Nursing is one of the most important, yet most under served professions available today. Nurses are health care providers, often part of a health care team, who have more direct access to patients than physicians do, and therefore often provide the point of contact between doctors and patients. In some cases, the nurse is the only health care provider the patient ever sees. There are numerous career options available for nurses, depending on location, preferences, and level of education. There are almost 3 million nurses in the United States, but the demand for more continue to grow at a rapid pace.
Nursing is the largest single job in the health care sector. Even with high numbers, there is a shortage of nurses, and almost every region and health care organization needs good nurses to serve its patients. Nurses need to have a special blend of intelligence, skill, patience, and compassion. Men and women who choose to serve the sick and suffering this way are usually remarkable people in their level of skillfulness in the care of others.
Many working nurses begin their training from nursing programs online. There is online education available for every level of nursing, from certified nurse assistants to PhDs. Each subsequent level of nursing requires more education, and many nurses find that taking online courses, and even acquiring further online degrees, is the most convenient way to keep working while participating in online nursing classes.
Online Nursing Programs
There are many different online nursing programs to choose from, including specializations and certifications, but most of these academic paths fall under a few general types of nursing programs. Listed below are a few of the available online programs:
- Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). If you’re a certified nurse’s assistant wanting to move up to the next level of nursing, taking programs from online nursing schools to become a licensed practical nurse may be your next step. LPNs work under the supervision of doctors and registered nurses, and typically provide bedside care. Licensed practical nurses are also often called licensed vocational nurses (LVN).
- Registered Nurse (RN). For those working as LPNs, you already have many of the classes needed to become certified as a registered nurse. This online degree program will help you evaluate and fulfill the required material to become an RN.
- Associate’s Degree (ASN). An associate’s online nursing degree is often enough to get you your certification as an RN. You can begin working in a health care setting almost immediately.
- Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). A bachelor’s degree in nursing is a step toward working in nursing, as well as getting more pay and receiving more responsibilities. Those with a BSN will find many more opportunities open to them.
- Associate’s Degree to Bachelor’s Degree. These nursing programs online are designed for those who have earned an associate’s degree in nursing and want to continue to a bachelor’s. It takes into account that you’ve had many of the necessary classes in your online associate’s work, and builds a program accordingly.
- Registered Nurse to Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN). Many registered nurses have associate’s degrees but not bachelor’s degrees. If you are already a RN, you can enter one of these online programs and work toward a bachelor’s degree, as benefit from the increased pay and opportunities that come with it.
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). If you already have a BSN, you may decide to look into a master’s degree in nursing to further your education and career advancement opportunities. This will help you further develop your expertise in whatever area of nursing you choose, including administration, and will qualify you to pursue an license as a nurse practitioner.
- PhD in Nursing. This is the ideal degree for any nurse wishing to go into hospital administration or university instruction. An online PhD in any area of nursing or administration will qualify you to teach others or to serve the health care system at its highest levels.
Online Nursing Degree Options
Most of the above programs will result in your earning a degree or a certification for a specific level of nursing. However, those aren’t the only online nursing degrees available to you. Some of the other degree options you have for your online nursing studies include:
- Master of Health Administration. This online degree is for those who have a bachelor’s degree and want to get further qualified in health administration.
- MSN in Health Care Education. For those with a BSN who want to teach about health topics in the community or within the health care system.
- Nurse Administrator Certificate. While not a degree, this online certification qualifies you for further administrative tasks within your health care organization.
- Master of Science in Nursing Informatics. Technology plays a great role in both patient care and administration. Informatics is the science of managing technology in aspects that impact the work of nurses.
- MSN Education Bridge. This is the online degree to pursue if you’re seeking certification as an RBN, but have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field.
- PhD in Nursing Education. With the high demand, there is a dire need for qualified nursing instructors to help train new nurses.
In addition to these online nursing degrees, there are several different certifications a nurse could obtain by taking online nursing classes. A few of them are:
- ACRN—AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
- CCTC—Certified Clinical Transplant Coordinator
- CNFP—Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
- CFRN—Certified Flight Registered Nurse
- CNM—Certified Nurse Midwife
- CRN—Certified Radiology Nurse
- CRNH—Certified Registered Nurse Hospice
- OCN—Oncology Certified Nurse
Nursing Professions, Careers, Salary
- An LPN, or licensed practical nurse, can do more than a certified nurse’s assistant, but does not hold as many responsibilities as a registered nurse, which means that LPNs are responsible for a great deal of patient care, but have fewer administrative tasks. Rapid growth is expected in this field, which averages pay rates between $35,020 and $44,690.
- Registered nurses are both administrators and a health care givers. They tend to patients and their families and communicate with doctors on health care decisions. They may work in hospitals, doctors’ offices, clinics, nursing homes, county health departments, birthing centers, or classrooms. The average salary is $63,880, and it is the fastest growing field in the country. It is expected that over half a million jobs a year will be added in the nursing field.
- Nurse practitioners are highly skilled and educated nurses work under the supervision of a doctor, but they are qualified to see patients alone, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe medication. As fewer doctors are available to work in underserved areas, and a nurse practitioner can be a common substitute. The average salary is $83,293.
- Nursing professor teaches and trains future nurses. An online PhD will qualify you to teach and train nurses for the future needs of the health care system. Health specialties professors average an income of $155,300 per year.
While the field of nursing has many levels, all are considered important aspects of the health care system. Those interested in a nursing program demonstrate patience and compassion, important qualities in a career that help maintain the welfare and health of people. The best online nursing schools offer comprehensive programs, balancing a core group of classes with real-work experience so that graduates are prepared to enter the workforce.