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Debunking the 5 Biggest Myths About Online Nursing Degrees

Healthcare employers are increasingly demanding that RNs continue their education. While traditional BSN completion programs offer an excellent option for some students, the time, expense, and location of campus-based programs are often prohibitive for many working RNs.

Access to affordable, high-quality RN to BSN programs is critical to advancing a nurse's education today. Many nurses find that online schools offer an affordable and flexible way to advance their nursing career, but the concept of an online degree may be met with some resistance. The professors at the UT Arlington College of Nursing and Health Innovation have shed some light on the five of the biggest myths about online programs.

Myth: Degrees obtained online are different from campus-based degrees.


The truth: A BSN that is earned online from a university that is regionally accredited and a nursing program that is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is equivalent to the degree earned through the same campus-based program. Additionally, the degree will not indicate that the coursework was completed online. Both online and classroom-based programs follow university-approved curriculum and experienced university faculty teach all courses.

Myth: Classroom-based learning is the only real way to get an education.

The truth: According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 20% of all undergraduate students in the U.S. took at least one distance education course in 2007-2008. The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Education reveals that nearly 30% of undergrads took at least one course online last year, confirming that online learning is quickly gaining widespread acceptance throughout colleges and universities in the United States.

At UT Arlington College of Nursing, professors who teach on campus also teach the online courses. These professors believe that this innovative multi-media model is particularly well-suited for the adult learner. With a focus on evidence-based practice, critical thinking skills, leadership and management strategies, as well as community health advocacy, UT Arlington's Academic Partnership program is producing thousands of successful RN to BSN graduates.

Additionally, the Initiative on the Future of Nursing, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Institute of Medicine, believes that, “Online education creates flexibility and provides an additional skill set to students who will use technology into the future to retrieve and manage information.”

Myth: Taking courses online is isolating and I won’t get any attention from the professor or build relationships with other students.

The truth: The use of academic coaches helps to provide a personal and responsive learning environment for students. Working in sections of 25 to 30 students allows online students to connect with their professors, academic coaches and fellow students using email and discussion boards. In the UT Arlington RN to BSN program, we find that many students enjoy the flexibility and ease of communicating through the web-based user interface. In fact, many participants have expressed that they ask more questions and interact more freely during an online course than they would during a classroom-based course.

Myth: Online courses require expensive computer equipment and a high level of technical expertise.

The truth: The online RN to BSN students who enter the program with basic computer skills are able to complete all the coursework using their existing home computer or laptop with an Internet connection.

Myth: I work full-time and have a family, so I don’t have time for online coursework.

The truth: The UT Arlington RN to BSN online program is challenging; however, it has been designed to give working students the flexibility needed to log in and complete their coursework when it is most convenient for them. The majority of UT Arlington RN to BSN students continues to work as full-time nurses throughout their studies. Additionally, many students receive tuition reimbursement from their current employer for their degree program, making advancing their education with a BSN degree both affordable and accessible.

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