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    How Nurses Can Still Go to School During COVID-19

    The COVID-19 pandemic may have some aspiring nursing students hesitating to further their education. But online nursing programs have been teaching students remotely for many years. Unlike traditional programs, they have had more time and experience to iron out the kinks of online learning. 

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    COVID-19 Could Change Nursing Education Forever

    In recent weeks, social distancing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic have profoundly changed how nursing students are learning around the globe. With 70% of America's schools closed, many universities are scrambling to train nurse educators on how to conduct distance learning, as well as inform students how to complete coursework from home.

    The COVID-19 pandemic may also encourage many nurses to seek higher education to move away from the bedside and work in administrative roles. 

    Suddenly (and some would say finally) there is worldwide awareness that nurses are a valuable resource, and we need more of them, now more than ever.

    If you are an aspiring R.N., BSN, MSN, or doctoral nursing student you may want to consider advancing your nursing career through an online nursing program. Here's why:

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    5 Reasons to Consider an Online Nursing Program

    1.) Flexibility and Convenience

    A huge benefit of online nursing education is having the flexibility to study when it is most convenient for you. Students can do their school work when it fits into their schedule naturally, at any time of day or night.

    Most importantly, online learning keeps schools in session during the COVID-19 outbreak, despite social distancing measures and school closures.

    2.) Interactive Learning Experiences

    Online classrooms use alternative technology for learning, such as interactive videos, written materials, and recorded or real-time lectures to educate students. In this ever-evolving and technology-driven learning environment, students have more options to learn, often through online chats (such as Zoom) or virtual reality. This has the potential to create a more immersive learning experience than a traditional classroom setting can.

    Phyllis James, Program Director at Aspen University, was tasked with overhauling parts of their online nursing program that included in-person clinical rotations to prevent disruption of student learning during the current shutdown.

    "In response to anticipation of clinical cancellations and limitations in face-to-face contact, my faculty and staff developed a strategic plan with the goal for students to have the number and quality of experiences to successfully complete the clinical, lab, and simulation components of the course in a "virtual environment"," Phyllis stated. This kind of innovative programming is something online programs are known for. 

    3.) Advancement Opportunities for Busy Nurses

    Online education has given working nurses, as well as busy parents a unique opportunity to advance their education in a way that may be more difficult with a traditional classroom setting. Additionally, online programs can allow for some semblance of a work/life balance by letting students squeeze in their education wherever they can.

    Studying online offers the flexibility to manage personal obligations such as family, school, and work. James added that flexibility means students "need the self-discipline necessary to be able to complete your nursing studies online. Without a structured classroom schedule, you will be responsible for making sure you have enough time to read through the class materials and for completing your assignments on time."

    4.) RN, BSN, MSN, and Doctoral Programs are Available

    Online nursing programs offer post-licensure degree programs, including RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP. Many operate 100% online, which means students can continue to learn without disruption.

    5.) Affordability

    The cost of nursing education might be a deterrent for an aspiring nursing student, but many online programs offer more affordable programs. Since online programs have less overhead, they typically cost less than brick-and-mortar programs.

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    With Online Nursing Programs, You Can Still Advance Your Education

    "Online students can help keep themselves engaged by connecting with other online students to create groups for study sessions or reminders for upcoming assignments or tests," James says. In addition, "learning to navigate in the online format can help to advance technology skills essential in today's healthcare environment."

    As nurses learn new technology through online nursing education, they can bring that knowledge with them into the healthcare environment to make communication faster and more efficient.

    This is a time of unparalleled disruption, but if you have been considering a degree in nursing, an online program may make sense now, more than ever. 

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