It is no secret that the nursing profession is the crux of the healthcare industry. These professionals work together with doctors and physicians to offer the best medical services to the patients.
Nurses wear many hats, from performing diagnostic tests to recording patients’ health, monitoring medications, and offering support and advice to the patients. Considering these facts, it’s no wonder that the nursing career is one of the most demanding and lucrative careers in the healthcare industry.
Do you have a passion for helping people in need and bringing significant changes to the world? Then, pursuing a nursing career might be an ideal option for you. Fortunately, due to the high demand for nurses globally, many educational institutes offer online degree programs to students in the present age.
However, with plenty of institutions offering online programs, it might be challenging to choose the right one that can set your career on the right track. Therefore, before getting yourself enrolled in any institution, make sure to consider the following factors:
Almost every nursing program requires students to complete some prerequisites before enrollment, whether on campus or online. Therefore, check for necessary prerequisites for the program you choose to learn. The requirements vary from college to college or depending on the program.
For instance, if you enroll in an online master’s nursing, you might need to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, check if your chosen program requires you to achieve a minimum of CGPA or earn an RN licensure. To be eligible for the program, you might also need to pass some required coursework, such as statistics, biology, English, etc.
You certainly don’t wish to spend your time, money, and efforts on a program that holds no value after completion. Therefore, another critical factor to consider when choosing an online degree program is accreditation.
If the program has accreditation from a reliable Nursing Body, it means your chosen program and institute meet a certain set of high-quality academic standards. Moreover, selecting the accredited program can help you with your employment, license exam, transfer of credits, financial aid, and especially the quality of education.
The two well-known accrediting bodies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Before you decide on your program, make sure to check the overall duration of the program. Like most students, you might wish to complete your education and move forward in your career quickly. Unfortunately, online programs are usually time-consuming.
For example, most online nursing programs typically require students to spend 12-months to two years to complete their degree. Though, many institutes also offer accelerated programs that can help you reduce the length of a degree program. While accelerated programs may look tempting, be mindful; they work best for individuals who can commit more time than regular online programs.
A better strategy is to determine the coursework load you are ready to manage, along with your personal and professional commitments.
Let’s face it; earning a degree is a significant investment for any student, whether online or traditional. Therefore, the cost of the program plays a critical role in decision-making.
Nevertheless, it is advisable not to let this factor stop you from selecting a program. It is to note that paying for a program with accreditation from an authentic accrediting body can open doors for various job opportunities.
Moreover, while looking for affordable degree programs, don’t forget to check financial aid or scholarship options. Most credible institutes offer their students scholarship or federal financial aid options or keep the tuition fees low.
5. Student support
It is equally essential that the academy faculty and administration play their role in supporting you throughout your program.
Picture this; you need to submit an assignment before the clock strikes midnight and the server goes down. Or worse, you are in the middle of the quiz. But your answers aren’t submitted on the portal due to technical faults. Surely, you would feel frustrated.
That is why, while deciding on an online class, make sure to look for the one that has good student support. In addition, you may wish to learn in an environment where you get access to all the student resources. Resources may include IT services, tutoring, access to teachers in case of query, library materials, etc.
5. Format of program
Another essential question you need to consider before enrolling yourself in an online program is the format. The format may vary from program to program.
For example, some programs require students to attend in-person classes one or two days within a week apart from clinical work. There is a high possibility you have work or family commitments and can’t attend these in-person classes. In that case, you must go for programs that are entirely online. However, students still need to complete their clinical requirements at their closest health facility in a fully online program. Furthermore, some institutes offer hybrid or blended programs. In this type of format, students can attend classes both ways; online and on-campus.
Answer this. What’s the point of learning from an institute that doesn’t help its students pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Therefore, make sure to check the license pass rate of the institute you choose. You can only practice and become a registered nurse if you have state licensure.
The license helps employers know that the nurse has enough knowledge, skills, and expertise to practice appropriately and offer the best services to the patients. In addition, the passing rate will help you know how many students attempted the NCLEX exam and passed it.
It’s crucial to select the institution that offers you flexibility. Previously, students would have to attend their on-campus classes after their work shifts. Or sometimes they would have to take a break from their job to continue their education.
However, with online degree programs, students don’t have to worry about such issues and get the best of both worlds. The online programs offer students flexible schedules so they can learn at their pace.
That doesn’t mean online programs aren’t structured. For example, every online program has a specific time to submit projects or assignments and take quizzes and exams. Thus, determine whether the program you are choosing is flexible enough or not?
Also, keep in mind; some nursing institutions offer programs semester-wise while others offer year-round programs. So select the program that provides flexibility and helps you align your education with other commitments.
Undoubtedly, making the right decision for online programs might be tricky or intimidating for many students. Also, with many online nursing programs available, it can become a challenge for students to determine which degree program best suits their needs.
Therefore, prospective students must take into account their current work schedule or family commitments. That way, they can figure out which program will work for them and help them achieve their career goals. After all, the ultimate benefit of an online degree program is the highest level of flexibility it offers to the students.