Online education is becoming very popular, especially due to the pandemic that restricted everyone to their homes. All institutions were closed for adhering to social distancing measures. Therefore, the online mode of education was the only hope for restoring the declining educational standards and salvaging the education and training industry.
Just like other fields, clinical nurse educator is becoming very popular. Online nursing degrees have been beneficial for nurses who wanted to advance their qualifications but could not leave their work in the hospital. These online degrees have the same coursework expectations as their on-campus counterparts. But they give more flexibility and autonomy to the new and professional nurses. Once these nurses complete their course work, they need to work in a hospital, clinic, or other healthcare facilities to complete their clinical hours. But there are many things that one must know when they decide to enroll in an online nursing program.
- Specializations available in online nursing programs
Nursing is a vast field, and unlike in the past, there are specialized areas of practice available for nurses. However, you have to ensure that your chosen area of specialization is available when opting for an online nursing degree. Some domains are more practice-oriented than others, so they may not be available when you opt for an online degree. So, this point is crucial to consider when preferring online education, lest you don’t get a chance to hone your skills in your favorite area of practice.
Many nurses opt for online education because they intend to gain certification in a particular area. Some degrees such as an online master’s in nursing administration and family nurse practitioner degrees are very popular. These degrees prepare you to assume the roles of a nurse manager and a family nurse practitioner, respectively. But make sure your chosen school offers these specializations.
- Working of an online nursing program
You might also want to know how an online nursing program works. Is it different from an on-campus program, or is the quality of education similar? Well, in online education, lectures are delivered remotely, which you can attend from the comfort of your house. Meetings are held through a digital platform. Professors conduct assignments and exams online and upload homework on a portal that automatically rates your work. You might need to attend online classes at a designated time or get a recorded version that you watch even in the middle of the night.
You will have peers residing in another part of the country or even a different country altogether. Hence, you have a network of peers not restricted by geographical boundaries. The online mode of education has the same curriculum as any other program offered on the campus. The curriculum covers nursing theories and concepts, direct patient care, leadership and healthcare systems, and vulnerable population and communities. With this course work, nurses get a strong foundation in the history of nursing and ethical practices and principles of nursing. You will also get a thorough understanding of patient care.
- Connecting with your advisor and instructor
Traditionally, you had to attend a class physically where you meet your instructor every day. But what about online education? How will you connect with your supervisor? What will you do when you are stuck on a difficult concept? Well, these are just a few of the questions that you might have when it comes to contacting your instructor in online education. Some people also worry that due to the virtual nature of the program, they may not have meaningful interaction with their instructors. Good nursing schools avoid this problem and ensure that students get help whenever they need it. Faculty members often develop a channel of communication to contact the students. Quality nursing schools have dedicated advisors who are always available to answer the queries within the stipulated work time.
- Need for going to the campus
Some people assume that there is no need to go to the campus to take an online course. But in reality, it varies based on programs. Some people working full-time with family responsibilities to attend to may want to have their entire coursework online. They may not have time to participate in on-campus classes, even for a couple of days every week. However, those with fewer responsibilities may be more inclined to attend classroom-based lectures and interact with peers and instructors. But even if you choose an online education model, it is important to stay in contact with your peers, be active on discussion forums, and connect with your advisors. The nursing study cannot happen in a silo; interacting with peers and teachers gives you valuable insight. You can even discuss real-life problems in the discussion forums and let others learn from your experience.
- Completing your nursing degree at your own pace
This might be what many of you want to know; can you complete your nursing degree at your own pace? The answer is yes, you can! Many nursing schools maintain the same schedule in the online degrees as they do in on-campus programs. But others may allow you to schedule your nursing degree with their year-round programs. Apart from that, there are “bridge” nursing programs that will enable the nurses to fast-track their advanced degree qualification. You don’t have to repeat the coursework you have already completed in these programs.
- Things to look for in an online nursing program
When you choose a particular nursing program, the first thing you need to check is if the state board has approved the program. This is the board that licenses the nurses after completing their education. If the online program is not approved, you may not get the license to practice. You won’t be eligible to even appear in the state licensing exam.
Another thing you must consider is the accreditation of the program. Accreditation means that your chosen program meets the mandated education standards that ensure a nurse’s eligibility to practice. Accreditation may not be necessary for taking the state exam in some states, but your employer may be more inclined to hire nurses who earned a degree program from an accredited institution.
There is much to contemplate when choosing an online nursing degree. If you have family and kids to manage along with work, make sure to enroll in a program where you can set your own pace. Moreover, if you prefer frequent interactions with your advisor, choosing a hybrid program where some on-campus classes are also needed may work for you more.