Online Nursing Programs
Nursing is one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. According to data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment within the nursing profession is going to see substantial growth between 2012 and 2022. This growth rate is attributable to a number of factors, which include a large aging population, and greater demand for health care services. Nurses work in a variety of different settings, including hospitals, retirement homes, clinics, extended care facilities, schools, etc. Depending on their qualifications, nurses are involved in carrying out a wide variety of tasks from providing basic comforts to patients, to administering medications and injections.
It is a highly regulated field requiring a number of education and licensing requirements before allowing an individual to work as a nurse. In addition to traditional brick and mortar campuses, there are a variety of online schools, which offer nursing degrees. Read on to find out more.
What does Nursing Entail?
The principal aim of nursing is to provide direct care to patients. In addition to their capacity as caregivers, they also provide healthcare and medical services. Nurses are not only limited to providing patient care; some nurses on the other hand, choose to carry out research for different institutions. There is also the potential for nurses to work in various administrative capacities.
Different types of Nurses
1. Registered Nurse (RN): RN’s work in a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals to clinics, and provide a number of healthcare services to patients. Their job duties include:
- Administering medications
- Performing physical examinations
- Determining patient histories
- Working alongside physicians in caring for patients
- Carrying out research for improving healthcare practices
2. Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN): These nurses are responsible for providing basic patient care under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or doctor. Their job responsibilities are significantly less than those of a registered nurse due to the fact that their training isn’t as extensive. Each state regulates how much these types of nurses are allowed to do. Typical functions include:
- Monitoring the patients vital signs
- Keeping patient records
- Basic wound care
- Giving certain medications and injections
3. Administrative Nurse: These types of nurses are not involved with patients as much as they are with administrative work. Their job involves a blend of business and nursing functions and entails carrying out duties such as:
- Organizing and supervising nursing care services and nurses themselves
- Development of nursing policies
- Maintaining standards by ensuring nurses work to meet those standards
- Ensuring efficiency and cost effectiveness
- Leading and directing a team of nurses
4. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN): APRN’s need the most extensive education qualifications in order to practice. APRN is the designation given to a RN who has obtained master’s level education in nursing. Their work is often specialized in a particular area, such as anesthesiology. The following nurses are considered APRN’s:
- Nurse Practitioners
- Nurse Midwives
- Nurse Anesthesiologists
5. Nursing Assistants and Orderlies: These individuals are involved in taking care of patients in hospital settings and long-term care facilities and work under LPN’s or RN’s. They do not provide healthcare services, just basic care. They often have a large amount of interaction with patients and carry out the following duties:
- Bathing patients
- Providing basic comforts
- Repositioning patients
- Transporting patients
- Serving meals
- Taking vital signs
PRO’s and CON’s of a Nursing Degree
Before considering whether a career in nursing is the right fit for you, it is important to weigh the potential pros and cons of the field.
Beneficial Personality Traits and Skills to have as a Nurse
The following is a list of personality traits and skills that are deemed to be beneficial for those intending to become nurses:
- Like to work with people
- Strong work ethic
- Good organization skills
Educational Requirements for different Nursing Programs
Listed below are the various different degrees you can pursue as an aspiring nurse. These programs are all offered online as well.
At this point, it is absolutely essential to state that you have to determine whether or not the school or program you are interested in pursuing is accredited. Accreditation determines whether you have received an education up to the standard recognized as acceptable in the field of nursing. Licensure and certification exams need to be passed, which will determine whether you can practice as a nurse. As such, it is of great importance that you ensure your degree is accredited and recognized.
There is also a number of nursing bridge programs. These are intended to facilitate those who have prior nursing credentials to increase their qualifications in a shorter amount of time. For instance, the RN to BSN program, which allows registered nurses to purse a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in a shorter period of time.
Diploma in Nursing
|This was traditionally the entry-level qualification, which was required to enter into the field of nursing. As such, it equips students with the basic knowledge of the duties and responsibilities of being a nurse. It also involves some clinical work.Duration: 2 years|
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
|An ADN is required by those individuals seeking to become LPN’s or LVN’s and gives them a solid foundation in the health care field. Students will typically be required to complete courses in Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Nutrition and Basic Nursing skills, etc. In addition, clinical work and hands-on work needs to be carried out.Duration: 2-3 years|
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
|This undergraduate degree prepares candidates thoroughly to enter the field of nursing as a registered nurse. Although previously hospitals used to admit RN’s with an ADN, it is now becoming common place for them to require a minimum of a BSN.The program incorporates elements of both clinical practice and required coursework.Duration: 4 years|
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
|This postgraduate degree prepares registered nurses to become a nurse expert in a particular specialization or take on leadership or managerial roles. For example, if you are looking to become a nurse anesthetist you would need to gain the MSN degree. The degree focuses on advanced nursing and healthcare specialties.Duration: 1-2 years depending on specialization chosen.|
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
|This is a professional degree in which candidates focus on clinical practice or leadership roles. It is intended to prepare individuals who are likely to be leaders in the world of nursing with opportunities to seek outpositions at the highest level of clinical nursing practice.Duration: This will depend on your chosen area of specialization. The average time that it may take is anywhere from 2 -3 years of full-time study.|
PhD in Nursing
|In contrast to a Doctor of Nursing Practice, this degree prepares individuals for work in academia. Graduates with a PhD in Nursing conduct research with the aim of improving nursing practices and the health of individuals.Duration: 3-5 years|
Many online programs at the undergraduate level do require a certain amount of clinical and hands on work to be completed as part of the curriculum. In these cases, the degree is not offered completely online; rather, it is a hybrid program with online and clinical components.
Specializations may be pursued at the post-graduate level. You may also be required to gain certain certifications and licenses for a particular specialization.
Examples of specializations include:
- Mental health nursing
- Pediatric nursing
- Surgical nursing
- Cardiac nursing
- Critical care nursing
- Dental nursing
Due to the fact that nurses provide direct health care to patients and as such, come into direct contact with patients, licensure is an essential prerequisite before you can get a job. The license grants a nurse permission to practice in a particular state and certifies that they have passed all the minimum requirements necessary in order to qualify as a nurse. This process ensures the safety of patients as well as the maintenance of rules and regulations governing the nursing practices.
After graduating, students take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) or for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). These exams allow an individual to practice as a registered nurse, or a licensed practical or vocational nurse (LPN-LVN).
Job Outlook and Salary
Data provided by the BLS indicates that employment within the nursing profession will see tremendous growth from now till 2022, with employment growth rates well above the average for other professions (11%).
This holds true for all types of nurses:
- Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) – 25%
- Registered Nurse (RN) – 19%
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners – 31%
- Nursing Assistants and Orderlies – 21%
This is attributable to the increased demand for health care services, an aging population, and the growing rate of medical conditions, which need to be treated in long term health care facilities requiring nurses, and the increased need for outpatient care.
With respect to earning potential, data from BLS shows that the different types of nurses, in 2012, earned an annual median salary of:
- Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) – $41,540
- Registered Nurse (RN) – $65,470
- Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners – $96,460
- Nursing Assistants and Orderlies – $24,400
With increasing employment opportunities, the field of nursing is a viable and promising career option for many individuals. Nurses carry out a number of tasks – they are healthcare providers, care givers, medical experts, and nutritionists. It is a profession that also allows for advancement and a number of different options for specializations. If you are dedicated to helping people, an online nursing degree will provide you will all the tools you need.