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Why Go Online for Nursing Education?

Many words can describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one rises to the top: digital. With remote work and learning and an unprecedented e-commerce boom, it’s no wonder people have grown savvier about finding online solutions.

While some experts argue an entire year of “living online” was detrimental, there are also many benefits to leveraging the possibilities of the digital environment. For example, an area that has seen rapid growth over the past several years is online nursing education programs — particularly for registered nurses (RNs) working towards their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, like the online program offered by Northeastern State University.

Hundreds of nursing programs are available across the United States, and many offer at least a partial online component. However, some RN to BSN programs in the U.S. are 100% online, with no in-classroom attendance required.

Why Are Online Programs Growing?

A gap between supply and demand has created a widespread call for highly trained nurses, leading to the growing popularity of online RN to BSN programs.

The healthcare industry is glaringly aware of the nursing shortage. Data from the Bureau of Health Workforce database shows that in all 50 states, the average number of nurses per 1,000 individuals is only 12.06. South Carolina has the fewest nurses per 1,000 people at only 7.89. The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized that the U.S. does not have enough nurses.

According to Indeed, RN is one of the most in-demand jobs in the U.S., with no signs of slowing down. Yet, there’s a gap between available nursing jobs and the number of RNs graduating. In 2022, McKinsey estimated that by 2025, there may be a shortage of 10-20%, as many as 450,000, of nurses available for patient care.

The demand for more BSN-prepared nurses has also boosted the availability of online nursing programs. The well-known 2010 “Future of Nursing” report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recommended increasing the number of RNs with BSN degrees from 61% to 80% by 2020. While that didn’t quite come to fruition, efforts to reach 80% by 2029 continue.

Advantages of Online RN to BSN Programs

Many nurses continue working full time while completing their online nursing degree. Others may earn their degree while working part-time. In fact, online RN to BSN programs often have very affordable tuition rates, making it possible to achieve a good work-life balance. The RN to BSN online program at Northeastern can be completed in as few as 10 months and has multiple start dates throughout the year.

Online-only curricula serve RNs who live in areas around the country. Thanks to the number of online options available, nurses residing in small communities or remote areas can still further their education. Plus, nurses don’t have to navigate the online learning experience alone. Many programs have solid student support services. Staff and administration will answer the call when they need help or have questions.

Online nursing programs provide foundational educational experiences for all aspiring nurses as they grow in quality and availability. If the overwhelming thought of returning to school has prevented you from advancing your career, these developments in online nursing education may give you a reason to reconsider.

Learn more about Northeastern State University’s online RN to BSN program.

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