Individuals interested in becoming registered nurses (RNs) may complete bachelor's degree programs; however, that is not the only route to becoming an RN. Many students instead opt to earn an associate's degree in nursing, which can be achieved through online programs in the field. These programs are commonly known as hybrid programs, meaning they combine online coursework with in-person experiences, such as hands-on labs and clinical externships.
Associate's Degree in Nursing
Online associate's degree programs in nursing typically take about two years of full-time study to complete. While students can view lectures and complete much of their work online, nursing programs also require individuals to perform hands-on labs and complete clinical externships. To meet these requirements, students must spend time on a college campus or a healthcare facility associated with the degree-granting institution. Apart from these exceptions, students receive all instruction online.
Coursework can vary between institutions. Typically, students must take a number of core nursing classes as well as technical electives. The latter courses are designed to give students knowledge in specialized areas of nursing such as trauma, gerontology, neonatal nursing and healthcare technology. In addition, online nursing students are usually required to take general courses in communications, mathematics, English and the sciences. Specific classes may include:
- Human Anatomy
- Nursing Health Assessment
- Pharmacology I
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Microbiology
- Nursing Management Concepts
- Pharmacology II
- Business Communications
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of RNs was expected to increase roughly 16% from 2014-2024. This job growth was expected to be the result of a number of things, including an increasing population of aging individuals, an increasing incidence of chronic conditions and a growing focus on preventative measures.
Aspiring RNs who want to complete coursework via distance education will find that associate's degree programs are widely available online. However, students can expect to participate in hands-on clinical experiences in order to earn their degree.