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As COVID-19 continues to disrupt life and studies on college campuses, enrolling in an online nursing program is probably an increasingly attractive option. If you are pursuing a career in nursing, understanding the differences between online nursing schools and campus-based ones will make it easier for you to decide. Here are four things you should consider at the outset:

1. Technology Has Come a Long Way

In the past, only a certain portion of nursing school curriculum could be taught online. The reason for this was because of limited technology. Nurses would still need to be involved in various labs to get the practicum necessary to graduate.

As schools around the country have enhanced their technology, it makes it easier to attend a school of nursing completely online. It offers an immersive curriculum in order for students to understand the various topics.

Particularly within the past decade, web-based teaching has increased considerably. It allows teachers to answer questions live and allow students to work with one another in team settings. This is being seen not only in nursing schools but throughout all of higher education.

Even students who did not grow up learning on computers have found that they are able to embrace online learning. Nursing systems, specifically, provide online tutorials, use 3D images, and other enhanced programming in order to make up for what would traditionally be lost from a face-to-face classroom environment.

2. What Nursing Lab Options Would Work Best for You?

Throughout nursing school, labs are a significant component involved in teaching. It allows students to understand how they will need to work with doctors and patients in order to perform on the job daily.

In a classroom, students will have the ability to simulate real-life situations. They can “act” as a nurse in order to perform the necessary activities. Whether it’s to draw blood, conduct the lab on a patient, or save a life, they will have the ability to walk through the various steps in person.

Online, simulation labs are available. There are plenty of universities getting creative with how they are going to train students filming various scenarios and using ambulance and flight simulators can make it easier for students online to feel as though they are in the moment. It enables students to think about their approach, communicate, and take action.

Although some of the virtual clinical simulation labs are a culture shock, it allows online students to get the same level of education as those who are in the classroom.

Additionally, some schools provide the opportunity for both in-person and online courses. This would allow you to take some of the lecture courses online while still being able to go into the classroom for the labs. It comes down to deciding what you are most comfortable with – and what a particular school offers.

3. Looking for On-Campus Experience, or Convenience?

Online nursing schools offer a significant amount of convenience. It allows you to get the education you want without having to consider the distance to the nearest campus. As long as you have access to WiFi, you have the ability to attend your classes.

Some classes allow you the added convenience of being able to log in at any time within a 24-hour period to listen to the lectures. You can work the assignments on a schedule that works for all that you have going on in your life. Other classes, however, may require that you log in at a certain day and time.

Beyond the location of the school and the timeframes, you also have the benefit of being able to work in a more independent environment. More specifically, for adults that are considering going back to school, many prefer an online environment once they become familiar with the technology. It can boost confidence as they don’t have to worry about having their age being questioned while sitting in a class with students half their age.

4. What are Your Learning and Career Goals?

Everyone has the opportunity to choose the type of nursing school program that works best for them. When you decide that you want to become a nurse, you will need to find a certified program that allows you to work within the environment you feel the most comfortable in.

While online programs provide a significant amount of versatility and convenience, some people prefer to interact face-to-face with the professors and their fellow students.

As you explore the different programs, you will want to look at the intensity of the simulation labs. Ask questions about the technology used to ensure that you get the level of education that you deserve. Once you graduate from a program, whether it is online or in-person, you will be expected to have a full understanding of the curriculum you have been taught. As such, if you are going to engage in online labs, it needs to be on a level where you can translate that information to doing it in person.

Regardless of what you decide in terms of the type of class, you’re given the same curriculum. Further, you have to decide on the kind of RN you wish to be. Nursing schools will give you access to courses that focus on various specialties:

  • Neonatal
  • Dialysis
  • Critical care
  • Pain management
  • Trauma/ER
  • Psychiatric
  • Pediatrics

With over 100 specialties out there, you can focus on simply being educated as an RN or decide to dive into one of the specialties. You can always cross-train between some of the specialties, too. As you become more familiar with the options, you can work on customizing your curriculum to ensure you get the right education for the type of nurse you are passionate about becoming.

Evaluate Your Priorities and Explore Your Opportunities

Don’t be afraid to explore the opportunities that are provided to you by a college or university, whether it is online or not. Ensure it is going to support your career goals.

As long as you can pass the NXLEX-RN exam to prove that you have met the requirements to work as a nurse in the US and you have passed an English language competency exam, you have the ability to work all across the United States.

The first step is deciding that you want to be a nurse. You don’t have to attend and graduate from an Ivy League college that is not only far away but also expensive. You simply have to obtain the necessary education to become a registered nurse – and there are plenty of opportunities out there.

The choice is yours. Attend online or in person. Online nursing programs have evolved dramatically over the past few years, allowing you to get a comprehensive education in a way that is convenient (and affordable) for you.

For more information on planning your nursing career, visit this link: Nursing Career Opportunities.

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