Getting an Online Nursing Degree : Pros and Cons

Synchronous classes

Online work and education are now fully accepted by the public as legitimate, and this should come as good news to anyone. Getting a nursing education online is still something a lot of people have difficulty wrapping their heads around, however. But, we tell you that it’s very well possible to get a top-level nursing education online that will be respected by the workplace and give you all the skills that you need. You still have to know that online learning has its limitations and it’s slightly different from your average program. 

Pro – You Could Get Your Credentials Faster

One of the biggest benefits of getting your nursing degree online is that you could end up getting your credentials in a fraction of the time it would take with an offline program. Many schools, like Wilkes University, for instance, will offer accelerated programs to those with credentials in another discipline. Nurses who are already in the field can find accelerated programs that allow them to get their doctorate or master’s degree faster as well.

There’s also the fact that most online programs take less time in general. This makes them the best option if you’re pressed for time or are nearing retirement age.

Con – You’ll Miss Some of the Camaraderie

Online nursing school is not the typical nursing school experience. While you’ll have the chance to meet with other people in your group during campus events and clinical assignments, it will still be a lonely experience most of the time. This is something that you’ll have to prepare for, but it isn’t necessarily a con for everyone.

Some people are actually more comfortable in this kind of setting, and even though you’ll be studying from your room, you’ll still have plenty of ways to connect with other people. You’ll be able to engage in group chats or one-on-one discussions and speak on discussion boards. Some students decide to form independent groups and attend events together. So, while you won’t be in as close contact with other students, there are still chances to connect and build a network.

Pro – The Convenience

Being able to attend classes when you want to comes with many advantages. The biggest is that you can fit your studies around your work and not the other way around. 

When it comes to online programs, you can either decide to go for an asynchronous program that will allow you to watch material on your own time, or pick a synchronous program where you will have to sit at specific times. Some programs will use both approaches at the same time. Asynchronous programs are perfect for nurses with irregular schedules or those with children.

Being able to review material at your own pace means that you can break it up and watch it throughout the day. This means that you can wake up earlier in the morning and do a little studying, or catch up on material during your breaks.

Synchronous classes could also allow you more flexibility if you have a tight schedule or have family obligations on top of work. Taking classes after work becomes much easier when you don’t have to spend time going back and forth to school. 

Con – It Requires a Lot of Discipline

While convenience can be great, it can be a drawback as well. Online classes, especially asynchronous classes, require much more discipline than other types of classes. You are the one who will need to remind yourself to watch classes and complete important assignments. If you feel like you always need someone to push you in the back to get started or are a natural procrastinator, you might have a tough time with these.

Synchronous classes will give you a little more structure, but they can still be difficult for certain students. You will need to look at how disciplined you are in your everyday life and determine what type of student you were in school. Building a support system with other students in your class could also work if it’s a possibility.

Pro – You Can Choose from More Schools

If you live somewhere that doesn’t have too many nursing schools or the competition is tough where you are, online programs allow you to broaden your options. You can extend your choice beyond your direct geographical location and start looking at programs in neighboring states.

One of the best reasons why there is such a major nursing shortage right now is not because of lack of applicants and faculty. Faculty shortages are very real, and if you think that getting into nursing is easy, even with prior credentials, experience, and good test results, think again. 

It could also be a good idea if you feel like you want a change of air, or want to move to a state with better prospects, salaries, and conditions. Getting a degree, even online, from a school in the same state will facilitate things like licensing and make it easier for you to get hired by an institution in the area.

Con – You Can’t Always Get Direct Feedback

If you decide to get synchronous classes, know that you will be able to get in touch with teaching staff directly during tasks in most cases. However, this will be impossible if you decide to take asynchronous classes.

These classes are recorded in advance, so you will only be able to speak with your teacher after classes to get clarifications. Depending on the program and the professors, you may have very limited ways to do so, and some programs will only allow you to speak with a course manager. So, this is another factor you will need to take into consideration when choosing between a synchronous or an asynchronous program. 

It would be wise to ask how you’ll be able to speak with the staff before you pick a program and how fast you can expect to get a response. Some programs will only allow you to reach the staff through email, for instance, while others will allow you to contact teachers directly through video conference. This could make a huge difference in the teaching experience and your chances of succeeding.

Pro – You Could Save Money

The tuition for online classes is roughly the same as traditional classes. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t savings to be had, however. You’ll be able to save in many ways. First of all, since most of your education is dispensed online, you don’t have to spend as much money on teaching material. You’ll be able to save on commuting and won’t have to eat out as much either. There are also many fees associated with on-campus learning and living that will be waived. 

Con – Some Programs are Less than Reputable

While things are way better than they used to be, there are still some questionable schools out there and you have to make your choice wisely. The first thing you have to do is check if the institution and their program are accredited.

There are two main accreditations that you should look for when picking a nursing school: the CCNE, and the AACN. These are the two most respected organizations and they ensure that online programs meet certain quality standards. This means that you can trust these programs to give you all the skills you’d get from a traditional program and that your credentials will be respected wherever you go.

This is the main thing that will determine how well your degree is regarded after accreditation. There is no way for employers to know that you got your degree online; only the reputation of the school will count. So, this is something you’ll need to pay special attention to.

Pro – Perfect for Advancement

Getting your degree online is the best and sometimes only way to get higher credentials. An online degree could allow you to take advantage of coming shortages either in your current place of work or the industry as a whole. Some organizations will even offer to help you pay for your education, and you’ll be able to integrate knowledge as you go, which could help you stand out as a prime candidate for promotion before there are even openings.

Online nursing degrees have tons of benefits and could be a perfect choice whether you’re coming fresh, a working nurse, or coming from an unrelated field. If you still have apprehensions about them, we suggest you speak with a counselor today and ask as many questions as you can.

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