Nursing is a multifaceted profession, with many opportunities for individuals to learn, grow and expand their horizons. One way of achieving this is through continued professional development via an accredited postgraduate course, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). However, the dilemma for professionals who are already committed to their career is how to find a way to study and balance their other life commitments.
In recent years, online programs have gained popularity thanks to their flexibility, allowing professionals such as nurses to continue their careers or take a shorter break than would previously have been possible.
This article examines the benefits of online coursework for DNP students with other life commitments, discovering the many advantages of this modality of studying. Those inspired by the idea can also find out how embarking on a DNP to broaden their professional remit and enhance career prospects could become a reality.
Online courses for nurses: How they work
Nursing is a hands-on profession, so many may wonder how online courses for nurses can really work to future-proof their career. With online courses, learning is delivered online, whether through self-study modules, seminars, lectures (which may be live or pre-recorded), or other channels. This means that students can study from a place and at a time that’s convenient to them, fitting their studies around their already busy schedule.
In addition to online learning, students take part in clinical residencies and placements, giving them the chance to network with fellow students and practice valuable clinical skills in healthcare settings. This format means students get the best of both worlds – combining the flexibility of online learning with a practical experience that allows them to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-life scenarios.
The benefits of online coursework for DNP students
Here is a closer look at some of the many benefits of online coursework for DNP students.
All learners are different and have a unique style of taking in and processing information. So, it makes sense for nursing students to choose online learning to allow them to set their own pace. For example, a student may learn best by working methodically through information, writing notes, and taking time to absorb data. Or they may learn in a completely different way, skimming over the main points of a topic before returning to it later. Either way, it doesn’t matter for students who have opted for an online course. This method of delivery is perhaps the most inclusive since it allows students to set their own pace and organize their schedule accordingly.
For students who feel they need to understand more about a topic before progressing to the next one, online learning allows them to do exactly that. They won’t have to worry about holding up the rest of the class while they do a deep dive into their chosen area either.
Setting their own pace means that even if they haven’t studied for a while and feel daunted about returning to education, they can be assured that an online course will work whatever their learning style.
Flexibility in learning
Any nurse considering enhancing their career opportunities by going back to study will wonder how they are going to fit in learning alongside their existing commitments. Nursing is an all-encompassing vocation and a career that many nurses put their heart and soul into. Alongside this regular role, nurses may also have networking events, research projects, and other commitments to consider. That’s not to mention their responsibilities at home and in the community too.
So, a flexible learning method is essential for those who wish to further their career. This is what makes online programs of study so attractive to healthcare professionals such as nurses. It offers the flexibility to fit learning around other commitments, so nurses don’t have to give up work or other activities to reach their goals.
Learning is entirely flexible when it is delivered online. Nursing students could fit in short study sessions before or after a shift or on a lunch break, during periods of study leave, or at the weekends. In short, online learning fits around nurses’ schedule, rather than the other way round, allowing them to continue with their existing duties and responsibilities while investing in their future at the same time.
Access to a supportive community
Support is an essential element of successful study. Those thinking about studying online may be wondering whether it is possible to receive the level of support students need to keep them focused and motivated. The answer is yes, of course! For a start, students will have a community of fellow students around them – a ready-made support system for students to discuss their learning, sharing tips and encouragement.
Studying alongside fellow students is likely to enhance the overall learning experience by offering opportunities for in-depth discussions without the need for a facilitator. This was one of several advantages cited in a paper looking at the benefits of online adult education published in Westcliff International Journal of Applied Research (WIJAR).
Furthermore, students will also get the chance to meet up with peers when they experience residencies or clinical placements. On placement, a student will also have the support of a preceptor and other clinical staff, who are there to help guide and assist students in their learning. Additionally, students will find support in the form of admissions, administrative, and faculty staff who will gladly help them navigate returning to education.
Going back to school can be a costly business, but it doesn’t have to be for students who opt for an online course.
Running online programs is less expensive for education providers, therefore the costs passed on to students are also reduced. This opens up further education to many more candidates who would otherwise have to make tough decisions between maintaining their current lifestyle and furthering their career.
