How to Get a Nursing Degree Online

Aug 9, 2022

If you’ve chosen nursing as a career path, you’re in good company! Nursing employment is expected to grow faster than the national average between now and 2030, and in 2020, enrollment in nursing programs increased 5.6 percent. The past two years have been challenging for nurses, but one thing is for certain: There are few jobs as fulfilling or important as nursing.

For example, one University of Connecticut sophomore switched her major from education to nursing after watching nurses care for her 84-year-grandmother, who had both COVID-19 and cancer.

“They were switching out their protective gear in between every patient, running like crazy trying to make sure all of their patients were attended to,” she said. “I had that moment of clarity that made me want to jump right into health care and join the workers on the front line.”

Becoming a nurse is a challenging, rewarding goal, and getting your associate’s degree in nursing online is a flexible option for your busy schedule. Here’s a breakdown to help you get started:

  • The path to becoming a nurse
  • Choosing between an ADN and BSN
  • Finding the right online program

Know the Path to Become a Nurse

There are three major steps to becoming a nurse.

  1. Earn an RN diploma, an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). To earn your degree, you can complete either an in-person or online program. This typically takes two to four years depending on your course load.

  2. Work at a healthcare facility to gain clinical experience (often referred to as “clinicals”). During this step, you’ll have a clinical instructor who acts as your liaison between the healthcare facility and school, and they will be observing you as you shadow a staff nurse. The hour requirements vary, but you can typically expect to spend about 70 hours on clinicals.

  3. Pass the national RN examination (NCLEX-RN). This six-hour test focuses on four areas: providing a safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity.

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