Online Nursing Programs California
California is one of the most populous states, and as such has one of the highest demands for healthcare services. With a large number of aging Baby boomers, there are a number of job opportunities available in the healthcare sector. Nursing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is expected to see large employment growth figures, in the next decade.
Nurses are caregivers and healthcare providers with a diverse array of roles to play in a number of settings. They are found working in all major hospitals, as well as extended care facilities and old age homes. They carry out a number of functions including:
- Obtaining patient histories
- Administering medications
- Helping physicians
California has over 230 nursing schools; many of which offer online programs. Furthermore, nurses in California earn more than the nurses anywhere in the United States, according to data from BLS and 0*NET OnLine. The state currently has over 250, 000 employed registered nurses and the estimated employment in 2016 for nurses is expected to be over 291,000. This makes California an ideal place to begin your nursing career.
Studying for a nursing degree online affords you with the opportunity to gain the education credentials you require on your own schedule.
Types of nurses
The term ‘nurse’ is an umbrella term and covers a number of different types of nurses with different roles and job descriptions. Listed below are the common types of nurses:
- Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN): These types of nurses are responsible for providing basic patient care under the direct supervision of a registered nurse or physician. They often work under RN’s. Typical functions that they carry out include checking a patient’s vital signs, immunizations, keeping patient’s records, etc.
- Registered Nurse (RN): Due to the fact that RN’s go through more extensive training, they can carry out a larger number of duties and are eligible for more jobs. They also work in a diverse range of healthcare settings. Their work typically entails working in conjunction with physicians, carrying out physical exams, giving patients medications and injections, etc.
- Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN): These types of nurses are specialized in a particular aspect of nursing. For example, pediatrics nurses work specifically with children. APRNs include:
- Nurse Midwives
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Assistants and Orderlies: These individuals rarely provide healthcare services. Rather, they are involved in providing basic care to patients. This entails bathing, feeding, and assisting patients with movements.
- Nurse Administrators: As their name suggests, these nurses carry out administrative roles. Their work has less to do with patients, and more to do with carrying out management and leadership related roles in a particular health care setting with respect to the nursing staff.
Pros and cons of a nursing career
As with any profession, it is important to carefully weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks there may be before making any decisions. Listed below are a few pros and cons of pursing an online nursing degree and becoming a nurse in California:
Obtaining a nursing degree online has become popular over the past few years. It allows individuals the flexibility to gain a degree that can potentially increase their earning potential and job opportunities while still working.
One important limitation that must be noted is the fact that intrinsic to the study of nursing is clinical work. Candidates must complete a certain number of hours of clinical or vocational training before they can become nurses. There are certain skills that need to be taught hands on. These include administering medications, giving injections, taking vital signs, etc. As such, it is often the case that entry- level programs are not offered completely online. Rather, they are hybrid programs with an online curriculum along with on-campus clinical requirements. Online programs may also differ from traditional programs in terms of admissions costs, requirements, etc.
Undergraduate nursing programs
Associate Degree or Diploma in Nursing (ADN): An ADN or diploma in nursing is regarded as the entry- level qualification by those individuals seeking to become LPN’s or LVN’s. The degree gives you a solid foundation in the health care field and provides you with nursing fundamentals knowledge. You will typically be required to complete courses in Anatomy, Physiology, Biology, Nutrition, Basic Nursing Skills, etc. In addition, a certain number of hours of clinical work also need to be completed. These are practical or vocational nurse training programs. Duration: 2-3 years.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): This undergraduate degree prepares candidates to enter the field of nursing as a registered nurse with a far more thorough curriculum. Although hospitals still admit RN’s with an ADN, it is now becoming common place for them to require a minimum of BSN so as to stand out from the increasing number of job applications for nursing positions. The program contains a full curriculum of subjects related to the field, as well as clinical practice. Duration: 4 years
LPN to RN: This program is intended for LPN/LVN’s who want to develop their nursing skills further and increase their job prospects by becoming RN’s. The courses taken are typically focused on expanding your role and responsibilities as a nurse. Duration: typically 1 year
RN to BSN: This program is for those RN’s who either have an ADN or a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and who wish to further their job prospects and nursing knowledge. Gaining a BSN not only increases your earning potential possibilities, but furthers your career opportunities and opens doors to managerial and administrative positions as well. It also allows you to consider pursing a graduate degree. The program is not completely online, however. Duration: 1-2 years
Graduate nursing programs
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN): This is a postgraduate degree, which prepares RN’s to undertake a particular specialization or take on leadership or managerial roles. Duration: 1-2 years
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP): This is a degree with strong focus on clinical practice and leadership roles. Courses aim to prepare nurses to bring evidence-based knowledge to clinical practice, thereby improving patient care. Duration: 2-3 years
PhD in Nursing: This degree prepares individuals for work in academia. Those who hold a PhD in nursing typically go on to conduct research with the aim of improving nursing practices, and the health of individuals. Duration: 3-5 years
The California Nursing Board (CNB) is in charge of all licensure of nurses within the state. It is an agency entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the public by ensuring that all registered nurses are appropriately licensed to practice. All applications must be sent to the CNB who will determine whether you are eligible to be licensed. The criteria are as follows:
- Must have completed required education
- Pass a national licensing exam
- Clear a background check
The Board is also responsible for the renewal of licenses. Licenses must be renewed every two years.
Salary and job outlook
Data from the BLS shows that employment within the nursing profession is supposed to double and even triple between now and 2022. The same information is further corroborated by O*NET OnLine.
Employment growth trends between now and 2022 are as follows:
- 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%
O*NET OnLine shows that the annual median salary of nurses in 2013 was:
- Licensed Practical or Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) – $51,600
- Registered Nurse (RN) – $94,300
- Nurse Practitioners – $109,500
- Nursing Assistants – $28,200
- Nurse Midwives – $124,500
- Nurse Anesthetists – $167,200
These figures are higher than the national figures. For example, the annual median salary of RN’s all over the U.S was $66,220. In California that figure is substantially higher.
From all the information that has been provided, it is evident that employment within the field of nursing is steadily growing. This is especially true in California, which has a very large population. Gaining an online degree in nursing can help you enter and advance in this highly challenging and satisfying career.