The convenience of distance learning has inspired many aspiring nurses to get a degree in nursing online, but this is only possible for those nurses pursuing advanced education beyond their first two years of study. Nursing is a profession that requires hands-on experience in both real and simulated situations that test a nurse’s resolve as well as her knowledge about patient care and treatment of common issues. For this reason, existing and aspiring nurses have more limited options when it comes to distance education in their field. With that said, there are still some promising degrees available if nurses are willing to blend offline and online instruction.
RN-to-BSN Programs Open the Door to Distance Education
After two years of study at a community college or specialized nursing school, those students who wish to enter the profession will be prepared to take the NCLEX examination and become a Registered Nurse. At the same time, they’ll graduate with a two-year degree in nursing and be properly credentialed for entry-level work in this field. For many nurses, however, the possession of only a two-year degree can put up barriers to career advancement over the long-term. Many nurses therefore seek a bachelor’s degree in their field as a way to maximize career prospects.
Online RN-to-BSN programs are extremely popular, since they allow nurses to further their education with little to no offline residencies required. These programs are open only to nurses who have completed a two-year degree, passed the NCLEX exam, and secured an entry-level job in their field. Others will have to opt for offline BSN programs instead. The online format allows nurses to share experiences through collaborative projects and discussion boards, further their understanding of human behavior and anatomy, and learn more about the nursing profession in a patient-centered context. With 60 additional credits on top of their two-year degree, nurses will be able to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, according to the US News and World Report.
Master of Science in Nursing Programs
Just like the four-year nursing degree, a Master of Science in Nursing can also open doors for career advancement. This degree allows nurses to move into managerial and advising roles within a larger healthcare organization, and it’s typically pursued by nurses who have at least five years of professional job experience after earning the BSN degree. The program is often taught entirely online, though some programs do require residencies on-campus or at a local hospital.
The MSN degree is highly competitive. Nurses generally need to take the MAT exam prior to submitting their application, though many schools allow applicants to submit GRE scores as well. Prepare to submit professional references and a resume, as well as an application essay, as part of the admissions process. Though highly competitive, nurses will find the accelerated MSN program to be accelerated, rigorous, and beneficial over the long-term.
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Limited Options for Online Education are Growing Every Year
The hands-on nature of nursing makes it hard to learn the entire profession online, and this has resulted in a smaller pool of available online programs for those in the nursing field. Even so, the programs that do exist are growing in enrollment with each successive year. New programs are being launched by established nursing school practically each semester, giving nurses an innovative way to get either a partial four-year or graduate degree in nursing online.