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In distance education, a student may be thousands of miles from fellow classmates and teachers, yet numerous individuals pursue online degrees in disciplines like nursing. The process for pursuing a distance learning nursing degree is similar to pursuing an average nursing degree. Research, obtainment of proper application materials, and actual application remain a typical standard. Most variances with traditional programs will be found in the structure of learning activities.
The first crucial step involves location of a reputable distance learning nursing degree program. As with most online endeavors, diligent research will equip a prospective student with sound decision-making. Individuals should learn whether an institution is accredited and whether it has a solid means of contact. Many undergraduate institutions offer distance learning options while some online schools specialize in distance learning. Any reputable places of business usually have a well-maintained and thorough Web site and accessible staff to address any potential students’ concerns. Licensed instructors are another must.
A reputable institution will also generally require certain guidelines for admission. References, personal statements, and high school or undergraduate performance records are frequently requested by distance learning programs. Licensure proofs such as test scores for the National Council Licensure Examination in the United States may be needed for master’s programs. Students will then typically fill out an application for the nursing institution and apply for financial aid. When accepted, the student may be required to maintain a certain level of academic performance in order to remain enrolled in the program.
In many respects, obtainment of a distance learning nursing degree parallels acquisition of a traditional degree. Students may work toward either a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in many institutions, with concentrations in areas like administration, education, and Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse training. Most programs also contain a full course load with all the classes that a regular nursing school program would offer, such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and specialty nursing classes. Further, time requirements are similar, with distance learning nursing degree obtainment averaging around two to four years depending on degree type and course load. Some institutions also allow transfer credits from traditional courses or from test scores.
Some differences from traditional programs will arise in the pursuit of a distance learning nursing degree. Methods of instruction will vary, and can make use of various resources including e-mail correspondence, web cams, CD-ROM packets, instructional web sites, and message boards or chat rooms. Tuition rates may run lower as well. The lack of interpersonal instructor interaction, the decreased opportunity for hands-on instructional and laboratory activities, and a possible lack of internship opportunities should also be taken under advisement while pursuing a distance learning nursing degree.
Individuals may wish to pursue a distance education nursing degree for a number of reasons. People normally inhibited to educational pursuits by other priorities like work, parenting, inability to commute, or military commitments might find distance learning advantageous. In addition, many online assignments are available to complete at any time of the day, allowing students to work at an individual pace whenever free time is available. Further, pressure that a more formal classroom atmosphere can produce may be alleviated.