Thanks to the prevalence of online learning platforms and a growing demand for nurses, online nursing programs are growing in popularity. Like traditional nursing courses, many of these online courses are accredited and can provide the core classes you need in order to get your degree in nursing. However, because so much of nursing is hands-on clinical care, you will need to attend some of your courses in person. In fact, if you’re pursuing your RN (registered nurse) or LPN (licensed practical nurse) degree, even the best online nursing programs can’t offer the full package.
Pros of Online Nursing School
If you have a restricted schedule (due to work, family obligations, or travel considerations), online courses can be the ideal way to get your core curriculum out of the way. Many of these classes are textbook and lecture-based, so if you learn well on your own, you can save both time and money by skipping those trips to campus.
Many nursing programs are highly competitive, and there simply aren’t enough instructors to meet the current nursing demand. Online courses allow more students to access the program at one time, and because everyone works at their own pace, the instructor should be available whenever you need him or her.
Cons of Online Nursing School
Online nursing school only works as hard as you do. Because you are doing so much of the work at home and on your own time, you have to have a high level of self-discipline and drive. Even though the course is more flexible, there are still deadlines and tests.
Online school is also very textbook-based. If you learn best by listening to others speak, asking questions, and seeing demonstrations first-hand, you might not benefit from taking courses this way. Everyone learns differently, and online courses aren’t for everyone.
You also have to do extra homework before you even start classes. The nature of online learning means that it’s all too easy for scam artists and non-accredited schools to make promises they fail to keep. For example, you might spend two years getting your core classes done only to find that the clinical nursing school you want to attend doesn’t recognize that program at all. It’s also vital that you take courses from a school that will make you eligible to sit for the NCLEX exam, since you can’t be a nurse in the United States without a passing score.
In addition to accreditation and NCLEX considerations, there are some states that will not recognize an online nursing program. It’s always best to talk with nurses in your city as well as employers and the potential school to ensure that your education doesn’t go to waste.
Although you can’t get your whole nursing degree online, you can get a lot of the legwork done and out of the way. If done correctly, you can save time, money, and still get a quality education that places you on the front line of the health care industry.