Reasons to Earn Your Graduate Nursing Degree Online
October 9, 2019
Do you aspire to become a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) — but wonder about the challenges of balancing on-campus studies with work and family? If you’d like to take the next step in your career, an online graduate nursing program may be an excellent option.
The healthcare is rapidly expanding and qualified healthcare professionals have never been in more demand than they are now. This means that students, job seekers, and healthcare professionals are in the perfect position to take advantage of the booming healthcare industry and secure a lifelong career with solid job prospects, and truly make a difference in patients’ lives.
If you’re on the fence and trying to decide whether or not it’s time to go to school for a graduate nursing degree, or go back to school to advance your career, we’ve taken the time to outline some of the best reasons to consider going back to school, and some of the key benefits of online graduate nursing degree programs to consider.
Reasons to Pursue a Graduate Nursing Degree
The healthcare industry has plenty of different career options to consider. Many of them even have overlapping responsibilities, but differ in some minor but important aspects. If you’re trying to evaluate why you should consider a career as a Nurse Practitioner or other graduate nursing career, we’ve outlined some of the key reasons to consider while you’re planning your future career.
1. Job Security
One of the biggest reasons to consider pursuing a graduate nursing degree is the job security that comes with working in the healthcare industry. The healthcare industry is one of the fastest-growing industries and is expected to become the number one industry in just a few short years. Every single day, thousands of healthcare jobs are being added across the country as the industry attempts to combat the aging baby boomer generation and the demand they’re placing on healthcare professionals. The baby boomer generation is retiring in record numbers, which means the generation will need care in record numbers.
This means that there will always be plenty of job opportunities for healthcare professionals or individuals who seek a career in the healthcare industry. While technology is shaping many industries and causing dynamic shifts in the job marketplace, the healthcare industry is one of the industries that still requires face to face interaction and direct care. There doesn’t seem to be any sign of change in the next several decades, as technology can only go so far when it comes to caring for patients.
For instance, even the few ways that robots and technology can drastically impact the industry, it still needs to be operated and used by educated and experienced healthcare professionals. In addition, due to the fact that the healthcare industry is constantly expanding, there is limited risk of cyclical trends that other industries face. This means that you don’t have to worry about things like cyclical hiring and firing seasons where you might have a job for a bit and then lose it shortly after when the business starts slowing down.
Because the industry is showing no signs of slowing down and only has rapid growth for the foreseeable future, starting a career and pursuing a graduate nursing degree is a low risk to incur. This means that job seekers and students who pursue a graduate nursing degree can rest assured knowing that their efforts will not be in vain and they will have plenty of opportunities as a result of their direct efforts to obtain an advanced degree.
2. Increase in Salary and Earning Potential
The next top reason that students and job seekers should consider going to school to pursue a graduate nursing degree is the increase in salary and earning potential. Working in the healthcare industry means that you will automatically be earning more than your peers in other industries on average. As healthcare professionals have the skills to directly interact with, care for, and improve a patient’s health and wellbeing, the skills will set them up for success in a growing industry that cannot find qualified talent fast enough.
This means that healthcare professionals will have tools and skills that they can leverage throughout their career to increase their bargaining power and gain enhanced benefits, comprehensive compensation packages, and increased wages throughout the duration of their career. While other careers often take decades of experience to receive the top of the line benefits packages and top-notch salary offerings, healthcare professionals can earn great wages and benefits from the onset of their career because their skills are in massive demand and the healthcare industry desperately needs qualified professionals that can help lead the next wave of care.
The healthcare industry is one of the few industries that is willing to pay handsome fees for professionals who are willing to boost their skill set, increase their education, and provide more value over time. The reason for this is that nearly every skill in the healthcare industry is highly technical. Soft skills are important, but the healthcare industry also has a ton of hard skills that are difficult to teach or find in the job search marketplace. This means that healthcare employers are willing to spend top dollar on those candidates and job seekers who have gone the extra mile to pursue a graduate degree and enhance their healthcare skill set and education.
Depending on the graduate nursing degree you seek and the specialization you work towards, the average salary can range anywhere from $65,000 to $120,000.
3. More Job Opportunities
Healthcare professionals have an abundant amount of healthcare jobs and career options they can consider when they graduate with a healthcare degree or have prior healthcare experience, but it doesn’t stop there for those individuals that pursue a graduate nursing degree. One of the great things about working in the healthcare industry is that there is never a shortage of careers for people who have the necessary skills, experience, or work ethic.
Students and job seekers who pursue and obtain a graduate nursing degree can work in their graduate nursing degree roles, in addition to a large multitude of healthcare positions where there is a massive talent shortage. This means that graduate nursing degree holders can work in any nearly any healthcare role that requires an Associate’s Degree, Bachelor’s Degree, or Advanced Degree. This means that there are dozens upon dozens of roles that graduate nursing degree holders can pursue.
