Making a career change later in life is no longer an unusual choice. Employers are far more accepting of the possibility, and colleges are opening more programs that are specifically aimed at those students. This is true no matter what industry you work in and regardless of your age.
A large part of this is thanks to the increasing availability and higher quality of online learning. Numerous educational institutions now offer distance learning courses, and businesses no longer look down on them as somehow being less valid. This is fantastic news for those who are hoping to shift careers but have family obligations that make attending classes on campus tricky.
It’s not only purely academic programs like English and philosophy either. These days you can also study more practical and vocational subjects online – including nursing. So if you are a registered nurse who is considering going back to college for a second MSN degree, online study might be the perfect option. Read on to find out more.
About post-MSN nursing programs
Firstly, let’s talk about second MSN programs in more detail, as not everyone is familiar with them. A post-MSN course is specifically designed for active registered nurses (RNs) who already have a Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN) but hope to expand their skills further and increase their knowledge. This is often as a precursor to moving into a different career path within nursing, such as becoming a family nurse practitioner (FNP).
Most of these programs consist of a series of taught academic modules – such as advanced pharmacology and informatics for advanced nursing practice – as well as a clinical placement. This is where you put what you have learned into practice in a real-life healthcare setting under the close supervision of your preceptor. It’s a valuable opportunity for feedback and guidance, as well as a way to gain firsthand experience of possible career options after you complete the course.
Who is eligible to take an online post-MSN program?
As mentioned above, post-MSN programs are only available for those who already hold a Master of Science in Nursing from an accredited institution and have an active nursing license. There are usually additional entry requirements that vary by college and course, such as a minimum GPA or a certain amount of experience.
When applying for this kind of program, you will have to submit evidence of your previous qualifications and current status as an RN. You will normally also be asked for a couple of letters of recommendation – it’s a good idea to start looking for people who can provide these well in advance of the application deadline in case your first choices are unavailable.
Finally, most colleges will require you to submit a personal statement about why you want to take the program. This is your chance to truly shine, so make sure you spend a lot of time on it. Think about how you can demonstrate your passion for nursing and also for the specific specialization of the course you’re applying for. For example, why do you want to be an FNP? If you can point to any relevant volunteer work you’ve done or extra responsibilities you’ve taken on in your current role, this can help.
Before submitting your application, it’s important to proofread all sections thoroughly. You don’t want to make a bad first impression because you missed a typo! Sometimes it’s hard to proof your own work, so consider asking a friend, family member, or colleague to take a look too. Just be sure to do the same for them in return if they ask.
What can I expect when doing an online degree?
When taking an online degree, you’ll receive the same high standards of teaching and learning as you would on a traditional campus course – you’ll just be doing it virtually. So, what exactly does that mean?
Well, every college and program will have its own unique methods, but you can expect to use at least some of the following:
- Live lectures to attend with your cohort via video conferencing that is the same as a traditional lecture in that your professor does most of the talking
- Live seminars that you attend with a smaller group of students and are more interactive
- Prerecorded lectures to watch as a video whenever you want
- Online discussion boards and forums, where you can leave messages for other students and academic staff or chat live via text
- Audio materials such as podcasts
- Reading materials such as online journals and books
- Interactive quizzes using special software
- Written assignments such as essays or short questions
- Student presentations held over video conferencing
- Case studies and group projects
You can contact your professors and other staff members via phone, video call, instant messaging, and email. You’ll also have access to a range of college services in similar ways. Tutors will return feedback for your work digitally, for example, via email or using special virtual learning software.
Turning to nursing degrees, in particular, these are a little bit different from purely academic programs because you will still have a clinical placement to complete in person. This will be organized at a suitable location close to where you live and relevant to your specialism.
What are the advantages of taking my second MSN online?
There are plenty of benefits of taking second MSN courses, such as family nurse practitioner programs online. Firstly, it offers you a greater amount of flexibility in comparison to a course held on campus. Of course, you will still need to attend live lectures and seminars at the appointed time, but for everything else, you can choose to study at a time that suits you. So whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, you can craft a study schedule that matches your personality and life circumstances. You’ll also save plenty of time by not having to commute to campus!
Another nice aspect of online learning is that you have more choice over where you study. As you either won’t have to go to the campus at all or will only need to attend once or twice over the course, you can enroll at an institution anywhere in the country without having to move house.
Similarly, you can do your academic work in a location that you personally enjoy studying in. For instance, this might be the peaceful haven of your home office with your choice of inspiring soundtrack, the creative hustle and bustle of your favorite coffee shop, or the quiet surroundings of your local library.