Is an Online Nursing Degree Right for You?
When considering a career as a nurse, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the vast number of
choices in nursing schools. With varying course lengths and levels of education ranging from a nurse's aide to
an LPN or RN, it can be difficult to determine how long you'll need to spend in school to get the job you want.
It can be even more of a challenge to choose a school and decide whether you prefer in-class training, online
courses, or on-the-job training. Is there a real benefit to choosing one certain type of learning over
Pros & Cons of an Online Nursing
Like any other teaching style, online nursing degree coursework has distinct
advantages and disadvantages:
- Flexibility: Pursuing a nursing degree
through an online program allows you to study at your own pace and schedule – an ideal situation if you
have a family to raise or hold another job to pay the bills during your studies.
- Responsibility: Because there is no
daily class requirement, it’s up to you to keep track of deadlines and stay on top of the reading material
and homework. An online nursing degree can be a wise choice if you're good at exercising
self-discipline and setting priorities, but if you have trouble motivating yourself once you get home from
work, a nighttime class might be a better option.
- Curiosity: Enjoy reading and learning new
things? If so, you may be well-suited to online coursework. If you learn better from classroom
presentations or face-to-face instruction, or if you have trouble with readings, then you'd be better off
in a traditional class environment.
Nursing Qualifications &
Is it possible to complete the same degrees and gain the same nursing certification online as
you could in a classroom? The answer is yes.
Although many nursing programs tout themselves as LPN or RN training programs, none of these
courses actually offer certifications as a licensed practical nurse or registered nurse. The actual certificates
are provided by an independent licensing board whose tests must be passed after completion of a nursing
Whether you study in a classroom, online, or through on-the-job training, you still have to
pass the same tests to become certified as an RN or LPN. A comprehensive online course can provide you with the
same quality of test preparation as any other nursing program.
What to Expect from Your Online Degree
Like any other nursing education program, online courses offer a combination of lessons,
readings, papers, and exams. Unlike traditional classes, all of these are offered over the Internet, along with
online discussion forums, feedback, and other support.
One of the most common qualms about online learning is that you’ll be unable to contact the
professor or ask questions about the course material. In fact, the opposite is often true. While traditional
classroom professors usually set specific office hours during which students can contact them, online
instructors can be reached via email and forums, typically resulting in much quicker response times. The forums
can also be a valuable source of study support; often, your classmates can provide immediate answers to your
questions without input from the professor.
The biggest shortcoming of online nursing degree programs is the lack of
hands-on experience. No matter how well you study or how high your marks are, you'll still be doing a great deal
of on-the-job learning during your early days of employment as a nurse. This is true of many in-class nursing
programs, but it's important, and in most cases required, that you continue learning even after you complete your online degree.
Please refer to the Online Degrees Guide for more resources.
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