Learning online means students won’t have to travel to campus and frequently course materials are more affordable too, since they are likely to be in digital format. What’s more, nursing students may be eligible for financial aid. They can schedule appointments with an admissions counselor at the institution of their choice to find out whether this is a possibility.
Finally, students may also find that certain online programs are offered in an accelerated format. This means they can qualify sooner and therefore increase their earning potential in a reduced period compared to on-campus programs.
Enhanced technology skills
Online programs maximize technology, making the best use of a variety of tech such as videoconferencing apps, course management systems, audio files and multimedia channels used to disseminate information. By studying online, students will experience all this tech and more on a regular basis, which will, without doubt, enhance their skills.
Currently, advanced digital and technology skills are essential in the healthcare profession. Not only are they used to access patient information and diagnostic tests but also to understand health data such as statistics, which nurses will come across in future roles as senior nurses. Upskilling in this way is a very welcome by-product of online learning. It prepares students for many exciting roles throughout their career as highly educated senior nurses.
Customized learning environments
Studying online gives nursing students the chance to customize their own learning environment in a way that’s just not possible on campus. Students who need absolute silence and zero interruptions to study can create their own study area to reflect their learning style at home. The same goes for people who need some background buzz to get into the learning zone. They can make their local coffee shop or co-working space a study area and enjoy the camaraderie of learning alongside other people.
Alternatively, nursing students can switch their environment up according to what resources they have available and how they feel on a day-by-day basis. So, nursing students can take advantage of a break in their shift and head down to the staff restroom to catch up on a lecture. Or they could shut themselves away in a home office on their day off to plow through that chapter, ahead of their next seminar. Their learning environment is as flexible as their imagination.
Elimination of geographic constraints
Online learning opens up a world of opportunities for anyone returning to studying.
One factor that may have held nurses back up to now is their geographical location. Maybe their local university or other educational establishment doesn’t provide the course they are looking for. Or perhaps the one that does is just too far to travel to when they have a host of other daily commitments to take care of.
For nurses aiming to study for a postgraduate degree like a DNP, online learning is often the answer to their concerns about embarking on a program. Many providers accept candidates who are out-of-state, as long as the state they reside in and are licensed to practice in is on their authorized list. This eliminates many geographical constraints for students once they have found the university or institution of their choice. It frees them up to embark on a course of study that will open up many more avenues in their nursing career.
More about DNP programs
By searching DNP nursing programs online, students will be sure to find a program that offers them all the benefits covered above. One such course that offers the flexibility of distance learning is the online DNP program offered by Wilkes University. It is the ideal choice for nurses looking for a course that flexes their learning style and timetable. Nursing students can follow it without having to compromise on their existing work and home commitments. The Wilkes University DNP program prepares students for senior nursing roles with a focus on leadership, whether in a clinical setting or elsewhere. As it is a terminal degree, there is no higher level of education so nurses can expect to step into the most responsible and highly paid roles in nursing from here.
Typical roles DNP graduates fall into are within nurse management, nurse education, health policy, or as nurse practitioners specializing in areas like women’s health or psychiatry. There are many possible routes that this degree can take students on.
With 100% of coursework delivered online, it is the most flexible way to meet nursing career goals. Students will be supported throughout by administrative and faculty staff who will be rooting for them all the way.
Nursing students will also experience clinical placements and residencies on this program, which will offer them the chance to meet other students and staff while practicing skills in genuine healthcare settings. It is a personalized, flexible way to discover the best roles in nursing and it can be completed over six terms or two years.
The next level in a nursing career
For established nurse professionals, the decision around whether to go back to school can be a challenging one. But when they choose an online program like the DNP course offered by Wilkes University, many of their concerns should melt away. With flexible learning and a comprehensive curriculum, students can be energized and inspired knowing that this way of study truly suits their needs. This education adjusts to their lifestyle and allows them to pursue their professional dreams. To learn more about what Wilkes University has to offer professionals looking to take their career to the next level, nursing students can reach out to an admissions counselor today.