Although there are many benefits to earning an online degree, some students are hesitant to enroll in online programs because they tend to feature very little face-to-face interaction. As a nursing student, however, you can get the best of both worlds, as virtually every semester includes a practicum experience in a real-life work environment. By combining your need to organize your schedule with online courses and hours of practicum experience each week, you’ll be able to still receive the in-person training that is crucial to becoming a strong nurse.
The perks of online programs
In a web-based learning environment, you get to move at your own pace. It can take you as little as 18 months if you’re in a full-time program, or just over two years, if you prefer to enroll part-time while working. Even though classes are online, most schools keep them small in size to maintain an atmosphere where students are comfortable discussing their opinions and can develop strong relationships with faculty and peers.
One of the clear benefits of online learning is that they are often offered in an asynchronous format. The collaborative learning environment has no time or location restrictions, allowing students to tune in and view lectures, complete assignments and participate in topic discussions when it is most convenient for them. Using video presentations, blogs, clinical logs and interactive media, schools can cater to busy students’ schedules by giving them free reign, yet also ensuring their education is up to par with the leading traditional nursing programs nationwide.
Take advantage of your practicum
Similar to an internship, a nursing practicum gives you the opportunity to practice your leadership skills in an authentic healthcare environment. You can choose from a community center, a private medical office or a hospital setting, working under close observation of supervisors. These experiences are generally prerequisites to graduate from a nursing program, and to make sure you are taking full advantage of the program, you are usually required to keep a detailed journal or log documenting your daily tasks and self-reflection on the lessons you have learned.
Professional roles abound
If you earn an online degree from a graduate nursing program, you have a variety of options to choose from for future careers. You can become a clinical nurse specialist, who typically specializes in one particular area, like diseases or specific procedures, and provide consultation or research to medical offices and hospitals. Another popular role, especially if you love to interact with people, is family nurse practitioner. These professionals are crucial in dealing with people who are battling an illness and recognizing how this tragedy impacts the entire family. Treating patients ranging from children to the elderly, these workers should possess a strong passion for serving others and feel comfortable consoling people in upsetting or tense situations.
Spread your knowledge
Many graduates of master’s in nursing programs head back to the classroom after years of applying their skills in the workplace. They can choose to join a scientific organization as a medical researcher or a professor at schools dedicated to training nurse practitioners. By sharing the lessons they’ve learned during their own careers, they can pay it forward and prepare the next generation of healthcare students to enter the workforce.