There is a shortage of nurses in the U.S; even more so, there is a shortage of advanced nurses who specialize in a particular field such as family practice, midwifery or anesthetics.
Why is this?
Arguably, the main reason is that nurses believe they do not have the time, money or even the level of expertise to undertake the necessary courses to progress in their preferred advanced nursing role.
They feel they are not getting enough support from their current employer, or from their home support network. Either way, it is vital that something changes as soon as possible, or the U.S faces a major challenge in how it is going to care for its citizens without sufficient specialized nurses to do so.
Thankfully, there is a ray of hope for nurses across the country. The rise of online studying options in advanced nursing programs has been greatly beneficial.
If you are not already aware of the benefits of online courses and degrees as a nurse, then get ready to have your mind blown.
Your future in nursing is set to get a lot more exciting and rewarding. Here’s how and why you should progress your career…
1. You have more flexibility with your studying
If you choose to enroll in either a full or part-time course at your local university, or even worse, one that is a long distance from your home, there will be a set schedule that you need to adhere to if you want to stay on track with your studies. This is not doable for all, especially those who have a family to look after.
You will have to be in class at a set time each and every week. You will have to factor in the additional time needed to travel to these classes as well as the actual lessons themselves. You will have to ensure that you bring all your relevant books and assignments to your classes every time.
That is a lot of commitment and additional pressure, especially if you are trying to juggle your studies with work and family life as well.
However, an online course allows you to log on and study whenever and wherever you want. If you are at work and have an hour spare, simply get out your laptop, log on and you are good to go. The only requirement of online courses is that you meet your set deadlines; the rest is up to you and can be fitted in with your (undoubtedly) busy life.
2. You don’t have to forgo family time
As a working nurse, you probably know only too well that family time is precious and also not very abundant. You already work long and unsociable hours, so how can you possibly sign up to another career-related commitment? This means even less time with your loved ones.
Luckily, you can with an online advanced nursing course.
One of the best aspects of an online course is that you can work at any time – when your kids are asleep or when they are engrossed in their favorite TV show. There is no need for your career goals to get in the way of your family life.
You can have it all, despite what they tell you.
3. You don’t have to give up or cut back on your existing job
Very few people, especially those working within the nursing sector, can afford to give up their jobs or even take a sabbatical to study. Studying may help you progress your career, but for most, it is unattainable because of other commitments.
Online courses offer freedom like no other university or college can; you can studying without conflictions arising. You need to work in the morning? Well, studying in the afternoon instead. It’s as simple as that!
Moreover, you can actively apply some of the practices you learn online to your current job (where applicable) and also utilize your everyday work experiences to enhance your online learning.
4. You can become an independent learner
Without a tutor or other students to motivate you and keep you on track with your course, you only have yourself to rely on to ensure that you get the work done within the designated time frame.
This may seem like a negative in some people’s books, but for others, they thrive when working on their own. Not being surrounded by distractions and having your own company allows you to focus. You will also master the skill of becoming an independent learner, which is extremely beneficial for nurses as there will be times when they need to think for themselves and follow their gut instinct.
For example, if your career aspiration is to become an FNP, or Family Nurse Practitioner, who actively goes out into the community to care for people in the long term:
- You need to be able to work independently.
- You need to be able to manage your patients and their health records on your own.
- You need to make informed decisions about treatment plans on your own.
Online courses also offer you the chance to learn about recent technologies that are utilized in the healthcare industry today. By doing so, it is already putting you at an advantage over more students who have studied in a more traditional setting.
5. You can save money
Studying online can be incredibly cost-effective and affordable for a working nurse. Although some online courses are not necessarily cheaper than school tuition, you need to think about the bigger picture.
If you enroll in a traditional course, you will need to factor in the cost of:
- Reading materials
- Childcare costs (if applicable)
- Loss of wages
- Housing, if you cannot travel to and from your chosen university every day
However, with online courses, you have to pay the course fee, nothing else. There is no traveling to campus or living with other students… what’s more, reading materials can be found online, making it even cheaper!
There are also many online universities now at your disposal, meaning that you should be able to find one that is affordable for you. Plus, you must always try and remember that you are investing in your future, and if you make the decision to choose one of the RN to MSN programs available online, you will have so many more options open to you as an advanced
nurse, rather than simply working in your local hospital.
6. You experience more engagement with your course
Most online nursing courses are made up of small-sized classes, whereas at traditional university, you are likely to be learning with a much larger group of individuals.
Smaller classes, even online ones, mean that you have to actively participate more and really engage with the subject matter. There is no room for hiding at the back of the class or even behind a computer.
With online courses, all students are expected to:
- Work through problems
- Generate ideas
- Propose solutions
- Take an active part in group discussions
This is incredibly beneficial to nursing students as you will be able to apply these theories and practices you have learned later on when you are qualified and in the field.
Online studying is also a great idea for those who do not necessarily thrive in face to face learning situations. For those who may be nervous to participate in a room full of students, online studying can be a cozier alternative. Although, you will need to brush up on your communication and social skills, as these are needed if you want to be a nurse!
7. You are provided with personalized support
Most online course providers offer a one on one guidance service that means you feel supported for the entire duration of your course. This usually covers all of the curriculum plus any other questions that you may have about your chosen nursing role, including your expected salary once you qualify, the demand for jobs in your chosen area of expertise, and how you can go about looking for a job once you have completed your course.
Your student advisor can act as an invaluable resource in your career progression, so make sure that you utilize them to your full advantage.
8. You can complete your course quicker
Many online certificate programs allow you to build upon your current levels of skill and expertise within the nursing profession and the healthcare industry in general. Effectively, this means that you do not have to start from scratch or re-learn aspects of nursing that you already know.
Instead, you will be given relevant and high-quality lessons and assignments that will prepare you for a career in an advanced nursing position. Think about it: you could be on your way to a brand new, highly lucrative career as a nurse practitioner in less than two years!
If that does not motivate you to enroll in an online nursing program as soon as possible, then nothing will.
Studying online has opened so many doors for nurses up and down the country, with many finally having the means and the opportunity to better themselves, to believe that they can achieve more and to have the confidence to go for their dreams.
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