Another benefit of pursuing a graduate nursing degree and working as a Nurse Practitioner is that Nurse Practitioners are increasingly filling vacant roles that were being reserved for other positions and careers. As an example with the nursing shortage, Nurse Practitioners and other advanced nursing degrees are being preferred to fill the roles because they’re capable of providing more value in the long run.
4. Increased Work Flexibility
Another fantastic reason for pursuing a graduate nursing degree is that it allows for more career and work flexibility. Compared to some careers where the professional is stuck doing one thing for the rest of their lives, advanced nursing degree holders can fluctuate between a multitude of roles throughout their career as we mentioned earlier.
In addition, advanced nursing degree holders will be given a larger number of responsibilities in their role, which means that they will have more trust placed in them to do their job and assist patients in any way they can. This trust ultimately leads to more convenience factors like better shift times, better clinical rotations, benefits like a flexible schedule, etc.
5. Ability to Impact More Patients
The next great reason to pursue a graduate nursing degree is the ability to impact more patients than ever before. As we’ve highlighted earlier, individuals who have a graduate nursing degree can pursue a multitude of roles that provide great career and job stability, but it also means that these healthcare professionals can also pursue roles that allow them to impact a wider array of patients.
Compared to some roles like a Registered Nurse where they might only see a handful of patients a week, some advanced nursing degree roles will have the capacity to impact dozens to hundreds of patients a week.
Benefits of Online FNP Programs
Although some skeptics still question their value, online FNP programs are quickly growing in popularity, and for good reason: Many offer the same rigorous career preparation, interaction, and student support as their on-campus equivalents. In fact, online programs from accredited, nonprofit institutions may even offer additional benefits not found in traditional programs. Below we explore some positive aspects of the online learning model.
1. Flexibility and Convenience
With an online program, you can earn an advanced nursing degree without disrupting your life. In fact, through modern web-based classroom technologies and flexible course scheduling, you can attend classes and complete coursework from home (or anywhere else in the world). This is ideal if you work full time or are a caregiver to young children or other family members.
2. Ability to Complete Program Faster
Another great benefit to pursuing an online FNP program is that you have the ability to complete the education program faster than a traditional education pathway. Because the classes are tailored and focused, there won’t be needless lectures or things that bump up the length of the curriculum for no particular reason. With the increased flexibility and convenience that allows students to pursue a degree on their own time and at their own pace (most of the time), these online FNP programs are a great way to get ahead in your education in lesss time.
3. Round-the-Clock Sharing and Collaboration
Learning online doesn’t have to be isolating. Technology now allows faculty and students to collaborate face-to-face in live, online classes. A smaller class size — no more than 12 students — facilitates lively discussions and brainstorming and allows everyone to participate. Outside of class, you have the opportunity to connect with professors and classmates through video chat, emails, and discussion boards. What’s more, many online FNP programs have thriving student communities that foster strong lifelong bonds.
4. Clinical Placements in Your Community
“Clinicals” are a vital part of any online FNP program, providing the hands-on learning you need to prepare for NP licensure and certification. These real-world experiences allow you to deliver advanced care to patients in an actual health care setting, under the guidance of a licensed nursing professional. Many schools will work with you to find a conveniently located placement site in or near your community.
5. Engaging, Dynamic Content
The innovative nature of online FNP programs means they can accommodate a broad range of learning styles. Coursework is typically self-paced, offering a blend of research, readings, videos, case studies, collaborative group projects, and other types of immersive content. This content can typically be accessed 24/7 through a secure, web-based platform.
6. Robust Student Support
As an online student, it’s essential to feel supported throughout your graduate nursing program. Many online FNP programs excel in this area, offering dedicated student services at every step of the learning journey. Whether you need assistance with completing the application, finding academic resources, or accessing the virtual classroom, help is always a click or call away.
7. Experienced Faculty
The best online FNP programs have faculty with practical experience in the nursing field and a commitment to student success. More than just instructors, these individuals serve as mentors and advisors to students all throughout their program and even after graduation.
8. Networking Opportunities
Virtual campuses give you the chance to connect with like-minded peers from across the world. During live classes, you’ll meet a diverse group of students who bring a range of experiences, ideas, and insights to every discussion. Some online FNP programs also offer on-campus intensives that allow you to receive one-on-one guidance from faculty, get feedback on your developing skills, and spend time with your fellow graduate nursing students.
Nurse practitioners are the fastest-growing segment of primary caregivers in the nation. And now, the availability of high-quality online FNP programs makes becoming an advanced practice nurse more attainable than ever before. Use the list above to guide you as you explore various programs to find the one that’s perfect for your needs.
( Article / Content Updated 2019 )