5 Concerns About Returning to Nursing School Online

The digital age has significantly impacted everyone. Some companies went digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, while others had gone online long before the pandemic.

A Registered Nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree online, while intimidating to some, is growing in popularity and demand. The healthcare field is working to fill widespread need for nurses and evolve with the changing healthcare landscape.

As more educational institutions offer online courses, nursing professionals increasingly consider these online programs. However, they face several concerns when contemplating a return to school via this medium. Here, we address five common concerns — and debunk them:

1) “I’m Too Old to Go Back to School”: A Misunderstood Barrier in Modern Education

It’s no surprise that with the swift advancement in technology and evolving methodologies in education, many assume age could hinder adaptation. This apprehension isn’t just about grasping new information: it’s deeply rooted in the perception that older generations are resistant to change or slower at integrating new systems into their routines.

However, statistics present a different narrative. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides a compelling counter to the age-related concern. In 2022, they highlighted that the median age for registered nurses (RNs) was 46. This data point isn’t merely a number. It symbolizes that a significant portion of nurses, who are well into their careers and have seen the healthcare industry’s evolution, are still actively part of the workforce.

Furthermore, the perspective on age and education is shifting, evident in broader professional spheres. Lifehack, a prominent resource on personal and professional development, sheds light on this changing mindset. It emphasizes that many professionals across various fields are returning to academic environments in their 40s. Far from seeing age as a constraint, they leverage life experiences, maturity and previously acquired skills to enhance learning. The 40s are now viewed less as a period of professional stagnation and more as a prime window for career advancement and enrichment.

2) “I Don’t Have the Time or Flexibility”: Redefining Learning for Working Professionals

One of the primary roadblocks professionals encounter when considering further education, especially those juggling work and family commitments, is time. Traditional brick-and-mortar institutions typically operate on fixed schedules that demand significant in-person attendance, which might not be feasible for everyone — especially those with full-time jobs or familial responsibilities.

However, the modern educational landscape is transforming to cater to this challenge. Radford University’s RN to BSN online program is a prime example of this shift. Recognizing the constraints of working professionals, the program has been meticulously designed to accommodate their needs. While traditional courses take years, this program offers an expedited path, allowing students to complete their coursework in as few as 10 months. This means a faster route to advancement and minimal disruption to existing routines.

But it’s not just about the speed of completion: it’s about reliability. Traditional in-person courses, while valuable, are vulnerable to disruptions. Be it natural calamities, socio-political issues or global health crises like the COVID-19 pandemic, physical classes can be suspended — leading to uncertain delays. On the other hand, online learning platforms provide a consistency that is hard to match.

3) “I Can’t Afford the Cost”: Analyzing Costs and Returns in Online Education

Financial considerations rank high when contemplating further education. It’s not just about the immediate tuition fees but also the ripple effect on one’s personal and professional life. Traditional schooling often comes with a hefty price tag, but it also requires additional expenses — many of which go unnoticed at first glance.

Online programs, in contrast, offer a more nuanced financial landscape. They often have a more competitive tuition structure, saving on various overhead costs — a portion of which transfers to students through reduced fees.

The savings don’t stop there. Unlike traditional schools, where learners must factor in transportation or possibly even relocation, online students are exempt from these considerations. There are no daily commutes, gas expenses or vehicle wear. In addition, the indirect costs — like meals on-the-go or campus-specific materials — are minimized.

However, the actual value of an investment in online education goes beyond immediate costs. A BSN is more than just a degree: it’s a gateway. Acquiring a BSN solidifies one’s foundational knowledge and opens opportunities for specialization and advanced roles in healthcare. These roles often come with enhanced responsibilities and, consequently, increased compensation. The earning potential after attaining a BSN can significantly outweigh the initial expenditure — leading to a favorable return on investment.

4) “I’m Apprehensive About Online Learning”: Navigating the Digital Landscape

The digital realm can seem daunting to many. There’s fear about the unfamiliarity of e-learning platforms and online assessments. However, an article from Education Corner emphasizes that institutions provide a vast selection of resources to aid online students. Many programs offer orientation sessions, tutorials and 24/7 technical support. Additionally, the resilience of online courses can provide a more consistent learning experience compared to the disruptions faced in in-person settings.

5) “I’ll Miss the In-Person Connection”: Importance of Building Virtual Communities

In a world where human touch, direct conversation and physical presence have been central to forming connections, it’s understandable to fear the loss of that intimacy in a digital environment. For many, the classroom isn’t just a place of learning. It’s a space for shared experiences, camaraderie and the forging of lasting bonds. Naturally, shifting this experience to a screen might seem distant and impersonal.

Yet, today’s online learning is not about isolated learners navigating solitary paths. It’s about crafting dynamic digital communities that offer interactions, albeit in a different format. Institutions, aware of the importance of human connection in learning, have gone to great lengths to infuse their online programs with a sense of community.

Don’t Let Fear Keep You From Career Opportunities

The concerns about returning to nursing school online are grounded in genuine feelings and apprehensions. When viewed in the light of current evidence and the ever-evolving digital education landscape, prospective students can navigate these concerns. With the right mindset and support, nurses can take full advantage of online programs to further their careers and achieve their educational aspirations.

Learn more about Radford University’s online RN to BSN program.

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