Is An Online Nursing Degree Really Worth It?
Today, online degree programs are becoming very popular. These programs offer the option of studying, taking tests and listening to lectures all from the comfort of your home and, if you want, your pajamas. It might be a surprise that online nursing programs exist, but there are many that do. With these programs, you already need an LPN license or an Associate's degree in nursing.
If you want to advance your education, it might be worth it to investigate these programs. In fact, if you are organized, tenacious, and determined, an online program might be a great fit for you.
Think about it: You can still work and do your studies around your own schedule. Sounds great, doesn't it? But, don't get too ahead of yourself. Before looking into an online program, you must ask yourself a few questions and do as much research as you possibly can before paying for an online degree.
Is your online nursing degree really worth the paper it's written on? You decide. Here are ten questions that you must ask yourself before even considering paying for this type of program.
Ten questions to ask about online nursing programs
1. What is a nursing program post-licensure?
You first need to be licensed as an LPN and seeking a registered nurse’s degree. Most experts agree that a pre-nursing license requires practical, hands-on experience. With hands-on clinical experience, you learn how to care for your patient in an actual medical environment.
Ruth Tarentine, Dean of Nursing at Colorado Technical University, reported to U.S. News that there are very few colleges offering online pre-licensure programs.
2. What are the clinical requirements of the program?
Even though you are at home and enjoying your online studies, there are clinical requirements for a post-licensure program. Your clinical or practicum component must be on site at a healthcare facility that can even be near your home. If you plan on working full time and taking online courses, you do need to research the commitment you will need to schedule for clinical hours.
“You do need to have access to professors who can show you how a specific procedure needs to be done,” Barbara Chapman told U.S. News when she was a student in the hybrid family nurse practitioner master’s program at the University of Texas-Tyler.
3. Is the course accredited?
Be sure to ask if the program you are seeking is accredited as well as demanding. Accreditation confirms that the program meets the standards of quality from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Demanding means that it is full of information and somewhat difficult.
There are some accreditation processes for an online program that may have additional requirements from campus classes. The program directors may be asked if the faculty is trained to teach online classes. The faculty members' ability to teach online may not seem important but teaching online demands specific training and practice. You must be convinced that online education is just as intensive as one on campus.
4. What are their bridge programs like?
Question the school about their bridge program options. Online nursing degree programs are considered bridge programs. For example, if you are an RN and want a Master of Science in Nursing, a bridge program gives registered nurses the opportunity to earn a master’s degree even if they don’t have a bachelor’s in the field.
The bridge is “that in-between space where we need to provide that information, that substance, that content.”
5. What is the course-load? Is it too much, or too little?
If you are seeking online learning, you need to know what the course load is. Most nurses work shifts and adding an online degree program in addition to clinical requirements might create a time management problem. Schedule yourself to do your coursework several times a week. You will have to schedule your coursework around your work, which may involve you studying on weekends and holidays.