Nursing is a vast profession constituting a variety of specialties as well as career paths. Nursing students practically gain knowledge in numerous fields closely related to medicine and can specialize either in private practice and focus on families and individuals or public practice to serve the entire community. There is a huge demand for registered nurses in today’s healthcare environment. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 15% rise in the employment of registered nurses (RNs) between 2016 and 2026. To meet the high demand for nurses, many training institutions have opened a traditional 2 and 4-year degree program that include online nursing courses and accelerated programs.
Currently, most universities and colleges offer an array of online nursing programs including Licensed Practical/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN), Associate’s Degree in Nursing (AND), Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN), and Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees. A Ph.D. nursing program is rarely offered online.
Types of Online Nursing Programs
Online LPN/LVN Diploma Programs
Online LPN/LVN diploma programs can be completed in about a year, and one becomes licensed by the state to begin working as a nurse after passing the NCLEX-PN. Most vocational schools and community colleges, however, do not offer online LPN/LVN programs. Instead, they offer online LPN to RN bridge programs which take approximately 9 months for one to earn an associate degree which is the minimum degree required to take the NCLEX-RN to be registered as a nurse.
Online Associate’s Degrees in Nursing (ADN)
An Online Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a prerequisite for taking the NCLEX-RN exam that allows a graduate to become licensed by the state as a Registered Nurse after passing the exam. Most online ADN programs do not require prior healthcare experience on admission, but some may require previous licensure. A Registered Nurse can undertake an online RN to BSN programs to attain a degree in nursing.
Online Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN)
An Online Bachelors of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) is similar to a traditional 4-year nursing degree only that is done online. Online BSN course can also be pursued as a bridge program by a licensed ADN nurse to work as a bedside RN. Online BSN programs are usually available to both non-RN entry-level students and RNs. It can also be pursued as a Bachelor’s degree to BSN bridge program or an accelerated Bachelor’s to BSN.
Online Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
An Online Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) is available to both RNs with a degree in any nursing field or students who have a degree in a non-nursing major. Online MSN programs are offered by most universities and are usually competitive. Most are often accelerated with a clinical and course completion time of 15 months on a full-time study mode basis.
Nursing is an ambitious career with over 100 career prospects and numerous job opportunities. An average salary of a nurse is $83,176, and the average tuition of an online nursing program is $24,354. An online nursing degree program provides students more options for finishing their course in a timely and cost-effective manner. Online programs enable students to work while still advancing their current careers. It’s however crucial for prospective nursing students to ensure that any degree program they consider is accredited and recognized by the state’s licensing board, i.e. NLNAC and the CCNE.