As a working nurse, your schedule is already tight. Whether you’re working in a clinic, a hospital, or another setting, you’re likely coordinating your at-home responsibilities, social life and more around long shifts. Even when you love your career and are excited to progress forward it can be hard to imagine how you’ll balance going back to school among all your other commitments and responsibilities. Fortunately, attending nursing school online has become a viable and respected option for pursuing a higher degree, building new skills and taking your career to the next level. An online nursing degree offers a number of advantages over traditional classroom-based learning, making it the right choice for many nurses.
Benefits to earning a nursing degree online
For starters, online nursing programs are more flexible and convenient than traditional ones. Nurses can study at their own pace and around their own schedules, which is ideal for working professionals. Additionally, online learning is often more affordable than traditional classroom-based learning, as there are no extra costs for travel or accommodation. Online nursing programs also provide students with access to the latest nursing research and technology. Nurses who learn online have the opportunity to stay up-to-date with the latest advances in their field, which can make them better equipped to provide quality patient care.
Reasons to consider earning an online nursing degree:
1. Nurses are constantly on the go and don't always have time to attend traditional in-person classes
2. Online nursing programs offer a variety of specializations and concentrations that aren't available at brick-and-mortar schools
3. Students can learn at their own pace and take as much or as little time as they need to complete their courses
4. Most online nursing programs are accredited, which means they meet the same high standards as traditional schools
5. Online learning is more affordable than traditional education, especially when you factor in transportation, childcare, and other associated costs
Online nursing programs have been especially crucial for providing education to nurses in rural areas where there might not be an accredited school nearby. With an online nursing degree, nurses can gain the education they need to further their careers without sacrificing flexibility or affordability.
Are online nursing programs respected?
While you might be sold on the benefits of an online nursing degree for your career, it’s understandable that you still might be concerned about how hiring committees will perceive your degree. But don’t worry, online degrees are increasingly common across disciplines including nursing.
In one sweep the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the delicately balanced role of healthcare workers and demonstrated their need for persistent support and rest. It also forced academic institutions to recognize the importance of having virtual options for their students that were just as effective as traditional options. Distance learning was already a staple of nursing education pre-pandemic, for example, in 2016 the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) reported that more than 50 percent of RN-to-BSN programs were offered completely online, and most others offered significant online coursework.1 The pandemic only encouraged investment into technology and resources for online programs.
With the number of nurses who now attend school for one degree or another online, it won’t be alarming for your employer or interviewer to find out that you also chose the flexibility of an online degree, they may have even pursued their own BSN or MSN online. The pieces that your next employer might hone in on, however, are your clinical skills and soft skills like communication, collaboration and patient interaction. If you completed your RN in a traditional capacity and have some years of experience going into your post-licensure degree program, it shouldn’t be much of an issue. Just make sure to have concrete examples to share from on-the-job experiences that demonstrate your “people skills.”
Also note: your diploma from an online program most likely won’t even have the word “online” on it. While you can simply put the name of your issuing institution on your resume, it’s best to be straight up with your interviewer, after all they’re looking for employees who are skilled and honest.
How to find a credible online nursing program
Choosing an online nursing school can be a daunting task, especially if you are not sure what you are looking for. It’s important to do your research and get a feel for the faculty and the program. To begin your search, seek out an online nursing degree program that’s developed by a trusted source, such as a school that also has an on-ground option. Not only will that provide you with a better assessment of the program’s rankings and outcomes, but that way you know there’s a full institution supporting your program and your success as a student.
When looking at online nursing schools consider the following:
- Is the program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)?
- Is the program recognized by the nursing board of the state in which it is located?
- If you’re thinking about pursuing a program that’s in another state, is the program, and your state, a member of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA)?
- If you’re thinking about an MSN, does the program have comprehensive specializations that align with your interests and career goals?
- Are there nursing faculty members with careers, research interests or experiences you are interested in learning from?
Once you have narrowed down your choices, it is time to speak with admissions counselors. They can provide valuable insight into the curriculum, clinical experiences, and job placement rates.
Where can you get a nursing degree online?
If you want to learn online with the best, choose Oklahoma City University (OCU). OCU is ranked No. 1 for nursing colleges in Oklahoma and is fully accredited by the ACEN, the Oklahoma Board of Nursing and is a member of SARA. OCU offers RN-BSN, MSN and RN-MSN programs 100% online, delivered asynchronously, so you can complete your degree on your schedule without traditional clinical requirements. Plus, there’s no wait list.
At OCU, we prize our ability to build community and foster a welcoming learning environment. Our faculty are eager to engage with their students and lend their expertise to mentorship within and beyond academic settings. Schedule a call with an Admissions Advisor to learn more about the Oklahoma City University online nursing programs and get started on your application.