Online RN Colleges: How to Choose a School for Registered Nursing
There are degree programs in nursing that prepare students to become a registered nurse. Online associate's degrees can qualify a graduate to earn the RN designation. Those who earn the more extensive Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will qualify for RN positions as well as BSN-level jobs. Finally, master's degree programs are available for nurses looking to advance their career. Most online nursing programs include on-campus or clinical requirements along with distance-learning components.
How to Select an Online Nursing Program
Registered nurses require a minimum of a diploma or associate's degree to sit for the RN exam. There are a variety of associate's, bachelor's and master's online degree programs available. Most professional nurses hold at least an Associate in Nursing degree or a bachelor's degree in nursing. Due to the growing number of specializations and sub-fields in the profession, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends a master's degree for nurses aspiring to management, teaching or administrative positions (www.bls.gov).
Licensing for Nurses
Nurses must be licensed to practice. Online educational programs prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) conducted by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). Some states may require additional tests, so students should check with their respective state about specific license requirements for registered nurses.
Online programs in nursing offer students a variety of enrollment options such as full online immersion, low-residency (hybrid) and self-paced programs. Online immersion programs provide course instruction though e-learning platforms and generally don't require students to attend classes on campus. Students watch lectures though streaming video and participate in class exchange though online chat rooms, message boards and email.
Hybrid programs offer a combination of on-campus and online courses. Students who may need extra time getting comfortable with online technology may benefit from classroom instruction and extra tutoring. A few schools may also offer accelerated or self-paced study options that allow students to complete courses at their chosen pace.
In order to participate in online programs students require fast Internet service. A minimum of 56K modem and enough memory to run software and browser should accommodate the transmission of large media files like video streaming. Students will also need to feel comfortable using the Internet, downloading and accessing important course materials online.They must have regular access to a computer to keep on track with lectures, course updates and online course discussions.
List of Popular Online Nursing Programs
Online Associate Degree in Nursing
Associate degrees in nursing qualify students to take the exam to become entry-level nurses. Students are required to complete 15 credit hours of liberal arts and science requirements that include courses in biology, chemistry and physiology. The remainder of the program focuses on technical knowledge required for medical professionals, such as knowing how to operate medical equipment, administer shots and read medical charts. Due to the high level of hands-on training needed at this level of medical training, most online programs are hybrids that require students to spend some time on campus. Some programs may also require students to complete an internship at a hospital or clinic. Working nurses with an associate's degree who wish to return to school and earn an online bachelors or master's degree often benefit from tuition reimbursement programs often available to though their employer.
Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing Degree
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing offers a competitive edge by giving professional nurses training in human relations, communications, research and administration, skills that are becoming more important as nursing develops into a more complex field. Online bachelor's degree programs provide students with a core of liberal arts, science and math requirements such a microbiology, statistics and history. Upper-level students will focus on practices in nursing such omega strategies, critical care, health promotion & rehabilitation nursing theory.
Students participate in online courses via live streaming video or by following lectures on CD-ROM. They can chat and discuss topics with faculty and classmates through designated chat forums and virtual faculty office hours. A special 30 credit program is available to registered nurses with an associate's degree who are taking courses in order to advance from an RN to the BSN degree.
Online Master of Science in Nursing Degree
An online master's degree offers advanced education for students looking to become nurse practitioners, enter leadership positions in education, management or administration or train in clinical nursing. The online program provides students with a choice of courses in finance, health promotion, disease prevention, nursing administration and management. Students participate online though the blackboard course system where they watch video lectures, reply to announcements and participate in discussions on designated chat forums. Depending on the concentration, a typical courses load may also include classes in legal and ethical issues in health care, and theoretical perspectives in nursing. Online master's degree programs are designed to be completed in 2 years.
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