Please enjoy this post by guest blogger, Sophia Bernazzani.
Are you putting off an advanced nursing degree because you’re worried you’ll need to put your life on hold? The good news is that many online graduate nursing programs, such as Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) programs, offer the same quality, support, and hands-on opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. Busy health care professionals no longer have to compromise work and family commitments in order to further their education.
The Upside to Online FNP Programs
- Scheduling freedom. No more rearranging your schedule around your studies. The online learning model allows you to attend live classes and complete assignments where and when it’s convenient for you; all you need is a web-connected computer, laptop, or tablet. This kind of flexibility is perfect if you’re already working full time or caring for family. What’s more, it saves you valuable time by eliminating the commute to and from class.
- Immersive content. Do you learn better at your own pace? If so, online FNP programs would suit you well. These types of programs cater to a variety of learning styles and combine readings and research with multimedia case studies and presentations. Class assignments can typically be accessed through a secure online portal around the clock from any connected device. That means you can study from the comfort of home or even when you’re on the road.
- Live classes. Modern collaboration tools allow students and professors to gather in a “virtual” classroom, in real time. Many online graduate nursing programs limit class sizes to encourage everyone to take part—a far cry from overcrowded lecture halls. After class, you can connect with instructors and classmates through video chat and email. Some institutions also maintain active community discussion boards where you can receive and give support any time of day.
- Hands-on experience. You’re probably wondering how students in online FNP programs gain the real-world experience necessary to prepare them for effective practice. Most advanced nursing degree programs include clinical placements as part of their curriculum. Your advisor will work with you to find a placement setting in or within driving distance of your city or town. There, you’ll provide advanced-level care to real patients under the mentorship of a licensed nursing professional.
- Top-notch professors and mentors. Online graduate nursing programs from accredited, nonprofit schools have accomplished faculty members with firsthand experience in the nursing field. Just like faculty in on-the-ground programs, these instructors are committed to helping their students succeed. Most offer regular office hours (via video chat or phone) and make themselves readily available to answer students’ questions.
- Networking with peers. Being an online graduate student can broaden your horizons in ways that no on-campus program could. You’ll meet students from across the world—nursing professionals like you who are looking to take that next step. Many institutions also host on-campus intensives where you can meet fellow students and receive one-on-one mentoring from program faculty.
- Support at every turn. From on-demand technical troubleshooting to writing and research assistance, high-quality online FNP programs provide a full spectrum of student support services. This support may be accessed via live web chat, the student portal, email, or phone. Some schools even offer career and professional development services to help you fully realize your goals.
Although online education is certainly not a new concept, technology innovations have made online FNP programs more attractive and accessible than ever before. If your goal is to be a nurse practitioner—the fastest-growing segment of primary caregivers in the United States—online FNP programs are well worth exploring.
Nursing@USC, the new online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) from the University of Southern California School of Social Work, is the first graduate program in the country to integrate nursing and social work practice into its curriculum. The program was developed to arm the next generation of nurses with a more holistic understanding of the biological, behavioral and social determinants that impact health outcomes. Online programs are an innovative and flexible option for aspiring family nurse practitioners, and aspiring nurses interested in the social side of health care can apply now to a program that emphasizes care of the whole patient.
Sophia Bernazzani is a health care writer. She studied global public health at the George Washington University and is interested in nutrition and sustainability. Please follow her on Twitter @sophbernazzani.