One of the best nursing school options for working professionals, busy parents, and students who are looking for a little more flexibility out of their education is the online nursing course.
The online learning format, which allows you to take at least part of your classes from the comfort of your own home, is a growing trend in the college community. It not only allows students to work at their own pace and according to their own schedule, but it also means that you can access great schools and teachers from a long distance.
In the nursing field, this means you can either take a large number of core classes to work toward a nursing degree or even complete an entire graduate degree that builds on top of an existing nursing degree or license.
The Online Learning Format
Of course, learning at home or at work from your computer is a very different experience than sitting in a classroom or lecture hall. Depending on your learning style and how well you work as a self-motivator, this may or may not be the program for you. Here’s how the online nursing courses differ from more traditional options.
Internet access is a must: In most cases, the online nursing class will be hosted either through the school’s website or on a website of its own. This will become an interactive place where assignments are posted, discussions held, and chat sessions set up. In order to participate, you will need regular and reliable access to the Internet.
No face-to-face interaction: When you take a class in person, you are able to see and talk to your instructor on an almost daily basis. From lectures and question-and-answer sessions to after-class office hours, you can get the personalized attention you need to do your best in class. In the online learning format, your only access to the instructor is via email or through online discussion boards. For some people, this works great, since you post your question in the early hours of the morning, get back to your daily life, and return home to find the answers you need. For others, it might be a struggle. It’s up to you to know how you learn best.
Reading lectures vs. hearing lectures: In a traditional classroom setting, your learning comes from a combination of lectures and textbook reading. Unless you have a video classroom setup for your course, the online work will be almost all textbook and self-directed reading. Although your instructor may create great notes and lecture outlines, you will need to do most of the learning on your own.
Clinicals must still be completed: Regardless of which school you attend, clinical experience will be part of your nursing education. For online programs, this may mean that you have to work with a local affiliated medical facility or even commute to the school’s facilities a few days a week. There is no better way to learn nursing than through hands-on training, so this component remains the same.
Tests and homework still apply: You will most likely have assignments and papers with regular due dates, as well as tests that may occur either on your own time or during a designated online session. You will be responsible for completing all of the work just as you would in a regular classroom setting.
Regardless of what type of nursing school format you choose, make sure you go through the same process of research and selection. Many great online nursing schools carry the same accreditation and reputation as more traditional schools, but with greater flexibility and different costs. Take your time to find the right school, and you could be graduating with your nursing degree in as little as two to four years.