If you’re a new student or a registered nurse trying to further their education, then the option of going for an online program might seem tempting. This could be a great way for you to learn from the comfort of your home on flexible hours and give you access to better pay, positions, and advancement within your organization. Online degrees are viewed in a very favorable light by employers these days, as long as they’re from a reputable institution. Before you decide to pursue your nursing education online, here are a few things you should know first.
Why get an Online Nursing Degree?
According to the American Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for nurses countrywide is booming at the moment. And nurses are needed at every level as well, which pushes more organizations to encourage nurses to pursue their education. There are many reasons why nursing degrees can be beneficial. While a large portion of the program will be taken online, you will have to be there in person in order to get the formation needed.
Online nursing programs allow nurses to continue their education while still working. It also allows them to specialize in different fields like midwifery, for instance, which offer great job prospects. Registered nurses count for a large portion of enrolled students for this reason. Another reason why getting an online nursing degree can be so beneficial is that online programs are highly regarded these days thanks to rigorous accreditation.
Accreditation is Everything
Before you decide to enroll in any program, you have to make sure that their program is properly accredited by a respected accrediting body. Accreditation means that the program has been validated by an independent organization for its rigor and quality.
Baylor University’s baccalaureate degree program in nursing, online nursing masters programs, and Doctor of Nursing Practice program, for instance, have all been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. This not only ensures that their program will be rigorous and competitive but will also ensure that your degree will be recognized by most healthcare organizations.
Employers Take Accreditation Very Seriously
Accreditation will be the first thing employers will verify when it comes to the validity of your degree. Among all accrediting organizations, the Education Department determined that the ACEN and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education were reliable authorities that could be trusted to test the validity of online programs.
Accreditation is viewed as a mark of quality and having a degree from an online program that was accredited by one of these two bodies will put you on equal footing with any other applicant. In addition to accreditation, however, employers will also take a look at the institution and how well rated their program is. So, it’s very important that you check how well rated their nursing program is in your state before you enroll.
The CCNE and ACEN use Additional Criteria for Online Programs
Whether it’s an online program or a traditional one, these accrediting bodies will use the same criteria to judge both at the base level. This is why accreditation is so important if you want your degree to be recognized. However, they will use additional criteria that apply especially to online education. For instance, they will evaluate if the teachers are actually qualified to teach online. This will ensure that teachers are able to adapt their teaching and communication style for online students.
What to Expect from Online Courses
Before you enroll, you have to be prepared for the reality of getting your degree online. First, you have to make sure that you have enough self-discipline and concentration to work completely on your own for full hours. Some will actually prefer the independence that online programs offer, so if you’re more of a reserved person, then this might be the best option for you.
One great thing about online programs is that your teachers will often be much more accessible online. So, if you’re stumped about a particular aspect, they’ll be able to give you assistance much faster in many cases. And since you’ll still be spending significant time in clinical hours, you’ll get as complete a formation as any other nursing student.
Online nursing programs can be a great way to start your nursing education or add a few feathers to your cap if you’re a registered nurse. Whatever you do, make sure that you go with a highly rated and accredited program and see if online nursing is the best option for your nursing career.