Distance Learning for a Bachelor's in Nursing

Written by stephanie maatta
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Distance Learning for a Bachelor's in Nursing
Registered nurses remain in high demand. (nursing duties image by Pix by Marti from Fotolia.com)

Online degree programs provide convenient options for earning a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN). Traditional nursing schools and online colleges offer distance learning coursework to meet the needs and preferences of the individual student. Perspective students should consider several factors in the selection of a distance learning program, including method of course delivery and accreditation standards.

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Online and Site-based Education

Opportunities abound for people wanting to earn a BSN. Online schools and traditional universities offer bachelor's degree programs suited to the individual. Completing a degree through distance learning reduces barriers to education, including the limits of geographical location and time, providing advantages for the working adult or for someone who does not have direct access to a college or technical school.

BSN education through either online or site-based programs features two distinct components: the coursework, which may be completed online or in person; and the clinical requirements that must be completed at a medical facility. However, clinical rotations occur at a facility near the distance learner's home.

Coursework Completion

Coursework follows different patterns specific to the school offering the BSN program. University of Phoenix and Kaplan University, for example, offer courses fully online but following a structured format, while Dominican College and others offer accelerated weekend programs requiring students to attend class on campus during weekends. The length of time to complete the bachelor's degree varies by program, ranging from four years for a traditional BSN to 24 months for the accelerated weekend degrees.

Accreditation Standards

Accreditation of the BSN program ensures that the school of nursing adheres to standards of professional education and ethics. Along with the state and regional agencies that accredit colleges and universities, nursing programs hold separate professional accreditation from one of two external professional bodies: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC). When exploring BSN online degree programs, verify the accreditation status of the school of nursing; this ensures recognition of the degree and preparation as a nursing professional.

Education Requirements

Students approach the BSN program in several ways. They earn a bachelor's degree through a traditional four-year education at a university or college with an accredited nursing school. Or, they can complete a general education curriculum similar to other degree programs along with the specialised curriculum for nursing either through on-campus coursework or online. For individuals who hold either associates degrees or nursing diplomas as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), a bachelor's education can be accomplished by fulfilling general studies curriculum requirements offered through a school of nursing that lead to a university bachelor's degree. These LPN-to-BSN and RN-to-BSN programs, readily available through distance learning options, provide educational opportunities for working nurses to achieve promotion and enhance their credentials.

Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the demand for registered nurses remains high. In a May 2008 survey of nursing salaries, the BLS reports a median annual income of £40,592 with a range between £28,216 and £59,956. Salary level depends upon sub-speciality, degree and type of employer. As an occupation, nursing offers flexibility and mobility for individuals with a BSN.

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