Aspiring nurses need to know that there are crucial factors to consider when choosing an online RN-BSN program. These issues may include quality of the curriculum, status of the school’s accreditation and opportunities for interaction with faculty and peers. Nursing is a career with stringent prerequisites for a very good reason: your career involves caring for people, and ensuring a positive and productive encounter each time is part of the nursing practice. Guidelines for qualifying to take the nursing licensure exam include a review of your academic accomplishments to ensure that your courses meet the standards set by the Board of Nursing in your state. This will ensure that you have gained the minimum competencies that will help you pass the licensing test. The program should provide basic knowledge of nursing philosophies, technical nursing skills and ethical issues in the health care field that will help you deliver quality patient care.

Importance of Accreditation

The institution offering the RN-BSN program should be accredited, and the program itself should have complied with accreditation requirements set forth by The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing or The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. With an accredited program and school, you can take advantage of federal and state grants to pay for your tuition and other school expenses. Additionally, your credits will transfer to another accredited institution should you choose to complete your program in another school or should you wish to pursue an advance degree in nursing. Make sure to verify the accreditation status before you commit to an online RN-BSN program.

Quality of the Curriculum

In general, if the program is accredited by one of the national nursing accreditation organizations, you can assume that the curriculum meets industry standards. The accreditation process is thorough, part of which may involve a review of anecdotal evidence indicating student success and completion rates. An accreditation is like a stamp of approval on the course curriculum, affirming that program content complies with standards set by experts to ensure that nurses learn the skills necessary to deliver quality care in different settings.

Interaction with Peers and the Instructional Team

An online RN-BSN program gives you the opportunity to go through the course at your own pace and based on your own schedule, so you can continue working as you pursue your degree. The downside is that there are fewer opportunities for face-to-face encounters with your peers and the faculty compared to a traditional nursing program. An online program may include a practicum where students are given clinical exposure, but most of the lessons are online. Make the most of opportunities to interact with your peers through online discussions and virtual classroom events. Additionally, you may want to look for a blended program that includes both traditional classroom and online, self-guided learning.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the demand for nurses will grow at a rate of 16 percent between 2014 and 2024, which is one of the highest growth rates considering all occupations. Earning the right credentials is the gateway to becoming part of this growth, but take note of the factors you should consider when choosing an online RN-BSN program. Ensuring that issues such as accreditation and program quality are addressed before you start the program improves your chances of building a successful and fulfilling nursing career.

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