Online Degrees in Nursing
As the largest occupation in the growing health care field, employment for nurses is expected to be excellent in the coming years. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), overall job growth for registered nurses is projected to be 22 percent between 2008 and 2018. Job growth is expected to be even higher for certain categories of nurses. For example, the need for registered nurses in physician offices is expected to rise 48 percent during this period. However, as medicine advances, job prospects should be best for nurses with advanced education and expertise.
The American Nurses Association (ANA) identifies three paths to becoming a nurse:
- A two-year Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- A four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- A hospital-based nursing diploma program that often spans three years
While diplomas previously were the most common way for individuals to enter the nursing field, ADNs are now the most popular route, the ANA reports.
The ANA and BLS indicate that many nurses who originally opt for an ADN eventually go back to school to receive a BSN. Master's and doctoral degree programs are also available for those who want to advance their education -- and in turn, careers.
The main advantages of a BSN or graduate degree compared to an ADN are increased opportunities for promotion and the ability to work at the managerial level. A master's degree in nursing is needed to become an advanced practice nurse, and a doctoral degree is often necessary for those wishing to teach nursing at colleges and universities.
Online degrees in nursing offer an ideal way for working nurses to advance their credentials, but students should be aware that not all nursing programs are available online. Generally speaking, online degrees in nursing are geared toward registered nurses or licensed practical nurses who wish to earn a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, though continuing education coursework and "bridge" programs are also common.
Clinical experience is an integral part of learning the essentials of nursing. For those entering the field for the first time, hands-on instruction from experienced teachers is required by most states. This requirement makes a fully online ADN program impossible in many areas, but hybrid options are often available. In these programs, courses such as anatomy, chemistry and nutrition can be completed online and the clinical experience component is completed through on-campus coursework or an externship.
Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses who are pursuing higher education can use their current employment as the basis for the clinical experience needed by degree programs. Online degrees in nursing at this level may rely on message boards and forums to allow students to collaborate with one another as well as facilitate communication with professors. Before enrolling in any program, determine how clinical requirements will be met and look for a program approved by the state as well as industry organizations such as the National League of Nursing.
The first step toward starting a career in nursing is to become licensed by the state. To become licensed, students must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass a national licensing examination.
BLS statistics show that 2.6 million registered nurses were working in the United States in 2008. Of these, 60 percent were employed in hospitals. Physician offices, nursing care facilities and government agencies are among the other major employers of nurses. Nurses who plan to specialize in areas such as pediatrics, gerontology and ambulatory care can receive voluntary credentials from industry associations that may boost their employment opportunities. These credentials are often restricted to nurses with a BSN or higher.
Since nursing requires ongoing education, individuals interested in this occupation should have a love of learning. Compassion and empathy are also important traits for anyone in the health care field. Finally, nurses need to be responsible, well-organized and detail oriented.
- A 2010 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found 65 percent of new BSN grads received job offers by the time they graduated.
- Registered nurses earned a mean annual wage of $67,720 in 2010 according to the BLS.
- The metro area with the highest concentration of registered nurses is Rochester, Minnesota with 67.212 nurses per 1,000 workers.
Online Degree Programs in Nursing
At University of Phoenix, we believe everyone deserves access to higher education.
Capella courses focus on real-world application, so you’ll gain skills and knowledge you can apply right away.
Why ASU? At ASU, learning online is effective, flexible and smart. Every program delivered online is developed by the same excellent faculty who teach on our campuses, and is designed to engage students and professors in meaningful ways. The result? Our students are an integral part of a New American University.
- Nursing RN to BSN
Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.
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Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the same curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same degree, quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.