Whether you are already a nurse or have chosen to become one, online nursing schools can help you pursue or advance your career goals. Nowadays, it is crucial for you to stay current with new skills and knowledge, as modern nursing involves new technology, research, and treatments. Besides, nursing schools could lead to lucrative career opportunities. They offer a wide range of areas to pursue career opportunities in. These include patient care, teaching, and administration. Thus, a nursing career could be pursued in different fields.
As there are many different types of nursing professionals, there are many different types of nursing qualifications. Each nursing degree is designed to meet the needs and requirements of a particular career in nursing. Nursing schools generally offer the following degrees.
Associate’s Degree in Nursing
An associate’s degree in nursing normally takes two years to complete. It could be obtained from a vocational school or a community college. Besides, it is the minimum requirement if you are planning to become a Registered Nurse. Although, associate’s degree is the minimum requirement for RNs, some employers may ask for a bachelor’s degree to perform different nursing roles.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
A bachelor’s degree of nursing is required for several nursing careers; however, not all nursing careers require this degree. Bachelor of Science in Nursing is normally a four year degree program that could be obtained from a college or university. Similar to other nursing degrees, a bachelor of science in nursing offers classroom instruction as well as practical training. The hands-on training helps students gain experience of working with patients in a clinical environment. Moreover, it is highly recommended that you select an accredited bachelor’s degree.
Master’s Degree in Nursing
To acquire a master’s degree in nursing, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing or in a related field. Although, bachelor’s degree is a pre-requisite for a master’s degree in nursing, there are some combined bachelors/masters programs that do not ask for a bachelor’s degree from students. If you want to become an advanced practice nurse, you will require a master’s degree in nursing. Advanced practice nurses enjoy more clinical authority and generally have a higher income compared to the other registered nurses. Plus, master’s degree in nursing may offer students a certain focus to specialize in fields such as forensic nursing or pediatric nursing.
Doctorate Degree in Nursing
Doctorate level degree is the highest degree you can earn in the field of nursing. To pursue a doctorate degree in nursing, you must first have a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree. There are usually two types of doctorates in nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice and Doctor of Nursing Science. Doctor of Nursing Practice covers the clinical aspects of nursing, while Doctor of Nursing Science is for individuals who wish to become professors and researchers.
Online Nursing School Considerations
You need to consider a number of factors when selecting the right online nursing school. These considerations may vary among prospective students and may be different from traditional campus based schools. However, following are some of the major aspects to consider, before finalizing on a nursing school.
- Specialties: First you will need to select a program and then look for nursing schools offering the program of your choice.
- Size of Nursing School: You may choose between the individual attention received in small nursing schools or the challenging environment of large nursing schools.
- Student to Faculty Ratio: You must find out the student to faculty ratio of a school, particularly for prerequisite courses. Generally, a smaller class is preferred for initial courses and clinical practice.
- Clinical Rotation: It is important for you to know the clinical rotation times, diversity of clinical experiences offered, and the extent of hands-on experience. This information can be best obtained from students already enrolled.
- NCLEX Exam Pass Rates: You can get this data from the nursing school. Ask them to provide you the passing percentage of the last five to ten years. NCLEX exam pass rate is generally a good indicator of the quality of a nursing school.
- Accreditation: Accreditation of the nursing school shows that it meets the standards of education set by the relevant accrediting agency. An accredited nursing school is likely to provide better quality education and career opportunities.
- Tuition Costs and Financial Aid: It is better to make a comparison between the tuition costs of different nursing schools and then find the best possible choice. You may also look for financial aid or scholarships offered by your preferred nursing school.
Nursing Career Outlook and Salary
An accredited online nursing school can be an excellent choice to start a challenging career or enhance your nursing credentials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is likely to grow at a rate of 19 percent between the years 2012 and 2022. The employment growth in nursing is faster than the average of all occupations. Growth in the nursing sector is likely to take place due to the aging population and greater demand for healthcare services. Moreover, BLS states that the median annual wage for registered nurses was $65,470 in May 2012.