Healthcare employers increasingly require that registered nurses (RNs) continue their education. While traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (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 programs offer an affordable and flexible way to advance their nursing careers. But, while the COVID-19 pandemic forced the normalization of online, remote education for many, the concept of an online degree in nursing may still be met with some resistance. The professors at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) College of Nursing and Health Innovation have shed some light on five of the biggest myths about online programs.
Myth 1: Degrees Obtained Online Are Different From Campus-based Degrees
The truth: A BSN degree earned online from a regionally accredited university and a nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is equivalent to a BSN earned through the same campus-based program. Additionally, the degree will not indicate that the coursework was completed online. Both online and classroom-based accredited programs follow university-approved curricula, and experienced university faculty teach all courses.
Myth 2: Classroom-based Learning Is the Only Real Way to Get an Education
The truth: According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the “flexible learning opportunities” that online education can provide “became especially important in the spring of 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic began to disrupt education in the United States.” About 75% of all undergraduate students in the U.S. took at least one remote education course in 2020. Forty-four percent of undergrad students took remote learning courses exclusively that year.
While these figures have logically changed since the height of the pandemic, online education continues to be a key part of the postsecondary educational ecosystem. NCES reports that roughly 60% of postsecondary students took online education courses in 2021. Clearly, online learning has gained widespread and lasting acceptance throughout colleges and universities in the United States.
At UTA, professors who teach on campus also teach online courses. These professors believe that the innovative multi-media model is particularly well-suited for adult learners. As noted in a Forbes article, well-executed remote education models can optimize learning experiences for students, increasing retention and engagement. With a focus on evidence-based practice, critical thinking skills, leadership and management strategies, and community health advocacy, UTA’s online RN to BSN program produces thousands of successful BSN-prepared nurses.
Myth 3: Taking Courses Online Is Isolating, and I Won’t Get Any Attention From the Professor or Build Relationships With Other Students
The truth: Using 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. UTA offers a number of dedicated student services to assist online students in completing the RN to BSN program successfully.
Plus, many students enjoy the flexibility and ease of communicating through the web-based virtual classroom platforms used by online programs. In fact, some students find they ask more questions and interact more freely during online courses than they would during a classroom-based course. For instance, introverted students may have an easier time engaging and interacting without the social pressure that in-person environments can add.
Myth 4: Online Courses Require Expensive Computer Equipment and a High Level of Technical Expertise
The truth: Online RN to BSN students who enter the program with basic computer skills can complete all coursework using their existing home computer or laptop with an Internet connection. In fact, the flexibility of online learning allows students to complete coursework anywhere at any time, given an internet connection and a mobile device. The increasing availability of mobile hotspots, the modern tethering capabilities of mobile devices and new government programs intended to increase access to affordable high-speed internet all support the potential of online programs to improve access to education for all students.
Myth 5: I Work Full-time and Have a Family, so I Don’t Have Time for Online Coursework
The truth: The UTA 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 UTA’s RN to BSN students continue 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.
Plus, UTA’s online RN to BSN can be completed in as few as nine months. Students can choose to accelerate degree completion and put their degree to work in less than a year. Or they can take their education at a slower pace — whatever best suits their busy family and work schedules. This flexibility and adaptability are hallmarks of online learning, allowing nurses to advance their education and careers in the most convenient way possible.
Learn more about UTA’s online RN to BSN program.