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Can I Earn a Nursing Degree Online?

Nathan Wilgeroth / Abound: Finish College »

If you’re looking to change or advance your career path, you would be doing yourself a great service by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or BSN. With larger job prospects and salaries than other nursing credentials, this undergraduate degree has a large return on investment that will continue to reward you for years to come. 

But let’s talk about that initial investment.

As an adult with various commitments—your current job, family, etc.—it might seem daunting to take on a college education on top of everything else. Luckily, it is possible to earn an accredited BSN online, whether you already have an associate’s degree in nursing or are just starting from scratch! Read more to find out how you can take part in a remote, flexible program that will help you achieve your goals.

Why Earn a Nursing Degree?

As if it weren’t already obvious, the last year has demonstrated the need of and appreciation for healthcare workers. Even before the pandemic, demand for registered nurses had been growing and was expecting to grow with no real end in sight. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted a 7% growth in demand for nurses between the years 2019 and 2029—almost double the rate for the average of all occupations. About 175,900 positions for nurses are predicted to open up annually, meaning that those with the skills and credentials will always be employable and wanted. What’s more, nurses have topped the Gallup poll’s ranking of the most trusted professions for the eighteenth year in a row, showing that the life-changing impact of compassionate healthcare workers are both valued and valuable.

Dr. Lori Dowell, Interim Director of Nursing at Siena Heights University, expands upon the meaningful work that nurses do and the qualities that make them truly impactful caretakers:

Nurses have the amazing opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and play a vital role in the healthcare team. Nurses use critical thinking and clinical reasoning skills to continuously monitor and evaluate patients, and advocate for the needs of patients, families, and the community. Nurses must be smart, creative, educated, and skilled to meet the demands of the ever-changing healthcare environment. Research indicates nurses with a BSN tend to deliver safer and more effective nursing care that leads to more positive patient outcomes. Nurses possessing a BSN also gain the advantage of more career versatility, as they are prepared for roles in areas such as public health, mental health, administration, and critical care. 

Is Online Nursing School a Good Idea?

The popularity of online education is growing for a reason. Not-for-profit, accredited colleges and universities have put in hard work to ensure that their online programs are on par with their traditional, on-campus counterparts. If you feel that you are comfortable with the format, then earning a BSN online is a solid investment. Not only is the curriculum just as rigorous and informative, but schools are also making a point to prioritize one-on-one student/faculty interaction. Upper Iowa University’s RN-to-BSN program even pairs each student directly with a full-time faculty member and academic advisor to ensure that they are on track to graduate while also tailoring their education to their needs and goals. Even though students learn remotely, many schools put in the effort to make it just as personal, engaging, and informative. 

Accredited institutions find that their online nursing students’ pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) are similar to those of their traditional students, showing an equal level of proficiency no matter the format. If online education sounds like something you can fit into your schedule, then you are sure to reap the benefits of online nursing school.

Can I Get a Job With an Online Nursing Degree?

Yes! Online degrees from accredited schools are completely legitimate, so the curriculum adequately prepares you for licensure exams and clinical practice in their jurisdiction. These programs are designed to fit an already busy lifestyle without cutting any corners, helping you graduate with the knowledge and skills you need. In fact, Davis & Elkins online nursing graduates have enjoyed a 100% job placement rate for five years in a row. Success rates like these abound for trusted institutions.

Do Out-of-State Degrees Meet My State’s Licensure Requirements?

Before you start searching around for an online BSN program, you should first understand the requirements dictated by the specific state you plan to work in. Just because you’re technically able to enroll in a school across the country while still being able to learn from home, not all programs will have the same curriculum, as schools design theirs around the parameters set by the Board of Nursing in their state. That’s not to suggest that no degree will meet the requirements outside of the state in which it was administered; rather, it’s merely important to pay attention to your individual state of residence.

Be sure to review the individual requirements of your state’s Board of Nursing, and cross-check with all of your schools of interest to see that they will fulfill your needs. When in doubt, you can always email an admissions counselor to answer any questions you may have.

No matter what state you’re in, you must verify that a school is properly accredited both regionally as well as through such accrediting bodies as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Should I Go to School Online or In Person?

All students have different learning styles, and depending on the way you learn best, you might already know whether you would prefer online or in-person schooling. Thankfully, there are so many options available to you to help you thrive. 

If you prefer to learn in person, part-time, on-campus classes can be a great option that still allows you to go to work and tend to your other life commitments. Evening and weekend courses are available so that you do not have to attend class during regular business hours.

For busy working adults who would prefer not to commute, fully online courses are a great way to squeeze your education in between your life commitments. At Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia, for instance, the RN-to-BSN Program is 100% online and specially designed for working RNs. All courses are offered online and asynchronously in six eight-week-long rotations. With only two courses offered in each rotation, students can efficiently balance their school, professional, and personal lives. With the ability to enroll as full- or part-time students, those enrolled can earn their BSN in just one year!

100% online and 100% in-person classes are not your only option! In fact, many programs offer hybrid options, which blend online and in-person learning in which students meet on campus occasionally (for things like tests or projects) while listening to lectures and doing assignments online. 

For most hybrid nursing programs, and even in otherwise completely online programs, the in-person component takes the form of an internship and/or clinical experience. Take Oklahoma Christian University, whose partnership with Integris Health offers the opportunity for students to take courses online while also gaining real, hands-on experience caring for patients under the supervision of registered nurses. This on-the-job training not only earns them a paycheck, but it also counts as clinical experience credit toward their degree.

No matter the format, it is likely that experiential clinical work is necessary to graduate; hands-on proficiency is, of course, a minimum job requirement in healthcare.

So where do you start? Abound: Finish College has thoroughly vetted schools for their accessibility, affordability, acceleration and efficiency, and ability to help advance students’ careers. Take a look at the schools we trust to help narrow down your search for the online nursing program that’s perfect for your future.

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