One of the hottest, in-demand fields in the coming decade will be for registered nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts there will be over 587,000 new jobs created in a field that already has over 2.5 million workers. Employment opportunities in the largest health care occupation will grow primarily in areas other than the traditional hospital mode, as technology changes the way care is delivered to patients and the emphasis moves to a preventive care environment.
Registered nurses jobs will be needed in out-patient surgery centers, chemotherapy treatment centers, rehabilitation clinics and in-home care capacities. This rapid job creation of over 20% has fueled an over-capacity traditional education system for nurses and developed the need for more students to earn nursing degrees online.
Earning an Online Nursing Degree
Many people wonder how a nurse can study and receive their degree entirely online when nursing programs necessitate earning clinical credits. While each online nursing school offers their own individualized nursing programs, specializations and concentrations, many online students are already working in the field and have their clinical certifications. For new students, the clinical portions of their studies are completed with a local affiliate of their online nursing school. While this is a popular question, the fulfilling of the clinical studies should be discussed thoroughly with the online school counselor before admission to be certain a convenient local preceptor at a facility near them is available to complete the clinical portion of their degrees.
There are many benefits to studying for a nursing degree online:
- Many students choose to continue working while studying and e-learning allows the flexibility to do this by offering studies that can completed 24/7.
- Coursework can completed at your own pace, without disrupting work or family life. Students may download the coursework to read or watch a video lecture in the convenience of their own home or during their lunch hour at work. If the work is difficult for the student, they may simply go over it again to understand it more thoroughly or fast forward through it if the work is very easy for them.
- Another reason students choose to study nursing online is the cheaper tuition cost, particularly since many programs do not charge out of state tuition. The cost can be as much as 30 to 50% cheaper than class-based programs. While credit cost varies by school, expect to pay between $100 and $200 per hour.
- Online students also benefit from easier access to instructors and academic counselors than most campus-based students, who traditionally have to meet with professors at set office times during the week. Online students mainly interact by posting questions via email, texting, virtual chat rooms, bulletin boards, live chat, webinars and many other innovative support technologies evolving every day. School advisers at most online nursing schools work closely with the students to plan the curriculum to best suit the student's schedule, assist with applications, tuition reimbursement paperwork, tuition assistance, scholarships and career planning.
Online RN to Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN Online)
The most popular online nursing programs include the nurse practitioner programs, RN to Bachelor's of Science in nursing (BSN) and the RN to Master's of Science in nursing (MSN). One hallmark of the online accredited nursing program is the elimination of the need to test and verify prior nursing knowledge. Working nurses can simply study to advance and improve their career skills without worrying about restudying what they already passed on the NCLEX exam to get their RN license.
The RN to BSN online programs are designed to further professional knowledge and skills of registered nurses. Curriculums are based on studying biological, physical, and social sciences which are the foundation of the science of nursing. The liberal arts coursework furthers the intellectual, social and cultural aspects of professional nursing careers. Many challenging and more financially rewarding positions in nursing demand the bachelor's degree, making this program the most popular of the online nursing degrees.
Second Degree BSN
Some nursing students already have a bachelor's degree in another subject when they decide to pursue a nursing career. The Second Degree to BSN programs is geared specifically for non-nurses who need to complete their nursing credits. These programs are designed to give credit for having completed the liberal arts portion of the BSN degrees and concentrate on the science portions. Most students can earn the second degree in approximately two years.
Many online programs are designed to get nursing students get out in the field in as little as 12 months. In addition to giving you credit for the liberal arts portion of the bachelor's degrees, these programs often also credit life experience and condense the time necessary to complete the program when compared to traditional coursework.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Graduate degrees in nursing are 18-24 month programs that enable students to specialize in areas such as advanced clinical training or research. Some students combine this degree with advanced studies in business, finance, public administration or hospital administration. Most students already have a BSN degree when studying for their master's but there are combined programs that allow students to reduce their study time by doing the degrees back to back. Students pursing a graduate degree can also come from a RN background where they may want to choose options for an accelerated program to get their masters. Additionally, students may come from a non-nursing background with a bachelor's degree in another subject such as life sciences. These students can search for Direct Entry MSN programs to suit their needs.
Earnings Outlook for Nurses
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for registered nurses in May 2006 was $57,280, with the lowest ten percent earning less than $40,250 and the highest 10 percent earning more than $83,440. RNs can earn approximately $15,000 more per year then their Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) counterparts. If an LPN has 15 years more to work, spending 12 months online to get their bachelor's degree would translate into over $225,000 more income before they retired! It's obviously worth it to get your degree online!