For nurses who are working full time and interested in earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, there are often only a few educational pathways that accommodate existing employment and family schedules. The convenience and flexibility of an online RN to BSN program assists nurses in advancing their careers while still gaining valuable experience in the workplace.
How Is Online Learning Convenient for Nurses?
Online nursing programs are designed with busy adult learners in mind. According to the 2015-2016 Biennial Survey of Schools of Nursing conducted by the National League for Nursing (NLN), more than 85 percent of nurses enrolled in an RN to BSN program were over the age of 25. Since these nurses are likely to have work and family commitments, convenience and flexibility are key.
The accelerated timeline of many online programs leads to degree completion in as few as 10 months, which allows nurses to pursue other interests and access career advancement opportunities much sooner.
The online format also eliminates virtually all scheduling conflicts since assignments and classroom participation occur through the dedicated online portal. With only a computer and an internet connection, you can complete coursework around your existing schedule. This provides a practical solution for nurses who are employed, raising children or unable to travel to campus regularly.
Online learning is an increasingly affordable option as well. Not only are nurses able to remain employed to help cover tuition costs, but they may also retain access to employer-sponsored tuition reimbursement benefits. As their popularity has grown, online degree programs have become more economical, which allows nurses to maintain financial flexibility.
What Else Should Nurses Look for in an Online Program?
The convenience and flexibility of online degree programs is a huge draw for nurses trying to successfully balance work, family life and other personal and professional commitments. In addition to a format meeting these criteria, nurses should seek an online RN to BSN program with the following qualities:
Accreditation. An accredited nursing program meets or exceeds rigorous educational standards outlined by an independent accrediting body. Enrolling in such a program should be a key consideration for nurses when selecting an online degree program. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are two examples of nationwide accrediting institutions.
Most employers — 79.6 percent according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) — strongly prefer hiring BSN-prepared nurses. In addition, many employers will either require or express a preference for nursing candidates who graduated from an accredited degree program as a way to ensure the overall quality of the education received.
Nurses who plan to pursue education beyond a bachelor’s, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, will benefit from enrolling in an accredited program. Also, credits are more likely to transfer to another university, saving students both time and money.
Hands-on experiences. Although the program is conducted online, gaining hands-on experience is critical. Look for programs that include a professional practicum or collaboration with a preceptor; these represent valuable opportunities to put knowledge and theory into real-world practice.
Flexibility That Matters
Nurses no longer have to choose between advancing their education and maintaining gainful employment. With an online RN to BSN program — particularly one that is accredited and offers access to hands-on experiences — working nurses will get the convenience and flexibility they need while also forging pathways to new career opportunities.
Learn more about the NSU online RN to BSN program.