News & Articles

The benefits of an online nursing education for all ages

Date: August 18, 2016

As a busy nursing professional, going back to school may seem like a challenge. Between workplace and personal commitments, it can be difficult to find the time to travel to a campus and sit in a classroom for hours during the middle of the day. However, your professional career should not stand in the way of your academic aspirations and subsequent opportunities for workplace advancement. Earning a master’s degree can take your career to the next level, and thanks to advancing technology, you now can complete it at the time and place of your choosing through distance learning strategies.

Online degree programs are an increasingly common option for working professionals of all ages — including nurses — who are looking to advance their careers. Wherever you are in your nursing journey, consider whether an online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is the right next step for you.

Earning an online degree

There are a number of reasons you might choose to pursue an MSN degree. In the increasingly competitive field of nursing, a master’s can set you apart from others when you are applying for a new position or a promotion. It also can help you to qualify for a number of additional positions, such as nurse practitioner, nurse educator or nurse manager. Some nurses choose to pursue an MSN for the salary benefits. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for a registered nurse was $67,490. The BLS reported that nurses who hold the MSN degree earn a median salary of $104,740.

For whatever reason you are pursuing the degree, the option to learn remotely is making earning your MSN easier than ever before. The flexibility especially can be helpful if you are an older student who may have professional or personal commitments that would make enrolling in a more traditional program difficult.
Nursing is one of the most popular options for online degrees. According to a 2015 report by Aslanian Market Research and the Learning House, only the Master of Business Administration is a more popular choice among online students. The survey revealed that 5.5 percent of the graduate-level respondents were enrolled in nursing programs. The major is also a popular choice for undergraduate students, with 5.2 percent of undergraduate online students.

Man working at a laptop

Navigating the online degree process

Some nurses who did not grow up using computers in education may be hesitant to enroll in an online degree program, especially if they already have been out of school for a while. But even if you are continuing your education after an absence or are not familiar with online coursework, you do not need to worry about the technological side of the distance learning process.

When you enroll in Bradley University’s online MSN program, you will complete an online Nursing Student Orientation several weeks before you begin classes that will help you to become familiar with the online format of your coursework, as well as the resources that are available to you. It also will help you to become acclimated to Sakai, an online course learning platform that is used in the MSN program.

At the start of the term, you will receive a welcome video that covers the following topics:

  • Program overview
  • Student support coach role
  • Faculty academic advisor role
  • MyOnline
  • HelpDesk
  • BUnet ID
  • Clinical information
  • Resources
  • Health requirements
  • Orientation
  • Instructor support
  • Textbooks

By choosing to learn remotely, you still will enjoy the benefits of an education at a physical location. For example, though you may not be learning in a classroom, sitting next to other students, there is still an important community aspect of online learning. You will be able to connect with instructors and other students and learn from their experiences and insights. You are never alone when you enroll in Bradley’s online MSN program.

In the program, you also will gain the hands-on experience that is critical for a nursing student. While you pursue your degree, you will partner with an approved local health care facility to complete clinical experiences in conjunction with your coursework.

Setting yourself apart

When you earn your MSN through Bradley’s online program, you can be confident that you are earning a degree that is worth your investment. Bradley University’s nursing program is ranked in the top 6 percent of schools in the region according to Nursing Schools Almanac. In February 2016, Bradley reported a 100 percent pass rate on the NCLEX exam with 78 students taking the test. The National pass rate of NCLEX is 85 percent and the Illinois pass rate is 86 percent.

Employers are increasingly willing to accept degrees that are earned online after initial training has been completed. According to U.S. News & World Report, most employers view online degrees favorably and are more interested in the skills and knowledge that the candidate gained through the program than how it was completed.

Earning an MSN not only will set you apart from the competition for jobs and promotions and increase your earning potential but also help you to provide the best possible quality of care to your patients. With a higher degree, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are doing your job to the best of your ability, and your managers and colleagues will recognize that fact, as well. Take your professional aspirations to the next level by enrolling in Bradley University’s online MSN program today.