How to Get an Online Associate’s Degree in Nursing
Do you have a passion for the healthcare industry and for taking care of people? Nursing can be a great profession to pursue if you want to work in a hospital setting while making a decent income without spending many years on education to become a physician.
What do nurses do, exactly? Simply put, nurses are responsible for treating patients who are injured or ill, and also providing advice and emotional support to patients and their families when needed. They also take care of a lot of paperwork and help doctors diagnose patients, and provide advice and follow-up care to make sure patients are well taken care of.
Getting an associate’s degree in nursing is the first step toward becoming a registered nurse. It is especially a great start for those who may demonstrate interest in the field but are not 100% sure that it’s what they want to do as a career in the long run. An ADN program generally takes around two to three years to complete at a community college, and if you decide you would like to go one step up and earn your bachelor’s degree in nursing, the credits from your ADN program should transfer over as long as you pick an accredited college. The ADN program will cover nursing topics on a more general level to give students a solid overview of topics they are expected to know and use on the job. Regardless of which degree you choose to pursue, you will have to also pass a licensing board exam prior to beginning work.
Pursuing an associate’s degree in nursing online is a great choice for students who have busy schedules and need the flexibility for school. Maybe you are a busy parent, or you already work a part-time or even full-time job. The good news is: If you are a motivated and independent learner, distance learning can work very well for you. By virtually attending classes online, you will have access to all course materials and participate in class discussions just like you would normally in a traditional classroom setting. The main difference is that you would be doing all of this on your own time and interacting with your professors and peers via email or a designated classroom platform.
While distance learning is a convenient option for many, it is also crucial to consider that nursing is an extremely hands-on profession. With that said, even though most classes for online programs take place in a virtual classroom, students are usually required to also conduct clinical projects within their local community to apply what they have learned in the classroom and gain hands-on working experience.
Common Associate’s in Nursing Curriculum
The associate’s degree program in nursing is designed to provide a solid groundwork for students required to become a registered nurse. Upon completion, students can aim for entry-level work opportunities, or choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree, which generally takes another two years to complete.
Some popular classes that prospective nurses take include anatomy, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, psychology, and nursing practice and theory. Again, the associate’s degree program will only provide a glimpse of each, while the bachelor’s degree program will provide more detail and depth into each of these aspects. While taking these classes, you will learn important nursing skills like patient care, clinical decision making, and confidence, while gaining a well-rounded perspective on healthcare and nursing.
In addition to science and nursing-related courses, students will also have general education requirements and electives to complete, which will vary from college to college. These classes are usually not related to the field. They are designed to give students the opportunity to explore other subjects while getting a well-rounded foundation of knowledge that will come in handy when it comes to understanding real-life situations and succeeding in whatever career they choose to be in. For example, students may have an introductory course in math, business, history, language, and fine arts, to name a few.
After finishing the program and general education requirements, students will need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam before actually becoming a nurse. This test comprises of anywhere from 75-265 questions and covers a lot of the information required to excel as a nurse.
Associate’s in Nursing Careers
Healthcare is a booming industry and will not fizzle out any time soon, seeing as how it is inevitable that people get sick every now and then, and need to see a doctor as a result. With that said, the job prospects for nurses look pretty bright in doctors’ offices.
Generally speaking, most nurses coming out of college will start out as staff nurses at a hospital. In this setting, you will learn how to work with a doctor, interact with patients, and complete necessary administrative tasks. After some years of experience, you could advance to a better shift or a shift management role. Registered nurses also have the potential of being promoted to head nurse or assistant unit manager.
After finishing your associate’s degree in nursing and deciding it is the right path for you, you may also find that pursuing a bachelor’s degree in a related field can open up more career options. An advanced degree can help you take on leadership roles such as chief of nursing, assistant director, director, or vice president, to name a few.
Outside of the hospital setting, you may also find nurses working in assisted living homes and the like.
While nursing can be a rewarding career, it is also important to keep in mind that there is a lot more than what meets the eye when it comes to working as a nurse. In fact, it is one of the most difficult jobs out there because nurses often times have to work undesirable hours, deal with emotionally unstable or really sick patients, and handle various bodily fluids. Nursing is certainly not for everyone, but if you want to work a job where you can save someone’s life, this job could be perfect for you.
Registered nurses that work at hospitals generally make an annual average of $63,000. On top of competitive pay, nurses are rewarded with the feeling of helping those who need them. Just like other healthcare professionals, nurses are entitled to fantastic employee benefits including medical, dental, and vision insurance at discounted rates. Most nurses also get paid holidays and vacations, sick time, and personal time off. Many organizations will also provide retirement plans like pensions and 401(k)s.