One of the biggest benefits of Big Data centers is being able to collect enough statistics to predict movement. Typically, this is a marketing strategy, but data analysis also helps forecast trends in everything from education to fashion, and of course everything in between. One of the things which data analysis is indicating is a surge in online degree programs, and of those, nursing ranks at or near the top. If studying online is trending, and nursing is at the top of the list, there must be some very good reasons why. Let’s explore some of those now.
1. Pursuit of a Promising Future
Nursing is undoubtedly a career with a promising future. There will always be a need for nurses because there will always be diseases and illnesses in an imperfect world. One of the things people look for when choosing a career path is stability and/or growth potential. Any career in nursing, at any level and with any specialization, will always hold a promising future. Even if there weren’t a crisis level shortage of nurses on a global level, nursing will always be a career in high demand, and thus with an extremely promising future.
2. Availability of Online Degree Programs
Speaking of that crisis level shortage of healthcare workers, among which doctors and nurses are in greatest demand, accessibility to online degree programs is paramount. Although it is possible to study literally any degree program in any field online, trends in nursing education in 2022 are leaning heavily toward distance learning. In other words, an online degree program makes it more accessible to a greater number of students.
3. Online Degrees Are Now Widely Accepted
Even just a few short years ago there was a certain amount of apprehension among employers when interviewing job candidates with an online degree. Without going into all the main reasons why many employers had an inherent mistrust of distance learning, perhaps the main reason was simply that – the trust factor. However, as technology advances and with such things as videoconferencing and monitored exams, trust levels have risen exponentially. Also, many of today’s administrators were raised in an era of computer technology, so they aren’t likely to distrust a technology they are comfortable with.
4. Convenience in Scheduling
Another of the reasons why trends in nursing education lean toward online degree programs is the convenience in scheduling classes. Unlike on-campus classes, there are few times when attendance is required on a given day at a scheduled time. Nursing students may not even need to carry a full course load every semester if their lives are inordinately busy.
Sometimes mothers looking to re-enter the workforce with a degree in nursing seek a program they can study online because they can work around the daily activities within family life. It can be difficult enough to get the kids to school on time in the mornings. Can you imagine just how trying it might be if mom had an 8AM class as well? That leads us to another issue with scheduling. There might be that one class that is a requirement for graduation, and it is the one class that doesn’t fit a student’s schedule. Online classes solve that problem quite easily.
5. No Need to Give Up Full-Time Job
Even with scholarships, grants and student loans, most students today need to continue working just to survive. The cost of living is rising faster than previously forecast and in most states the cost of gasoline is significantly higher than it was just a year ago. Tension in Russia and a concern over losing a major supplier due to sanctions, is causing a high level of panic in the industry and among consumers. As a result, gas prices are soaring and that makes it even harder for a student to give up their source of income, even if only partially.
But fuel for transportation back and forth to school isn’t the only concern. The cost of crude per barrel has risen which also means that the cost per gallon of gasoline, being supply and demand driven, will also rise in price. This will impact the cost of other types of fuel as well. It seems that when the price in one fuel increases, others follow suit. There are still a number of power plants that rely heavily on coal, and that will be going up as well.
This is really one of the most important reasons why online nursing programs are trending in 2022. When speaking of the cost of living and the need to continue working, it should also be mentioned that prices of most consumer goods will rise as well. The higher costs of fuel results in a loss of profit on consumer goods if prices aren’t adjusted accordingly. With supply chain disruptions and prices spiking through the roof, is there any wonder why students need to continue working full time?
6. A Career with Strong Earning Potential
Directly related to all of the above, nursing is a career with a stronger than average earning potential. With so much stress resulting from an uncertain economy, most students want to know that they are studying for a degree that will help them meet the challenges ahead. To get an idea of just how strong nursing earning potential really is, take a look at a few national statistics.
As of 2022, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics published earning data on most, if not all, professions. Some of the key figures that substantiate this stronger earning potential in nursing are:
- Federal minimum wage remains at $7.25 for non-tipped employees
- Federal minimum wage remains at $2.13 for tipped employees
- Even at $15/hour, a single person is just over the poverty level
- The average RN median hourly wage is $36.22
Now then, let’s get a rough estimate at what that means in terms of earning potential. The average median wage of an RN is five times that of federal minimum wage. If that isn’t stronger than average earning potential, nothing is! Also, it should be considered that with specializations and advanced level degrees, RNs can double or triple that salary!
