Get an Online Nursing Degree

As more and more nursing positions become available, students are looking for ways to become registered nurses. Accredited universities and colleges are moving a large amount of classes towards online components as students’ home and work lives get busier. While online classes can allow students to view lectures and assignments in their own time, there are some aspects of online nursing degrees that have to be completed in person. Online nursing degree programs can only be completed when the clinical practice is met as well as educational requirements, after which the graduate can take the NCLEX-RN examination to become a registered nurse. The NCLEX-RN, or National Licensing Examination for Registered Nursing, is one of the final steps for graduates to become licensed RNs.

Understanding Registered Nurses

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who provides emotional, physical, and educational support to patients and families. RNs monitor patient’s’ symptoms, aid in rehabilitation and checkups, as well as perform diagnostic tests. As registered nurses advance their education, they can take on administration, management, research, or developmental roles to advance their career.

Registered nurses generally work on a team of other healthcare professionals, sometimes supervising licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or other assistive professionals. While the job is high in stress and responsibility, many RNs feel extremely satisfied with the difference they are able to make in other people’s lives.

RN Online Pathways

There are several paths for students to complete an online nursing degree. In addition to completing a diploma program, RN students must gain clinical experience by working in a healthcare facility to meet graduation requirements. After students have graduated from their program, they must complete the NCLEX-RN exam to become certified registered nurses.

Of the possible diploma programs, nursing students must earn at least an Associate’s Degree. However, RNs with a Bachelor’s Degree have many more career and salary opportunities in the work force, as the additional 2 years of study adds valuable experience and understanding. The benefits of online nursing degrees include the flexibility to hold a job in a healthcare facility while earning your degree; students can gain the necessary clinical experience while having the freedom to learn on their own time.

Career Change Pathways

Some students have already earned a degree in a different field, but they have decided to switch their career to nursing. Most community colleges have accelerated or bridge courses that provide graduates a way to earn another degree faster. These programs usually take about a year to complete, but many are completely online, allowing students the freedom to continue working through school.

In addition, students who are currently licensed practical nurses (LPNs), can further their education with a LPN to RN bridge path. By returning to school to gain an Associate’s or Bachelor’s, LPN nurses can expand their career options to positions in management or supervisory professionals.

After the Online Nursing Degree

Once students have completed the necessary degree path, students must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed registered nurses. Licensing requirements vary depending on the student’s state, but the NCLEX-RN generally covers topics on psychosocial integrity, health promotion, infection control, physiological integrity, and fundamental nursing skills. However, RN licensure is generally only valid in the state it was issued.

Further Education

As students’ careers progress, their education needs will expand. Registered nurses can always return to school to further their education to a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or even Doctorate’s Degree. The further students take their education, the more opportunities they will have. In addition, students of higher education backgrounds will be able to expand their specialty skills to show mastery in specific areas. Nursing students can get certificates of mastery in subjects that will open jobs as clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, midwives, or nurse practitioners. Students can pursue whatever subject they are passionate about, increasing their skills and qualifications as they progress their careers.

The Future of Registered Nurses

The field of nursing is constantly growing, and the job outlook for RNs has been on an accelerated rise. After the Affordable Care Act and the retiring baby boomer generation, many new patients are entering the healthcare system and require care.

Online nursing degrees are a great option for students who want to begin the nurse career pathway but are overwhelmed by a current job or situation. In addition, online courses are helpful for current RNs or LPNs who want to expand their education while continuing to work in their health care job, gaining practical experience as they study. Whenever you examine possible online nursing degrees, keep in mind the criteria you need to be successful as a nursing student and future licensed nurse.

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