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Preparing for an Online Nursing Program

If you are a registered and practicing nurse, there are several online degree programs that you can undertake to further your career. These non-clinical degrees are delivered entirely over the internet and can be completed either full-time or part-time. They are ideal for currently practicing nurses who are looking to advance their careers and move more to the managerial side of things.

A fantastic example of an online nursing degree is the Baylor DNP NNP program. This 18-month online program is designed for actively practicing registered nurses who want to undertake an advanced practice role leading nursing care for infants up to the age of 24 months. This is just one example; there are several different types of program available with several different institutions.

Online Degrees: Why Do It?

Today, any and all degree programs that can be molded and changed to fit into a format that can be delivered online, have been. This is simply the natural progression of the world – as everything becomes more digital, educational institutions are adapting and delivering entire degree programs to students who never have to set foot on campus.

Although most online degrees are in areas such as IT or the arts, there are several nursing and other medical online programs available.

Studying online is a convenient way for students to get the degree they have always wanted in a way that suits them, especially when students are working professionals such as practicing nurses who do not want to, or simply cannot, put their lives on hold to go and study at college again.

It is worth noting that many of the most popular nursing programs cannot be delivered online. Of course, this is because they are heavily clinical – there is a lot of hands-on training (e.g. on BSN and ADN courses) that simply cannot be delivered online. We are starting to see the emergence of so-called “blending” nursing programs, however, where the theoretical aspect is delivered online and the clinical aspect is delivered on campus.

Are You Prepared to Study Nursing Online?

If you have decided that you are ready to study nursing online, whether you are a new student going for a “blended” course or a practicing RN looking to further their career, you need to be sure that you are prepared for the challenge ahead.

Just because a nursing program is available online, does not mean that it is going to be any easier than a nursing program that is delivered on-campus, in person. In fact, many people argue that online nursing programs are a lot more difficult because they involve more independent learning. Some of the other challenges surrounding online nursing programs include:

  • Finding the time to balance study and downtime;

  • Little access to on-demand help;

  • Staying motivated and driven; and

  • Completing deadlines on time.

While studying from the comfort of your own home may sound ideal, it is not for everyone. Each person learns differently, and it is up to you to be honest with yourself and decide whether it will work out.

This is especially true for mature students and existing professionals who have current work and family commitments. It is likely that you will be working all day and then studying late into the night and early into the morning, even on weekends and holidays, to make sure that you get everything done. It is something that takes a whole lot of commitment and drive, and many people lack this (and don’t realize until it is much too late!)

So, while you are here, carefully consider whether an online nursing program is right for you. To help you, we have weighed up some of the pros and cons.

Pro: Study from Home

Obviously, the biggest pro of studying an online nursing course is that you can do it from home. The fact that a course is delivered online can be a huge perk for some students. Instead of having to worry about your timings, commitments, and battling with the traffic or public transport in the morning, all you need to do is find somewhere comfortable and log on to your computer.

Instead of carrying heavy bags and books around a college campus with you all day, you can sink into the comfort of your favorite chair and concentrate on your studies. The perks of studying from home are even more apparent when you have children and pets to look after, too!

Con: It Can Be Difficult to Remain Organized

Naturally, many students who undertake online courses can become lazy. This is because it is natural to think that you are in charge of your own learning while you are at home. Of course, this is true to an extent, however, it does not mean that you can submit work and complete the course as and when you want.

This is particularly problematic with online courses relating to medical fields because certain elements of certain courses need to be completed within certain time frames. In addition to this, students will still have deadlines for their work. As soon as a student lets organization slip, their whole course can be placed in jeopardy.

Pro: You Have More Control Over How You Learn

In general, online courses and programs allow students to be more flexible in their approach to learning and schedules. If you know your own schedule and how you work best with it, or how you work with certain resources, you will have a lot more scope to direct your learning in the way you want and benefit most from. With online courses, students have the freedom to consume information in a format that works best for them. This can accelerate learning.

Certain programs offer high levels of control, too. Staying in the realm of nursing, some RN to BSN online programs are almost entirely competency-based, meaning that students on them have 100% control over how they complete their coursework. This means that students can spend more time on elements that they are struggling with and less time on elements that they know very well and can fly through.

When you add this to the other pros of online learning, you quickly begin to see just how these programs offer a huge level of flexibility and control.

Con: You Need to Motivate Yourself

If you are somebody who likes to procrastinate and put deadlines off until the last minute, do not do an online nursing program… or any online program, for that matter… you will struggle! Remember that you are paying good money for the privilege of that all-important diploma at the end of your studies and you don’t want to waste it through procrastination. Online programs maximize overall flexibility and those of you who need solid rules in place and to be held to account will struggle to stay on track.

While it is easy for anybody to fall behind and forget about an assignment, this problem is exacerbated by the lack of an on-campus physical presence and the absence of tutors, instructors, and classmates. Online learning, therefore, requires you to be more vigilant and stick to a schedule religiously.

Pro: You Can Use More Tech

Without technology, online learning wouldn’t be possible. It is only natural then that online courses truly maximize the utility of it. Not only that, but all industries, healthcare especially, are being dramatically changed by technological innovations. By studying for an online qualification, graduates will feel more comfortable learning about and working with new technologies. They will also acquire new skills and be able to apply these to their future work, making them more valuable job candidates.

Today’s online learning platforms are decked out with tools that increase student interaction and provide valuable IT skills. By being out of the classroom and online, you are taken out of your comfort zone and are forced to adapt.

Con: Less Face-to-Face Interaction

If you are somebody who thrives on social interaction, then adjusting to an online learning environment will be a huge challenge. In fact, you may feel isolated and alone at first. This is because students who are very social and enjoy face-to-face settings will feel less involved and less committed to their studies. When you interact with your instructors and classmates day in, day out, there is a positive peer pressure that makes studying at college what it is – without this, some struggle.

That being said, an online course does not mean that you are 100% shut off from other students and instructors. You will get plenty of opportunities to communicate with your classmates, and over time you may find that study groups are formed where you will be able to meet up with them.

Still Think It’s Right for You?

If after reading the pros and cons you think that an online nursing program will be right for you, then go for it! They are fantastic ways for existing professionals to change their career directions and wannabe nurses to prepare for the challenges of the modern nursing profession.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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