Over the past two years, the general public has greatly admired nurses and other healthcare professionals who have nursed our country back to health after the pandemic. These hardworking and diligent professionals inspired many people to consider nursing as a career choice.
Nursing is a career with many benefits including financial security, healthcare benefits, retirement benefits, and even travel opportunities. The healthcare sector is continually evolving with new research and challenges, offering those working in the medical field opportunities to learn, grow, and increase their skillset.
If nursing school is already on your radar, you might just be looking for the right time to get started. Returning to school is a big decision, and finding the time and resources is an essential step in that process. In this article, we will explore pre and post-pandemic nursing degree options and why there is no time like the present to begin your online nursing degree.
The Pandemic and the Nursing Program:
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing students were at a large disadvantage. Most examinations were delayed as part of university measures to protect students and employees from contracting and spreading the virus. For example, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), a critical examination required of all nursing graduates, was stalled at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, which created a backlog of students waiting to take the exam.
On the other hand, some students in the nursing program were fast-tracked into their nursing careers. ICU nurses learned quickly and on the floor due to the state of emergency driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, nurses at the beginning of their careers faced extreme challenges as the virus evolved. They often experienced exhaustion and burnout much earlier than their peers in the healthcare industry. Nursing programs have since grown to reflect these challenges and better prepare their students.
Despite challenges in the healthcare sector during the pandemic, there have been many positive changes in the nursing field as we navigate the tail-end of the pandemic.
Post-Pandemic Nursing Programs:
There is no time like the present to begin your online nursing degree! Nationwide healthcare programs have refined their online training offerings, and more universities have moved their nursing programs online, making nursing degrees more accessible than ever before!
Many online nursing programs offer bachelor’s programs all the way through doctoral. For instance, the University of Central Florida offers the same rigorous and cutting-edge nursing curriculum online as they do on campus. Online nursing students will graduate with the necessary skill set and expertise to thrive in their careers.
Not only are there more online programs than before the pandemic, but the examination process has been modified per COVID-19 restrictions. For example, the NCLEX exam has been reduced from six to four hours, leading to fewer questions. So now, there’s less stress and fewer hours under examination!
Upon graduation, future nurses should consider the rise of telehealth and the need for qualified professionals in the online healthcare sector. Now, more than ever, there are opportunities for nurses to work from home with web-based healthcare options.
Finally, nursing is a career pathway with many advancement opportunities. There are many interest-driven avenues a nurse can take when advancing their careers. Some examples include:
- Nurse Practitioner
- Nurse Midwife
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Manager
- Nurser Educator
Each advancement opportunity includes a salary increase which varies area by area and has increased responsibilities and new rewarding challenges. In addition, some of those advancement opportunities will require advanced certifications and training to add to the nurse’s skillset. There are many opportunities for growth in this sector, and with the evolution of healthcare research, the possibilities are endless.
The healthcare sector underwent a crash course on the value of medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many changes have been made over the past two years to recruit more nurses and make nursing degrees more widely available through online programs. Here are just a few benefits of becoming a nursing student today:
- More accredited online nursing degree programs
- Shorter examinations
- A growing online healthcare sector (more jobs!)
- Work from home options
- Increasing demand for travel nurses (and competitive rates)
- Advancement opportunities
- Job security