Every day, colleges and universities are working with their home states to devise distance learning nursing degrees, accelerated nursing programs, and other measures that will help them turn out larger numbers of qualified nursing graduates. The healthcare industry is reaching a crisis point when it comes to nurses, as the current nursing population nears retirement and not enough new nurses are there to replace them. Estimates peg the nursing shortage to be anywhere between 800,000 to 1 million nurses by 2015.
There are several reasons why not enough new nurses are coming down the pipeline, including:
Miscommunication between the healthcare industry and the public.
Antiquated school systems that are only able to serve a limited number of students.
Students being put on waiting lists for classes.
Students being unable to afford high tuition costs.
A lack of qualified nursing educators to staff overcrowded classrooms.
Most of these aren’t anyone’s fault, and have simply arisen because of a complex interplay of factors like the age of the current nursing population, the fact that more people choose to become nurses than nurse educators, and the fact that the age at which advanced degree nurses are entering the workforce has been rising consistently for the past few years.
How Distance Learning Nursing Degrees Work
Distance learning programs allow nursing students to get their degrees without having to go to a classroom every day. For this reason, they’re good for working professionals that can’t fit classes into their work schedule, students that live far from a college campus, and other people who can’t get to an actual class. They rely on things like telecourses and other online learning tools to present material to students without the need for an instructor or classroom. Most of them still require textbooks and workbooks, and students may have to go to their campus regularly in order to take exams or present projects.
Distance learning nursing degrees work for students because they are more flexible, and frequently less expensive than traditional classroom-based education. They work for schools because they allow them to reach more students, without having to impact their classroom-based programs. Lastly, they work for hospitals because they enable schools to turn out more of the qualified nursing graduates that hospitals need for staffing.
It should be noted that most states’ Board of Nursing require students to put in a certain number of hours of hands on work before they can take their certification exams to become licensed practical/vocational nurses or registered nurses. Even with distance learning nursing degrees, students are still responsible for meeting these requirements before they can take their exams.
How to Avoid Being Scammed
Sometimes, things that sound too good to be true, are. Every state’s Board of Nursing maintains a list of nursing programs that meet their educational requirements. In order to be able to take a certification exam after graduation, all of a nursing student’s coursework must be done as part of one of these programs. Almost every state has nursing programs that are not actually approved programs. They may be offered by a fully accredited institution, but that doesn’t mean that the program itself is approved. What’s worse, many schools will attempt to represent their programs as being approved, when they aren’t. It doesn’t matter if a student was mislead into thinking a nursing program was legitimate, they will not be able to take their exams until they have passed an approved nursing degree program.
To avoid this mess, anyone considering any nursing degree, including a distance learning degree, must contact the Board of Nursing for a list of approved programs. The Board only sets the requirements, and schools only teach students- it’s the students’ responsibility to ensure that they are in the correct program.
Distance learning nursing degrees allow schools to educate students that they couldn’t teach otherwise. When these programs are approved by a state’s Board of Nursing, they generally have pass rates that are comparable to traditional, classroom-based instruction, and turn out nurses that are every bit as qualified to work in the healthcare industry.