their regular programs. So, they will usually start around the same date. Also, you have programs that allow you to watch lectures when you want as long as you respect a schedule. These programs are called asynchronous and aren’t as common as synchronous classes. However, while they can be very convenient, they aren’t perfect.
For instance, you have to remember that you won’t be watching the lectures live. This means that you take the interaction aspect out of the situation. If you feel like online classes would be isolating, you’ll be completely alone now. This means that you can’t directly speak with other students, and you also can’t ask questions to teachers in real-time, which is one of the best aspects of online classes.
Another thing you should know is that it is often possible to get your degree faster if you get your degree online. There is a variety of bridge and accelerated programs that allow working nurses and those coming from other fields to get their degree in a fraction of the time it would usually take. This would make it a great option if you have the credits necessary or are a nurse with a few years of experience under your belt.
These are some of the most common questions about online nursing programs. If you still have questions that weren’t answered, we strongly suggest you consult with a counselor today and see what they can advise.