Please enjoy this guest post by Kris Shallenberger of Marian University.
Being the Director of Community and Corporate Relations for the Marian University for St. Vincent online Accelerated BSN program in Indianapolis, this a question I’m asked all the time. “Your nursing program is online?” For some people, hearing the word “online” in the title of our accelerated online BSN program is attractive. For others, it sounds a little troublesome. They want to know how an online nursing program can prepare a student for interactions with patients.
Both are legitimate perspectives. Hopefully the following offers some clarity.
Online Education Explained
Taking an online nursing program means your coursework is online. Instead of walking into a brick and mortar building to sit in a classroom with your professor, you’ll watch pre-recorded lectures and complete quizzes and/or homework through an online portal provided by your academic institution. (However, it’s not uncommon to have to go to a testing center for bigger exams.)
These virtual classrooms are supported by various types of online software (aka learning management systems) such as Canvas, Blackboard or Moodle. Sometimes an academic institution will have their own customized software. Instead of raising your hand with questions, you can directly contact your professor or peers or join a forum discussion on the topic through the learning management system, all from the comfort of your home or local coffee shop.
It’s not surprising to see online education catching on; the flexibility it provides is a very attractive feature. The online component allows you to study anytime, anywhere. If you need to get your kids ready for school or have plans with friends/family, you can take a break and pause the lecture. If the last part of the lecture was over your head, you rewind. If you need to ask a question, you ask. And if you need to sleep, you turn it off until morning.
But Online Nursing Education?
There are nursing programs out there that are 100% online, but most nursing programs that are ‘online’ are usually comprised of both online and on-ground components. This could be in the form of required internships, clinicals or simulation labs. And typically, the more attractive programs for employers have a relatively even blend of these elements.
Which brings me to the next point I want to make about online nursing programs: accreditation. Employers pay attention to not only your nursing credentials, but what academic institutions you achieved them through. This makes it oh so important to choose an online nursing program and institution that is fully accredited by an industry-respected organization, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). A lot of people don’t realize that accreditation is a voluntary process, so knowing that your program volunteered to go through a rigorous process to prove their curriculum is top of line says a lot about the education you would receive.
Online Doesn’t Mean Alone
This is another concern I hear often; that sitting in an empty room in front of a computer means you’re on your own. At the Marian ABSN program in Indianapolis, we work hard to make sure our students are never alone. Someone is always an email or phone call away. I get a lot of joy when I hear things like “Wow, you called me back so quickly!” or “My advisor was awesome and really seemed to want to get to know me personally!” These statements are further solidified when they witness firsthand the camaraderie.
Being one of those online nursing programs that have an on-ground component, I offer students the chance to tour our facilities in Indianapolis if they’re interested in the program. Most people are surprised when they visit our sites and see the interaction among students. They see teams working together in our simulation labs with our faculty or gathering in small groups to study before a proctored exam.
Each online nursing program is slightly different, so if you find yourself gravitating towards an online education, I advise you to research the program thoroughly.
Kris Shallenberger serves as director of community and corporate relations for the Marian University for St. Vincent Health ABSN program. She is fueled by faith and two fun children to recruit students for the nursing program. Following a career in business development and recruitment with Fortune 500 companies, it was the compassion of hospice nurses that inspired her to enter healthcare. Today, she fosters relationships with pre-health advisors, career services, consortiums, faculty, students, alumni, hospital associations and community organizations as part of a community outreach program.
For additional questions about online nursing programs, Kris can be reached by email or by calling 866.892.6463.