When it comes to studying for a nursing qualification, these days there are a huge variety of options available to you. They range from an associate degree in nursing all the way to doctoral level degrees, with each one usually also having the choice between studying full time or part time, and in person or online.
This is great news for people who are interested in becoming a nurse but would rather not go back to college for four years. If that sounds like you, one of the best options for you to consider is taking an online accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN). Here’s why.
The benefits of being a nurse
Before we get into the specifics of the online ABSN, it’s worth touching on some of the many benefits you can expect to enjoy once you qualify as a nurse. Firstly, it’s a career that enables you to spend your time helping others and making a genuine difference to your community. This is both in terms of providing medical care and also emotional support. It’s no wonder, therefore, that people find it such a satisfying and rewarding job to have.
In terms of more material benefits, nursing is a field in which you will always be in high demand. Thus, you can anticipate enjoying high levels of job security, employability and financial stability after you graduate. Indeed, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job outlook for registered nurses (RNs) is set to grow by 7% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the average job growth.
Finally, as your nursing career progresses you will find many opportunities for professional development coming your way. That enables you to tailor your job to best suit your unique skillset and interests, and it makes this field ideal for those who are curious and passionate about healthcare.
The benefits of taking an online ABSN
There are a whole wealth of benefits to be gained by taking accelerated nursing programs online. Firstly, taking any sort of online program lets you enjoy a greater level of flexibility in comparison to a traditional course held on campus. Due to the fact that you can study your academic modules at a time, place and pace that suits you, it’s much easier to fit an online ABSN around your existing work and family obligations. This makes it particularly convenient for those who are hoping to study and work at the same time.
This flexibility also extends to your learning environment, enabling you to craft your perfect study space. For example, you could choose to immerse yourself in the creative hustle and bustle of a coffee shop, soak up the atmosphere in your local library or retreat to the peace and quiet of your home office.
One of the unique advantages that an ABSN has over other nursing degrees is that it’s designed for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject and are looking to begin their nursing career quickly. As such it’s especially well-suited to people who are hoping to retrain as a nurse later in life. On a course like this, you’ll be studying alongside other mature students who are just as dedicated and determined as you are. Therefore, it’s not only a great opportunity for networking, but will also be a huge boost for your learning.
Taking any type of nursing degree, whether accelerated or not, will teach you a wide range of clinical skills and a great deal of specialist knowledge in the subject. Beyond that it will also be a good chance to improve many of your transferable skills. These include communication (both written and verbal), teamwork, leadership, organization, time management, critical thinking, decision making and problem solving. All of these will be useful to you no matter what career you progress to after graduating.
Factors to consider when studying online
There are no specific disadvantages to studying a nursing degree online when looking for jobs. Employers are well aware of the value of virtual learning nowadays, in addition to which all of your clinical placements will be conducted in person. That means you won’t miss out on any valuable experience or personal feedback.
Having said that, there are of course some differences between studying online and attending classes on campus that you should be aware of before you apply. For instance, as a distance learner you won’t have access to your university’s physical facilities – such as the gym, library or campus coffee shops – so if you’re hoping to attend college sports games and spend late nights holed up in the book stacks then a traditional course will likely be more satisfying for you.
Another difference is that all of your socializing and networking with your fellow students will be done virtually. This isn’t a problem thanks to the many advances in communication technology, but worth being aware of. Your contact with professors and other staff will also be digital, but you can expect the same standard of teaching as on any in-person program.
Tips for successfully completing an online degree
If you’re considering enrolling on an online ABSN but have never completed any distance learning before, there may be differences in studying. To help you out, here are some top tips for successfully undertaking an online degree:
- Set up a dedicated space to study that has everything you need, and where you won’t be disturbed
- Put aside specific times every week for studying, to ensure you keep on top of your work – and don’t leave assignments until the last minute
- Take a free, short online course beforehand (in any subject) to get used to the general style of virtual learning
- Read as much as possible before you start to familiarize yourself with the sort of topics you’ll be studying
- Connect with other students on the course to network and help each other
- Make time for self-care – eat well, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and don’t neglect family, friends or hobbies
- Ask your professors for help or advice if you need it
- Check out blogs and videos about online study for more tips and tricks