7. Stepping Up to the Plate – Filling a Void
To borrow an expression from baseball, studying nursing online or on-campus is like stepping up to the plate as a designated or pinch hitter. While the rule for designated hitters originated way back in 1973 and was put into the rule book by the American League, it became universally accepted in 2022 and is now listed as Major League Baseball rule number 5.11. This may sound a little off base, to coin another baseball expression, but it is a perfect analogy of why online nursing degree programs are trending in the United States and elsewhere around the world.
Some prospective students approach nursing from an altruistic perspective, recognizing the real need for nurses in a world with a crisis level shortage. They are like those designated hitters who are willing to change the career path of their lives in order to metaphorically step up to the plate. There is no greater altruistic reason for pursuing a career than when it is for the common good, to fill a void for the betterment of society. Online nursing degree programs offer a perfect opportunity for a prospective student to begin studying while maintaining the status quo in their own financial wellbeing. In other words, they can work while studying to give something back to the world.
8. Multiple Career Paths in Nursing to Be Discovered Online
This is an amazing reason to begin studying for a career in nursing. Since a student will be sitting in front of a computer when beginning their degree program, it will give them ample opportunity to begin researching some of the many career paths a nurse can take. It isn’t only about specializing in an area of nursing but the actual path to a desired level within the profession.
For example, a nurse can work in a patient-facing clinical area of nursing but can also follow an administrative path if so desired. Perhaps the path a nursing student is interested in leads them to an advanced degree on a master’s or doctoral level so that they can work in education. Advanced degrees are also imperative for nursing careers in administration, but they can also be necessary when taking that career to the level of an NP or DNP.
9. Studying Online Is Less Expensive and More Available
Many schools have reduced tuition and enrollment fees for online degree programs. There are a number of reasons for that, but overhead is a huge one. One professor can ‘teach’ many more students than in an on-campus class that usually sets a limit to the number of students who can enroll. When that class is full, a student typically must wait for the next semester before they can register to take it. This can put them back a year in some cases if they continue trying to register for classes that are already full.
This type of availability differs from reason #2 in that the above reason relates to the availability of the program itself. As time goes on, more and more degree programs are being offered online. Here, we are speaking of greater admissions availability in that students report to a computer, not an overloaded professor who simply can’t handle the student load. They are two very different availability issues, but both equally as important when seeking to discover why online nursing degrees are trending in 2022.
10. And Then There’s Covid
This is such an all-encompassing issue and reason for why there are so many trends in nursing online degree programs in 2022. Even though SARS-CoV-2, Covid-19, cases are leveling off and numbers are dropping, the Omicron variant and its sub-variant, Omicron-2, are still major concerns. Most people know that campuses around the country, indeed the world, were shut down as a restriction during much of the past two years. Students already enrolled had to shift to online attendance and those who wanted to register for the next semester often had to either register for online classes or wait until the danger of shutdowns had past.
Some prospective students are still leery of attending on-campus classes due to the very real potential of contracting this potentially deadly virus. Nursing students can be especially aware of the dangers and without the assurance of following proper protocol for the mitigation of the spread of Covid, they prefer to study from home. On the flip side, Covid also raised an awareness of just how effective online degree programs truly are. Distance learning offers the capability of enrolling greater numbers of students than would be possible in on-campus registration and there is little likelihood of a disruption in attendance because students are already studying remotely. That is perhaps one of the only benefits covid brought to upper-level education.
So Many Pros and Very Few Cons
Each of these 10 reasons why online nursing degree programs are trending in 2022 can be seen as a pro, as a benefit. If anything leads to the pursuit of a college degree, it is most definitely beneficial. It is only when something detracts from having the ability to study for a degree that it becomes a con, a disadvantage. There are few disadvantages, if any, to studying for a nursing degree online. Course availability is higher than on campus classes, students can set their own schedule, and they can literally learn at their own pace.
It is cost effective to register for distance learning and students are able to continue working because they take as many or few classes as they can handle. As one final point to be considered, there is another reason why studying online is trending in 2022 and that would be mobile access! So many students stay connected to the internet, no matter where they are, and if a nursing student wants to study while drinking a cup of coffee at Starbucks with free wi-fi, what could be wrong with that?