In today’s job market, more people are looking for meaningful, fulfilling careers that aren’t necessarily subject to the economic winds that blow through other industries, which is making an online nursing degree a popular option for many people.
The United States is in the midst of a nationwide nurse shortage with millions of patients underserved and not getting all the care they need. The problem is only expected to grow as more Baby Boomers mover toward retirement and need increased medical care.
Indeed, the shortage spans all areas of healthcare, from hospitals and private clinics to nursing homes and at-home care. To meet the expanding need, it’s going to take a new generation of qualified, caring and talented nurses with the education needed to effectively care for patients.
Finding an Online Nursing Degree Program
When looking for an online nursing degree program, accreditation is key. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is one of the premier national agencies and is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education. The CCNE identifies those education programs that adequately prepare students to enter the professions. Every accredited school had to pass rigorous requirements and vetting to earn that status.
Those interested in a degree should research vocational schools, colleges and universities in the area to determine what option will best suit their learning style and lifestyle. Many students take hybrid courses that allow the freedom to take some courses online and others in person.
Choosing an online nursing degree should be done carefully. Besides accreditation, clinical experience is a crucial part of schooling and even online programs should be able to offer students opportunities to gain experience in a real-world medical environment.
Getting Licensed as an RN or LPN
Before a nurse is permitted to legally practice, he or she must become licensed through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
The NCSBN certifies Registered Nurses (RN) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). Every hospital, clinic or nursing facility is legally obligated to hire only those who are licensed to practice.
To become licensed, graduates will have to hold a degree from an accredited institution and pass an examination administered by the NCSBN.
Job Outlook and Salary Potential
registered nurses will experience excellent job opportunities for at least the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Through 2020, employment is expected to grow by 26 percent.
The growth is due in part to a higher level of turnover among hospital nurses. To attract and keep hospital nurses, many hospitals offer a high salary, signing bonuses, family-friendly schedules and excellent benefits.
Other factors for the increased need is a larger population on senior citizens, who live longer and require more personalized care. This will lead to plenty of job opportunities in home care and nursing care facilities.
An online nursing degree can be the key to a great salary. Registered nurses working in hospitals earn around $66,650 annually and receive very competitive benefits, vacation time and scheduling.
An online nursing degree will also open up opportunities in a number of growing industries as the private realm continues to grow.
Finding the right online nursing degree program will help ensure a fulfilling and rewarding future – a perfect combination for those who enjoy helping and taking care of people.