Online Degree for RN? Distance Learning for Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) represent the largest category of persons employed in the healthcare industry, and their numbers are expected to increase significantly in coming years. Employment prospects for RNs are, in a word, excellent. There are three paths toward becoming an RN:

  • Earning an associate degree in nursing
  • Earning a bachelor of science degree in nursing
  • Completing a diploma program affiliated with a hospital (these programs have been declining in number in recent years)

The final step, required in all fifty states in the U.S., is passing a national licensing examination, known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license. Individual states may have additional requirements for licensure. Not surprisingly, RNs with bachelor’s degrees tend to advance more quickly (and therefore earn higher salaries) than those with associate degrees.

The RN to BSN

Training to be an RN necessitates a significant amount of hands-on clinical practice and experience, which cannot be gained through distance learning. However, advanced studies and continuing education for RNs can be, and often are accomplished online. One of the most common courses of online study for RNs is the RN to BSN degree. Nurses who upgrade their associates degree to a bachelor of science could gain an advantage in terms of advancement possibilities and earning potential-and an online course of study allows them to pursue their BSN while continuing to work as RNs, fitting their coursework around their schedules.

There are also online programs for BSN specializations in fields such as midwifery, geriatrics, pediatrics, psychiatric nursing, etc. A masters in nursing offers further potential along with an opportunity to specialize in healthcare administration, case management, education and more.

Nursing and Learning

Medical science as an area of study is anything but static. Diagnostic and technological advances, along with ongoing improvements in standards of care, make continuing education for RNs a necessity. In recognition of this, many states and employers require RNs to earn continuing education credits at regular intervals. Online study can be an attractive option for acquiring those credits. Gaining knowledge is a career-long endeavor for RNs, and online study can bring efficiency and convenience to that practice.



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