All you need to know about online nursing programs
The road towards becoming a licensed professional nurse is not an easy one, but for those that have completed this process, virtually all of them will go on record to say that it was well worth it. In order to pursue this career, it is essential for future nurses to carefully examine which nursing programs to enroll in to get them closer to their goals.
What are Nursing Programs?
Because of the various specialties in the nursing field, this calls for a training program that is designed to properly train and prepare individuals according to the area they wish to specialize in. Nursing programs offer a tailored approach and subject matter that directly relates to the qualifications and skills required by employers in the medical industry. Even working nurses have the benefit of taking additional programs to enhance their current skills or acquire new ones in order to move up in the ranks.
No two nursing programs are exactly the same. Some take longer than others to complete and there are differences in coursework, which is why it is important for students to recognize which type of program emphasis they are interested in and whether it will help them reach their career goals. Once a program is chosen, it is up to each student to invest the time and commitment needed to finish their training.
Types of Online Nursing Programs
There are different types of nursing programs students have to choose from to meet their goals. The most popular include pursuing a degree in nursing, completing a certificate program or receiving onsite job training.
ADN Degree: Short for “Associates Degree in Nursing,” students that participate in this program are able to attend the local community or junior college to receiving their training. This educational route is ideal for those that either do not want or cannot afford to go to school outside their area of residence. Associate degree nursing programs typically take between 2-3 years to finish. Upon completion, an individual with their ADN is qualified to take the NCLEX or the National Council Licensure Examination in order to obtain their license to begin working as a registered nurse.
BS/BSN: Pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing is the traditional four-year program that is offered by colleges and universities. While there are online nursing programs that place emphasis in a specific field of practice, receiving an education through a BSN introduces students to a much broader approach to the medical. Instead of focusing on one area, BSN graduates take classes in various subjects (physiology, biochemistry, clinical microbiology, nutrition, anatomy, behavioral sciences, etc.) to provide them with a more integrated knowledge of the profession.
Obtaining a BSN opens more possibilities for those wanting to pursue a Master’s degree in a concentrated area of study and practice. Professional nurse educators, practitioners and researchers often follow this path.
Certificate: Because of the demand for qualified candidates in the medical field is so high, certificate nursing programs are becoming very popular. Most certificate programs take between 1-2 years to complete and are offered at community colleges, as well as through online schools.
Onsite Job Training: In some cases, medical facilities offer their own versions of online nursing programs, which are similar to internships, where individuals have the ability to study the field while participating in hands-on training from healthcare professionals in an actual medical environment. Such programs are sometimes known as hospital diplomas.
Popular Online Nursing Programs
Many popular nursing schools are designed to help speed up the process of moving a person on to their next level of professional training.
LPN/LVN to RN: Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses participating in this program finish with an ADN and are eligible to continue on to the next levels of nursing classes. LPN/LVN to RN programs typically last between 2-3 years and is available at community colleges, nursing schools, junior colleges and technical schools.
LPN to BSN: Licensed Practical Nurses enrolled in this program do so with the intention of completing their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. Unlike the LPN/LVN to RN program, the LPN to BSN route takes between 2-4 years and is offered mainly through colleges, universities and nursing schools.
RN to BSN: Registered nurses already in the field can easily obtain their Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing by enrolling in this program, which takes 1-2 years to complete and is available through colleges, nursing schools and universities.
RN to MSN: Registered nurses wishing to get a Master’s in their field will want to apply for this type of program. Participation in the RN to MSN program results in obtaining a Master of Science Degree in Nursing and takes 2-4 years to complete at any nursing school, college or university.
Which Nursing School is Right for You?
While the information regarding online nursing programs may appear overwhelming, it is vital to thoroughly review each program in order to find the perfect fit for your needs and career aspirations. Some things to keep in mind when choosing your program include:
- The type of school you wish to attend (college, university, online institution, nursing school)
- Your financial situation (whether you’ll require financial aid or not)
- Program entry requirements, time frame for completion and deadlines
- Comparing programs with your career goals and actual nursing job qualifications
It also helps to talk to people currently employed as nurses. If they are people you know personally, that is an advantage. Find out which path they took, what they liked and disliked about the program they completed, as well as if they would recommend it for you.
Why You Should Enroll
Nursing degrees were created with the distinct purpose of not only giving students the proper training to get them into the job market, but to understand and appreciate the value of the work and the importance of the skills learned. If you truly want to embrace this field and position yourself as the ideal candidate for any medical facility, enrolling in a nursing program is going to be your best bet.