Online classes offer flexible path to hot jobs in nursing.
By Yahoo Education Staff
The numbers are in: Nursing is the hot job of the decade.
In its latest projections, the U.S. Department of Labor has estimated that nearly 600,000 new registered nurse (RN) jobs will be created by 2018 - more than any other individual job.
With an average salary of $65,130 per year, nursing jobs look better and better.
If you've thought about becoming a nurse or taking the next step in your current nursing career, there's no better time than now.
Online nursing programs make it possible to get a quality nursing education on your schedule. These programs give you the flexibility to maintain your current job or family commitments while working toward a new career.
To help you decide if an online nursing program is for you, we've compiled answers to some of the most common questions about these programs.
Q: What nursing degrees are available online?
A: Here are some of the most common online nursing programs:
* Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs
The ADN is a two-year program that prepares students to take the national licensing exam to become a registered nurse. Because of the need for hands-on training, online associate's degree programs are rare, but they do exist, and are usually offered in association with community colleges. *"Students in an online ADN program complete their clinical rotations at the same site as their counterparts in the campus-based programs," says Dr. Gail Baumlein, director of online programs for Chamberlain College of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio. "They have the same clinical requirements as on-site students," Dr. Baumlein explains, and all clinical work is arranged by the school. * These programs are the most common way for people with no prior nursing experience to start their careers in nursing. * RN-to-BSN Bridge Programs
These programs are for RNs who already have an associate's degree or nursing certificate and want to receive their bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).
A BSN is often required for job and academic advancement. The curriculum is the same as campus-based programs and focuses on leadership and management skills, health education, and advanced science classes. * Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs
An MSN is required for a number of nursing specialties like nurse practitioner and, in some states, nurse midwife. It is also a common academic choice for many nurses who want to go into education or administration.
Online MSN programs usually take a year or more to complete, depending on the number of classes taken. The curriculum varies by specialty, but most online MSN students study leadership and management, health education, and advanced science and statistics.
Find the right online Nursing program for you.
Q: How do online nursing classes work?
A: In most cases, online nursing classes don't take place at a certain time. Instead, lectures (either video- or text-based) and additional reading material or assignments are posted for each "class session" and students are required respond to or discuss the lecture on a class message board. Occasionally an instructor may require students to log on at a specific time for a live chat, but most of the time all class interaction is done at your convenience.
Q: How do assignments and exams work?
A: Just like traditional campus-based programs, online nursing program assignments have due dates. But instead of turning in assignments in-person, students post their assignments to the class site or email them to the instructor. If exams are required, they can be taken online or, in a few cases, in person at a local facility.
Q: What equipment do I need?
A: Most online nursing programs simply require a computer with Internet access and an email account… that's it! Note: Some programs may have additional software or equipment requirements, so be sure to do your homework when selecting an online nursing program.
Q: How is clinical work done?
A: For practicing nurses studying for an advanced degree, classes are typically all that's needed. If clinical work is necessary, students can either fulfill the requirement at the school's local campus if it's nearby or at a facility near the student's home that's affiliated with the online program.
Tip: When you're choosing a school, make sure to ask if clinical work is required and if there's a facility near you.
Search for online Nursing schools.
Q: How much interaction do online nursing students have with faculty and each other?
A: Online nursing programs require students to participate as much as, if not more than, traditional campus-based programs. In fact, according to Dr. Pam Fuller, dean of the college of nursing at the University of Phoenix, the school's faculty members report that they communicate with their online students more often than with students they see in person.
Q: How much do online nursing programs cost?
A: The cost varies from program to program, but is typically between $100 and $300 per credit. While each program and degree has different credit requirements, RN-to-BSN and MSN programs typically require about 30 credits.
Q: Is there financial aid for online nursing programs?
A: Yes. You can apply for financial aid for an online degree from an accredited school just as if you were in a campus-based program. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid to determine which federal grants and loans you qualify for.
In addition, because of the nationwide nursing shortage, there are several federal loan forgiveness programs, including one through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which might help you eliminate some debt once your degree is complete.
Online nursing schools have financial aid offices that can guide you through the financial aid process.
Q: Is an online nursing degree a "real" degree?
A: Absolutely! A nursing degree from an accredited institution, whether campus-based or online, represents the same achievement by the student. Those responsible for hiring nurses are well aware of the high quality of online programs.
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