Online Nursing Schools
Qualifying for various nursing examinations comprises the main advantages of taking online nursing school classes. While some distance learning nursing schools provide programs culminating in associate’s degrees, students are still not officially recognized as being a nurse until specific tests are successfully completed. By enrolling in online courses that focus on the non-clinical aspects of nursing, such as human physiology, microbiology, pathology, chemistry and pharmacology, students can fill clinical requirements by working in an internship or as a paid employee for a healthcare facility.
Online nursing schools represent a convenient way to advance a nursing degree. For example, someone who has worked as an CNA (certified nursing assistant) for a year may want to advance to Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) status. An LPN certification serves as the next step in attaining qualifications to be a registered nurse. They are permitted to perform most nursing tasks with the exception of diagnosing illnesses, administering medication without a physician’s order or performing minor surgery such as stitches or mole removal. Job duties of LPNs include vital sign monitoring, collecting blood and urine samples, dressing wounds and assisting patients with hygiene.
LPN programs prepare students to take the NCLEX-PN test (National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing) by teaching them important aspects of human physiology and anatomy, developmental psychology, medication interactions and patient healthcare.
Licensed practical nurses are sometimes referred to a “licenses vocational nurses” in some areas of the U.S. However, both titles attribute the same qualifications to individuals possessing an LPN/LVN certification.
Transitioning from an LPN to a Registered Nurse (RN) requires students obtain a bachelor’s degree from an accredited online school or other higher learning institution. While LPNs generally have two-year associate’s degrees, an RN will have received a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree involving extensive practicum experience and course concentrations concerning preliminary evaluations of a patient’s health condition, administering medications by injection, monitoring of medical equipment, supervision of immunization clinics and educating patients about various health conditions. In addition, many registered nurses specialize in a certain healthcare field, such as pediatrics, geriatrics. obstetrics or dermatology.
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing
Nurses who are already employed often take online nursing courses as a way to advance their degree in order to receive higher wages and obtain managerial positions within the nursing hierarchy. Registered nurses with a bachelor or arts degree can take additional classes online to receive a BSN degree, which provides more employment opportunities due to its emphasis on leadership and communication skills in preparation for a nursing manager position. A BSN degree is also a necessary prerequisite for graduate programs designed for achieving nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist and certified nurse anesthetist qualifications.
Master of Science in Nursing
As a postgraduate degree required for nurses who want to obtain positions as nurse educators, nursing directors or in hospital administration, the MSN degree is achievable once a student receives a BSN diploma. Graduate level classes comprising a nurse’s MSN program usually emphasizes specialized areas in which the nurse has demonstrated expertise. MSN classes may focus on neonatal, psychiatric, pediatric or family health care as well as principles of organizational management, administrative functioning and supervisory skills.
Online Doctorate Nursing Programs
Nurses with master’s degrees are qualified to enroll in doctorate programs that involve about two to three years of post-graduate work designed to prepare the student for a position as a university instructor. An intense and academically-heavy program, the nursing Ph.D. Program culminates in a research project that is to be presented to a board of professional nursing instructors who will either accept or reject the thesis. Courses comprising a Ph.D. Program include examination of nursing science philosophy, statistical research methods, data analysis techniques and further enhancement of leadership and managerial skills.
Applying to an Online Nursing School
Depending on the program for which students are applying, providing documentation of previously earned degrees or certifications is the most important aspect of the application process. If a student is already an LPN and wants to enroll in a program leading to RN status, he or she will need to provide proof of LPN licensure before the online school will accept the student into their program.
Other items needed to apply include transcripts from previously attended schools, nursing employment experience or resume, copy of photo ID and social security card and method of payment.
Federal financial aid is available for students pursuing online nursing degrees. Visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid ( FAFSA ) website to submit the appropriate forms in order to determine eligibility. If a student’s income level falls below a certain standard, the Department of Education sends information to the online school at which the student applied regarding the amount of Pell Grants or other financial aid for which the student is eligible. This money will then be used to pay for tuition fees, with any excess aid reimbursed to students for purchase of textbooks and supplies.
Online Nursing Schools
Each online nursing school offers different programs to accommodate degree-seeking nursing students. For example, the University of Phoenix provides Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing with an emphasis on health management/administration; Master of Nursing degrees; Doctor of Philosophy degrees in nursing and a Doctor of Health in Administration.
Keiser Online University has associate’s of science in medical assisting programs, associate’s of arts in health service administration and master of nursing programs,
Kaplan University provides Bachelor of Science degrees for Health Sciences, Health Care Administration and Health and Wellness, RN to MS degrees and a master’s of science in nursing.
Walden University online nursing school offers BS degrees in Health Communication, Health Studies and Nursing; Master’s of Science in Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).
South University Online bachelor’s of science programs involve nursing, Health Sciences and Healthcare Management. In addition, this school also has a nursing specialization program dealing with nurse informatics for registered nurses seeking an RN to MSN degree.
Indiana State University provides an online LPN to BSN program that includes assistance with establishing clinical internship with a healthcare facility near the student’s location. Graduates of this program are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination.
The NCLEX Examination
Whether students take the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nursing (LPN) or Registered Nursing, they will need to initially apply to their state board of nursing, which then determines whether the student is eligible to take the test. Once eligibility is established, the student can register for the test by mailing a registration form or registering by phone. The cost to take either test is currently $200.
Subject matter of NCLEX examinations include such relevant topics to nursing as:
- Infection control
- Early disease detection
- Psychosocial coping and adaptivity
- Human physiology and anatomy
- Basic patient care
Students preparing to take the NCLEX exam can find help by accessing websites containing practice tests and study guides, such as the Nursing Review . In addition, books containing sample tests designed to help students pass the NCLEX include Mosby’s Review Questions for NCLEX-RN, Saunders Comprehensive Review for NCLEX-PN and Mosby’s Questions and Answers for NCLEX-PN.
Nursing students who fail the test are permitted to retake the test as many times as they wish. A diagnostic profile regarding the questions missed on the test is provided to the student in order for him or her to improve knowledge in those areas. However, it is the policy of the National Council that students wait at least 90 days before retaking a failed exam.
Wage Averages and Employment Outlook for Nursing Majors
Licensed practical nurses can expect to earn between $30,000 and $40,000 annually while a registered nurse’s yearly salary can be $50,000+, depending on degree type, where employed and experience. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly three million nursing jobs were available in 2010, with another 800,00 expected to appear over the next decade. This represents a 26 percent increase in the number of nursing positions remaining unfilled, a much faster than average rate in comparison to other employment opportunities.