Can I Earn an ADN Online?
Discover the differences between online and on-campus learning.
Is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing Online Program Right for You?
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a one-to two-year program offering curriculum in both nursing and liberal arts, and gives degree-holders the opportunity to work in entry-level nursing positions. In some states, you can become a registered nurse (RN) with an ADN, but increasingly, hospitals are looking for a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing to earn those credentials. Much, but not all, of the ADN coursework can be taken online.
Online nursing programs have become more popular in recent years, and for good reason: Getting an education online offers great flexibility and often allows students to dictate their own schedules. Because of this, online learning is an ideal choice for a variety of students. So who are online nursing programs tailored for?
Busy parents: Trying to coordinate on-campus class times with the busy life of a parent can be next to impossible. Online courses, which can be completed while your child is at school or asleep for the night, offer a more flexible alternative.
Students in remote areas: If you live outside of the city or have to relocate frequently, finding a convenient on-campus program might not be possible. Online programs solve that problem. An added perk? Many online programs don’t require you to pay out-of-state tuition.
Employed individuals looking for a new career: There are plenty of professionals who reach a point in their careers where they realize they’re better suited for another field of work. If you’re someone with a job who is interested in switching to a nursing career, online programs allow you to continue working to cover tuition costs while attending school on your free time.
Even if you don’t necessarily fit into one of the above categories, online learning might still be an ideal choice for you. Having the flexibility of completing courses online means things like sick days, car troubles or bad weather will never keep you from attending class. Additionally, online programs are often less expensive than on-campus programs.
Are Online Programs Available for This Degree or Certification?
If you’re seeking either an associate’s degree in nursing, there are plenty of web-based programs available. However, programs that are entirely online don’t exist for entry-level nursing degrees or certificates; instead, hybrid programs are offered.
A hybrid program blends online education with practical learning. Because nursing is a hands-on profession, it’s not possible to enter the field without first completing a series of clinical sessions. Therefore, completing your degree or certification online still requires real-life practice and observation in local hospitals and clinics and nursing lab work.
Often your online program will put you in touch with the necessary resources to complete your required labs and practice clinics within your community. Another benefit to hybrid learning is that many programs allow you to dictate your own lab or practice time, rather than being assigned to a time schedule.
What Can I Expect from a Hybrid ADN Program?
For busy students looking to earn their ADN, a hybrid program can be the answer. While you won’t get the level of flexibility of an entirely online program, you’ll still be able to avoid commuting to campus for every class. And, depending on the program’s format, you may be able to view lectures any time, day or night.
However, not all schools are the same. Some hybrid programs—which are also referred to as blended programs—require students to attend class discussions or video lectures at a specific time using virtual collaboration software such as Canvas. In this set up, you’ll log in and have real-time discussions with your classmates and professor. It’s true you’ll have to plan your schedule accordingly but this format still allows you to engage with fellow students and ask questions—all from the convenience of your home.
Courses like human physiology, anatomy and microbiology often have an online and on-campus component. You’ll complete certain coursework virtually but still be required to attend labs related to these areas of study.
Typically, students attend labs once or twice a week.
Is a Hybrid Program Right For You?
Even though you’ll be heading to campus for a portion of your studies, you should consider whether the online component is a good fit for your learning style.
While the ability to access assignments from anywhere is enticing, online learning can create challenges for some students. Those who succeed using this format are often self-motivated and don’t have difficulty staying on top of their work. You’ll still have in-person interaction with classmates and professors during labs, but that time will be limited.
Many schools offer a self-assessment where you can determine if a hybrid, or blended, program is right for you. It will measure your ability to work independently and the strength of your organizational skills, among other things.
As more schools begin to offer online ADN classes, you’ll need to weigh your options and decide which program suits your career goals best.
How Do Online Programs Differ from Campus Programs? Will the Quality of Education be the Same?
Online programs sometimes have a reputation for not offering the same quality of education as on-campus classes, but these claims are often unfounded. If you’re planning to enroll in a hybrid ADN program, consider how today’s online programs stack up to traditional campus settings.
Quality: Today, online nursing programs are considered just as good as on-campus programs. With more online schools and programs–and therefore, more students–this form of education continues to improve in quality. Now, hospitals and clinics widely value an online ADN as much as one earned in a campus setting, and the salary you earn can be comparable.
Time to completion: On average, an ADN can be completed in about two years. That’s generally true for online as well as on campus programs, but with some online programs it is possible to finish more quickly. Some online programs will allow you to move at your own speed, meaning that if you work hard you don’t have to wait for the end of a quarter or semester to begin your next course.
Experience: Hybrid nursing programs generally don’t allow for the same amount of peer-to-peer interaction as you might find in an on campus program, since much of your studies are completed independently. However, your hands-on learning experience will be vital to connecting you with other students and provide you with a genuine work setting.
Overall, web-based or hybrid ADN programs provide a quality solution for students with tight schedules.