Turning Time at Home Into a New Healthcare Career
The COVID-19 pandemic introduced a lot of changes to the way we live our lives—not the least of which is the way we attend school, earn degrees, and begin new career paths. Colleges and universities across the country have had to adapt to the “new normal”, finding ways to educate their students while still following social distancing guidelines. All nursing courses now being offered at Provo College, for example, are available online; a change from semesters past.
The timing couldn’t be better. The 2020 pandemic is creating an even higher strain on the medical community, which was already feeling the pressure of an existing nurse shortage. There has never been a need for qualified nurses quite like the present, and online classes are quickly becoming the go-to solution for getting new healthcare professionals to the frontlines.
But how do online nursing programs work? Can you really become a nurse online? Is online nursing school hard? How long does an online nursing course even take?
Keep reading to find out all there is to know about the benefits on an online nursing education, and how you can use this time at home to potentially launch a new career in healthcare.
Can you really get a nursing degree online?
Yes! Becoming a nurse requires two things:
- Graduation from an accredited nursing program
- Passing the national licensing exam (NCLEX-RN)
In other words, as long as the classes you’re taking are part of an official course from an accredited institution, it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting in a classroom or working from a laptop at home.
Requirements do vary from state to state, however, so be sure to check the rules where you plan to work.
What type of nursing degree can I get online?
Nursing degrees available online include (but are not limited to):
Bachelor of Science in Nursing – The BSN degree typically takes three to four years to complete and equips graduates for potentially higher-paying jobs and bigger responsibilities than those with only an associates degree. Graduates can choose to practice in a variety of healthcare settings including long-term care, complex and critical care, school nursing, home health, and community health nursing.
RN-to-BSN Program – For registered nurses with associate degrees, the RN-to-BSN program allows students to advance their degree to the next level. This program can be completed in less than two years.
Master’s in Nursing – For students who have completed non-nursing college degrees but who are interested in pursuing a career in healthcare, the Masters in Nursing program provides just that opportunity. The MSN online program builds on existing, non-medical bachelor’s degrees and can be completed in as little as 22 months.
To find programs such as these, start by contacting a reputable institution and inquire whether they offer online learning. Using a search engine can also produce quick results but working with known schools reduces the risk of falling victim to scams.
So, what are the benefits of an online education?
You’ve now seen that online programs exist and that they can be used to lock down a nursing degree, but beyond that, are they worth it?
Here are a few of the top benefits of getting your nursing degree online.
Costs May Be Lower
A traditional brick-and-mortar school comes with a lot of overhead expenses: the building itself (power, maintenance), school supplies, property taxes, janitorial services, security, just to name a few. These expenses, plus the administration and faculty costs, are covered by student tuition.
For those studying at home, however, those brick-and-mortar expenses don’t apply, which means that many times, online study programs can be lower than traditional tuition. It may not be a big difference, but it’s always worth looking into.
There are other savings as well—taking classes at home means no travel costs, vehicle maintenance, buying cafeteria lunches, and other school expenses.
One of the biggest selling points of an online education is flexibility. While there may be the occasional “live” requirement, most classes and assignments can be done at your convenience. This makes it easier to schedule around work, time with kids, and other elements of your daily life.
Documentation may not sound all that exciting, but the convenience of having all your lessons, assignments, notes, transcripts, grades, and projects digitally stored and accessible 24/7 is very much an advantage. Forget leaving paperwork behind in a desk or accidentally forgetting a textbook in a locker—online learning means everything you need is always just a few keystrokes away.
One of the selling points of online learning is the opportunity for increased one-on-one instruction with your professor or instructor. Technology makes it easier than ever to reach out and collaborate with a teacher on material you may be struggling to understand—an advantage you’d struggle to find in a larger class in a traditional setting. Email, chat, and even video conferencing keeps you in direct contact with the person who can help you most.
Just because you’re studying in front of a laptop instead of a classroom chalkboard doesn’t mean you aren’t eligible for the perks of college enrollment—and that includes financial aid. Before you apply, reach out to the financial aid department of your intended school to take advantage of all the assistance available to you. And don’t forget to apply for outside scholarships as well. An online college student is still a college student, and there’s a lot you’re probably eligible for.
Social distancing hasn’t always been top of mind, but in 2020, it’s the criteria for everything. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional classrooms across the country are either shut down or heavily regulated in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Going outside, driving to school, filling up the car with gas, all these day-to-day activities are now risks, and everyone from businesses to schools are moving as much as they can online to help protect their employees and students.
Which means there’s never been a better time for online learning. Studying at home with a laptop is exponentially safer for you, and it helps prevent you from accidentally spreading germs to others. Win-win!
Learning from home forces students to adopt a higher level of self-discipline. Without the daily reminders that come from in-person classroom settings and set class schedules, scholastic success comes down to you and you alone. Can you manage your personal schedule and set aside enough time to watch lectures? Can you get up early to study even if you don’t have to physically leave the house or apartment?
Online learners have to learn to be self-starters in order to succeed, and that’s a life skill that will come in very handy as a nurse.
Set Your Own Pace
Some people learn faster than others, some people learn slower than others. It doesn’t make one person better than another, it just means that everyone moves at their own pace. For those who work a little slower, a traditional classroom setting can easily leave them feeling behind.
But learning online means learning at your own pace. If you need to pause a lecture to look something up, or you need to rewind a video to hear a key explanation again, you can do it!
Develop Technical Skills
As an online student, your education revolves around your ability to navigate the world of technology and communication. It pushes you beyond word processors and email to a new world of collaboration and connection software, including programs like:
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Office
Even after the pandemic ends, remote communication tools will continue to be used in a variety of circumstances and gaining additional experience now can only help later.
Some may worry that earning a degree online is somehow “less” than earning a nursing degree in a traditional environment. But the number one thing to remember is this:
Regardless of how the road they took to get there, everyone takes the same test in the end (NCLEX-RN), and everyone who passes leaves the room a licensed nurse.
The purpose of education—online or otherwise—is to help you pass your licensing exam and prepare you for whatever comes next. A nurse with an online degree has the exact same chance to make a difference in someone’s life as a nurse with a classroom degree.
What matters isn’t where you sat while you studied. What matters is what you do with what you learned.
Achieving Success as a Nurse through e-learning
Online learning is a powerful and versatile opportunity for those hoping to become a nurse. Whether you’re trying to become a nurse while working full-time or simply interested in becoming part of the fastest growing industry in the country, online courses provide the flexibility, the training, and the advantages to make that happen.
For more information on the online courses available now at Provo College, contact us today.