You want to get your nursing degree but you need more flexibility than you’d get if you enrolled in a nursing program at your local college. What are your options?
Can you get your Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) online? Yes and no. That is, you can complete much of your coursework online, but because nursing is a hands-on profession, part of your training must be completed in a healthcare facility. These programs are often referred to as hybrid or mixed programs.
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Here, we’ll answer some common questions people may have about online nursing degrees.
How do I get my associate’s in nursing online?
The first step is to find and enroll in a reputable nursing program. As online education increases in popularity, affordability, and access, you'll probably find multiple options that suit your needs.
Work through your online and practical courses.
Your non-clinical work can be completed online. Some programs allow you to work through the coursework at your own pace, while others may require you to view online lectures or participate in discussions at specific times. Obviously, having reliable computer access is key.
Your clinical, or practical, work can be completed at a healthcare facility and/or lab in your area. Your online school will generally arrange for your in-person training.
Be sure to take advantage of opportunities for human-to-human contact, even during the online portion of your training. Many programs do an excellent of job of reaching out to students via phone or email to ensure that they understand the course material.
What happens after I graduate? How do I get my nursing license?
After you complete your program of study and receive your ADN, you’ll apply for a nursing license from your state board of nursing. Obtaining this license will allow you to sit for the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exam. Passing the NCLEX qualifies you as a registered nurse (RN), meaning that you’re prepared for entry-level nursing.
From there, you’ll be qualified to apply for nursing jobs at doctor’s offices, clinic, hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, or other healthcare facilities.
You can also opt to continue your training to get a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, or BSN. There are a variety of online RN-BSN programs that working nurses find fit well with their schedules.
How long will it take to earn my ADN?
You can generally complete your ADN in about two years. However, online learning may allow you to finish faster if you want to work at an accelerated pace, or you may opt to move through the coursework at a slower pace. The fastest that you can realistically expect to graduate would be 18 months.
Check with your online learning provider to find out how long their ADN programs typically last, and if you can modify your courseload to adapt to your needs.
Will I learn the same information online as I would in the classroom?
Yes. The ADN has strict requirements, and you will be required to pass both written and practical exams. A credible nursing program should prepare you to pass all of these requirements and to pass the NCLEX exam.
Is online learning right for me?
Online learning is an excellent choice for people who aren’t able to attend school on a college campus on a regular basis. That may include parents and single parents who have childcare considerations, people who are already employed full-time, or people who live in remote areas.
Can I start at any time?
Programs affiliated with colleges or universities may require you to take classes on a semester schedule. However, nursing or professional schools may offer more flexibility.
What should I think about when choosing an online nursing school?
It’s a good idea to know where clinical coursework can be completed in your area. Having to travel far for practical training may seriously reduce the convenience of online learning.
Think about whether a self-paced program or a more formal program is better for you. If the school you’re considering requires you to be available at certain times, make sure you can accommodate that schedule.
You also need to consider your access to a computer with a reliable Internet connection. If you don’t have a computer in your home, call your local library to find out if they have computer access, and if you can reserve a computer during your classtime. Your online nursing school may also have options for purchasing a computer at a student rate.
Are you ready to start your online nursing degree?
With so many affordable and flexible options, there's never been a better time to start your online nursing education. Investigate your options today.
Trish Sammer is Nitro's managing editor. Her work has appeared in Woman’s Day, Redbook, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Forbes. She has also written for various corporate clients, including the tech giant SAP, The Franklin Institute, and PSE&G. When Trish isn’t busy acting as a writing ninja for other people, you can find her … well, writing about other stuff, like divorce and blended family life. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, their combined brood, and the world’s laziest dog. Read more by Trish Sammer