Comparing Curriculum Between Online vs. In-Person Nursing Programs

As nursing increases in popularity, more and more aspiring healthcare professionals are exploring the nursing program options they have available to them. Whether one wants to become a nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, or a travel nurse, understanding different educational paths is important. 

Specifically, many students ready to dive into nursing school are now wondering whether they should enroll in an online or an in-person program. 

The truth is, there is no correct answer to this increasingly pertinent question. Rather, both have their own unique benefits, and deciding which one is the right choice is a subjective question that each nursing student must answer for themselves. 

However, having some guidance around the similarities and differences between these types of nursing programs can simplify the decision-making process for soon-to-be nurses across the country. 

Here is a comparison of online and in-person nursing programs. 

How Do Curriculums Differ?

While various programs may differ slightly, the vast majority of online nursing school programs cover the same topics as in-person programs. This means that students opting for remote educational options will experience the same curriculum as in-person students. 

However, those interested in pursuing an online nursing program should be aware that not all aspects of education will be conducted online. While online platforms are a great way for students to engage in coursework, it’s no substitute for hands-on training. 

For this reason, nursing students in online programs must also get in-person training that prepares them for their roles as nurses. This being the case, online programs don’t completely eliminate the need for students to live in the area where their program is offered. 

What Are the Benefits of Online Nursing Programs?

Before students decide on the type of program they enter, it can help to understand the benefits of different types of programs. When it comes to online programs, there are many pros that cause countless aspiring nurses to take this route. 

Some key benefits associated with online nursing programs include:

  • No commuting to school: For the coursework part of students’ courses, they can forego traveling expenses and the time wasted during these commutes. This can help students save money, feel less stressed, and experience more convenience. 
  • Increased flexibility: While not all online nursing programs are asynchronous, some are. In addition, there are many online programs tailored to individuals who are working full-time, that way students don’t have to sacrifice their current income for educational pursuits. 
  • More accessibility: Given the fact that online nursing programs can be engaged in virtually anywhere, they are much more accessible to many people than in-person educational options. 
  • More autonomy: While some students need structure to thrive, self-starters are better able to flourish with more autonomy. For these students, online nursing programs can offer more space to go at one’s own pace. 

For these reasons, online nursing programs are becoming more popular with nursing students than ever before. However, that’s not to say that they’re perfect for everyone. This being the case, it’s also important for aspiring nurses to explore in-person options before making their final decisions. 

What Are the Benefits of In-Person Nursing Programs?

Like online nursing programs, in-person nursing programs also come with their own unique benefits. While the more traditional nature of the in-person approach might not be perfect for everyone, for some students, it’s clearly the best option. 

Some key benefits associated with in-person nursing programs include:

  • Increased structure: In-person programs provide students with far more structure than online programs. For some students, having to be in a classroom in person makes it easier to feel motivated and engaged in educational materials. 
  • Easier to focus: Online programs can make it easy for students to get distracted and explore the web. In-person programs, however, have far fewer distractions present to vy for students’ attention. 
  • More opportunities to make connections with peers: One important part of the traditional higher education experience is making connections with other students. Unfortunately, the increasingly popular online options available to nursing students don’t offer a lot of opportunities for this. In-person programs, however, give students plenty of opportunities to connect. 
  • Increased time with professors: In any educational subject or discipline, having more time with professors can be incredibly valuable. This is because these types of opportunities allow students to ask questions and get more guidance in their educational pursuits. 

As a result of these important benefits, many students forego the increased convenience of online nursing programs to pursue in-person programs. However, this may soon change as a result of technological innovations in the space. 

The Impact of Virtual Reality on Nursing Education

As has been mentioned, there are currently no nursing programs that can be completed completely remotely. Instead, students must engage in some in-person training to prepare for their roles as nurses. 

However, virtual reality technology is presenting itself as a key solution to this obstacle that nursing students may soon be interacting with in a more serious way. 

Essentially, virtual reality may one day become accessible and advanced enough to allow students to remotely undergo nursing training that is traditionally done in person in a medical facility. This would allow students to feel as if they were in the same room as instructors demonstrating different techniques and explaining different instructions. 

Hopefully, this type of innovation will soon become a reality. When this becomes the case, nursing programs will become far more accessible to aspiring professionals all across the entire world. 

Different Programs are Meant for Different Types of Students

Both online nursing programs and in-person nursing programs have their own unique benefits that they can offer students. While some aspiring nurses may be better suited to the flexibility offered by online programs, others may fare better in the structured environments offered by in-person programs. 

Ultimately, each student must weigh the pros and cons of these different educational paths and assess their personal learning style before deciding. By putting in this preparatory effort, aspiring nurses have an opportunity to seek education in the path that’s best suited to them.

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