The Growth of Online Nursing Programs

The Growth of Online Nursing Programs

Growth of Online Nursing Programs

The Growth of Online Nursing Programs

The growth of online nursing programs have created affordable and flexible degree options for many nurses to earn a BSN or MSN. The emergence of online education has played a vital role in helping to fill the shortage of nurses needed in the US.



How Serious Is The Nursing Shortage?

America needs more nurses. But, how serious is the situation? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment projections for 2020-2030 indicate a need for 194,500 replacements nurses in the workforce every year! Never before have RNs, LPNs, and general nurse practitioners been more in-demand. One way colleges have responded to the desperate needs of the present, and future nursing community has been the development of online educational programs with practical clinical experiences. 


Why Is There A Nursing Shortage?

What’s causing the shortage? There is not just one reason for the nursing shortage. First, the rise in specialized health care needs has changed the needs of the healthcare community. In addition, the baby boom generation is wading into retirement with the largest older population this country has ever seen. Also, recent reforms in healthcare will give millions of people access to the system. Finally, the median age of nurses is high, with over half of the current nursing workforce close to retirement.


Future Need For Nuring Professionals

Below are projections of future needs in the profession.

growth of online nursing programs - job growth

Given the promising job outlook for nursing professionals, it’s not surprising that online programs for nursing degrees have grown significantly over the past few years. Of course, colleges have been moving their nursing programs online for almost as long as online education has existed. However, schools are doing so now at a faster rate. For example, the number of fully online RN to BSN programs in the US has grown by more than a third in the last few years, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).


Online Nursing Degrees

Although almost all nursing programs today blend online with practical experience, the AACN quickly acknowledges the growing importance of going digital. In some colleges and universities that offer nursing courses online, lectures have been eliminated or replaced with interactive seminars. Some online nursing programs, for example, provide interactive workshops to students in all nursing courses. Seminars have multiple uses. First, they provide a platform for faculty to present information not yet available in a textbook. Instructors also use them to address topics that students have expressed an interest in or answer questions on course content. Finally, the use of online seminars helps learners make connections among readings, online discussion, and written assignments.

The instructor promotes these connections by clarifying concepts or helping learners think more deeply about a particular issue. Through this process, learners don’t simply memorize material for the sake of later “regurgitating” it on an exam. Instead, they must demonstrate mastery of the material, which faculty evaluates based on student posts on interactive discussion boards and written papers. In short, distance education provides a more profound cognitive exercise.


Types Of Online Nursing Degree Programs

The current types of online nursing degrees offered by online colleges are as follows. In addition, all the following programs are at accredited schools.

growth of online nursing programs - schools

Once you earn that online degree you’ve worked so hard to attain, the monetary rewards can be substantial. The figures below represent average salaries. Keep in mind neither the highs nor the starter salaries are shown in the figure. The wages and the need for qualified nurses have fueled the field’s growth, and online opportunities are leading the way.

growth of online nursing programs - salary


Online Nursing Degree Program Accreditation

Online courses from an accredited online nursing program are just as rigorous as you would expect traditional courses to be. Do not expect earning your nursing degree online to be any easier than in a brick-and-mortar institution. Online colleges and traditional colleges have the same process for accreditation. They both must meet the criteria set by independent accrediting bodies to receive recognition by that body.

One last word of caution. Ensure the online nursing program you’re considering has accreditation from one of the two Department of Education-recognized nursing accreditors listed below. These Department of Education recognized nursing program accreditors that count. In addition, it makes you eligible for student loans, tuition reimbursement programs, and many types of scholarships and grants.

• The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
• The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


Is An Online Nursing Degree Worth It?

Online nursing degrees are legitimate if you earn them through an online learning institution that is accredited. Conduct plenty of research before you enroll in a school or program. This way, you reassure your future employer that you received both a quality education and the training, knowledge, and skills needed to excel in the nursing field. And, by the way, this also will mean you didn’t waste several years of time and money to receive a fake degree that most employers will likely not accept.


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Sandra Janowicz
Author

Keeley Jones
Registered Nurse

Carrie Sealey-Morris
Editor-in-Chief