Digitalization is rapidly taking over the physical world in almost every sphere nowadays. The education sector is also at the forefront, where innovations transform how students learn new skills and knowledge. Online academic programs are attracting students from across the globe. Students can pursue education from institutes miles apart from their current location. They do not have to be physically present to access lectures and study materials and participate in discussions. Given that, the online option offers an economic advantage over physical education.
Though online education is a convenient and cost-effective alternative, it may not be viable for every program. For example, the curriculum of a nursing degree can only impart learning if the students are involved in hands-on experience. Otherwise, students cannot grasp the methodology of even simple procedures like examining vitals. Later on, hands-on experience also acts as a proficiency parameter from the recruitment point of view. Thus if you have confusions like these and others, it is essential to resolve them before you embark on the virtual learning journey. The following sections mention some steps to simplify choosing an online nursing program.
- Brainstorm about degree programs and specialties
Nursing is a generic field and contains several branches and specialties. Before jumping into the application process, think about your preferences and whether it is available online or not. Chances are it will be, but it is wise to choose a specialization that aligns with your goals.
For instance, if you’re into senior care, an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioners (AGACNP) can cater to a broad range of patients, including adolescents and the elderly. Thus nurses pursuing an AGACNP master’s degree can easily ensure their employability in any healthcare setup. Future demands of such specialties have an increasing trend because of an increase in the old age population of the world. Similarly, if you have a knack for investigation, consider looking for forensic nursing programs, and so on.
- Identify prerequisites of the program
Mostly, institutes offering distance learning options ask students to justify their candidature and eligibility with standardized tests. For instance, language proficiency via International English Language Testing System or Occupational English Testing certification is a must-have admission criterion for several foreign nursing and medicine schools. These test scores help identify students’ potential and suitability for their chosen program and even the institute itself.
Some programs also require candidates to succeed in field-related preliminary examinations, such as an objective structured clinical exam (OSCE). This examination requires nurses to demonstrate their medicine and clinic-related expertise through a series of evaluation procedures. This examination is one of the prerequisites for nurses to pursue a higher degree or specialization programs and even employment opportunities. And they need to be physically present to perform procedures. Thus you should review if your preferred program also has such requirements and plan accordingly.
- Ensure accreditation of the institute
The institute’s standing plays a big part in the professional development of students. A reputable institute gives you relevant and sufficient skills to land in the market and succeed. In contrast, many employers do not prefer candidates from barely recognizable institutes. It is because ranking, accreditation, and success ensure employers about the candidate’s potential.
The institute also helps you build a professional circle since people foresee their social relationships as a long-term investment of their time and effort. Thus if the institute does not fulfill fundamental prerequisites, associating with it will be a wastage of resources. Such institutes may not provide you with the necessary exposure apart from education. In the end, you cannot ensure your employability and growth prospects. Thus, before you choose a nursing program degree, confirming the accreditation of an institute is the most fundamental requirement.
- Conduct thorough research of the program and institute
If you choose an unsuitable program, you will have to make up for the mistake for the rest of your professional career. You should carry out prior research and background check. You should start by thoroughly going through the institute’s website and accustom yourself to its services and reliability. This review will clarify several ambiguities regarding the programs, institute, and relevant faculties.
You can also familiarize yourself with the program duration, fees, and structure. This information is going to transform how you pursue your education. Let’s say the program is a combination of in-person and online commitment. Thus apart from distance and travel, living and maintenance costs will be another hurdle if the institute is not in your city/country. The more you research, the better you will get acquainted with the institute, program, and prerequisites. In the end, your journey will be smooth and result-oriented.
- Communicate with the institute’s representatives
Even though higher education institutes have comprehensive information on their websites, direct conservation with the administration helps clarify the confusion. If you keep struggling on your own, you will waste your time and may miss the deadline or prerequisites. Thus having an in-person or telephonic conversation is always good to resolve your queries.
Administrative staff can provide a detailed brief about the program, its application formalities and process, and structure in detail. They can also tell you about funding alternatives or scholarships and their procedure if you need financial assistance. You can also find out if you need to submit separate applications for admission and scholarship. They can also connect you to the relevant faculty or representative, which will save your time.
- Talk to other students
If you are still unclear and want to get more information, ask the students, including alumni. They can answer some of your queries that you could not resolve with the interaction with the administration. Students can tell you how they acquired hands-on experience while pursuing online education. You can ask them how to gain hands-on experience with remote learning. They can tell you about the resources they utilized. Different views can help you make a guided decision rather than face challenges later.
An online nursing program is a convenient option for aspirants to pursue their dreams. However, you should invest sufficient time to find out about the program of your interest and its prospects. This preliminary endeavor will help you cash the benefits later in the future. After all, education is an expensive investment, and any careless decision can ruin your hard work, which you certainly do not want.