An associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year college degree program that prepares graduates to earn a registered nursing license. An RN license is granted to ADN graduates who pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), and is required to practice as a nurse today.
Registered nurses educate and provide care to patients with a wide range of health conditions. They administer treatments, assess ailments, collaborate with other healthcare professionals, perform diagnostic tests, record medical histories, teach patients how to manage illnesses and injuries, and more. Due to their wide breadth of responsibilities, registered nurses must complete comprehensive training prior to launching their careers.
Many prospective RNs desire to help those in need, but require a nursing degree that is flexible. An associate degree in Nursing is the standard prerequisite for RNs, but are there flexible programs available? Can one earn an associate degree in Nursing in online, or does this degree path require in-person, on-campus training?
Why In-Person Clinicals are Crucial
Entry-level nursing programs, like the associate degree in Nursing, require in-person training so that nurses can experience hands-on practice in patient care. This training is offered in clinical settings like mock laboratories, as well as rotations at local hospitals or clinics. Nursing is a highly tactical field, where dexterity and experience can make all the difference.
Currently, online learning systems cannot replicate laboratory segments of classes and clinicals. Consequently, higher education institutions often have medical setting simulators for students completing their laboratory requirements that mimic hospital-like environments with mannequins that simulate patient conditions. At Goodwin, for example, clinical experiences are offered in healthcare facilities throughout Connecticut. While you must attend in-person, these experiences are offered on days, evenings, and weekends for added flexibility.
To complete in-person clinical requirements, students can typically choose a clinical site in one of two ways:
- Learners can either find a clinical site by utilizing professional agreements between their school and local healthcare providers, or
- Nursing students can find their own clinical environment and work with a school liaison to ensure the healthcare facility is approved.
State nursing boards also necessitate a set number of in-person clinical hours to become a registered nurse. Clinical skill requirements are essential to studying the functional roles of the healthcare profession, because future nurses practice working with medical equipment, inserting IVs, and caring for real patients.
For these reasons, associate degree in Nursing programs cannot be solely online. Depending on the institution and program, students may have the option to enroll in a flexible hybrid or blended format, which involves a combination of online courses and on-site learning.
Hybrid Program Highlights
Commonly, associate degree in Nursing courses encompass many general education requirements, combined with clinical training. Some of these general education courses, like English and Science, can be completed online. The combination of online courses with on-campus training is recognized as a hybrid learning format. Even during transportation troubles or terrible weather, hybrid formats enable learners to go to school on their schedule.
Students who may finish non-clinical work virtually, and who excel most in online courses, include self-motivated learners, busy parents, those working full-time, or professionals looking to change careers.
The Countdown to Commencement
While some hybrid nursing degree programs are self-paced, other programs require participation during lectures or discussions on specific days and times.
The associate degree in Nursing completion also depends on whether a student is enrolled part-time or full-time, whether it is an accelerated program, and the number of credits received for transfer status, or any previous military or work experience. At Goodwin University, ADN students can complete their nursing degree in just 20 months part-time.
Registered Nursing Know-How
The U.S. Department of Labor states that RNs as exceptionally skilled in the following areas:
- Active listening — Registered nurses listen and observe verbal and non-verbal messages and provide attentive, appropriate feedback
- Administration — Organized nurses manage files and records and are well-versed in workplace terminology
- Critical thinking — RNs analyze and evaluate information and use communication, experience, and reasoning to form a judgment
- Medicine — Graduates of ADN programs know how to diagnose and treat human injuries and diseases, including alternative treatment options, drug interactions, and preventative healthcare measures
- Patient services — Registered nurses genuinely want to help others while meeting quality standards of service, and they effectively evaluate a patient’s satisfaction with care
- Psychology — Registered nurses are acquainted with human behavior, social perceptiveness, individual abilities and personalities, learning and motivation, psychological research, and assessing and treating behavior disorders
Advantages of an Associate Degree in Nursing
An associate degree in Nursing, as noted above, is the standard requirement to become a registered nurse today. This degree qualifies graduates to take the NCLEX-RN examination, earn their RN license, and launch their career. Licensed RNs may work in various settings, including home healthcare services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, physicians’ offices, outpatient clinics, schools, and more.
Graduates completing their associate degree in Nursing can also continue their education and earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an RN-to-BSN program. A BSN degree can expand one’s career options, salary potential, and even patient care outcomes. Conveniently, it can also be earned online! The RN-to-BSN degree is an online nursing degree designed for already busy, working RNs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses are in demand! Between an aging baby boomer population in need of healthcare services and experienced nurses retiring, the registered nursing profession is projected to increase nine percent from 2020 to 2030 — adding 194,500 job openings each year, on average, over the decade.
Lastly, although registered nurses who have earned their ADN are continually rewarded with a sense of pride, service, and purpose in their field, their income also embodies the many advantages of earning an ADN. In 2021, the average pay for a registered nurse was $77,600 per year.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly influenced education and healthcare institutions, all ADN programs are still currently in a hybrid format — even if programs claim to be 100% online. However, with the advancement of educational technology such as simulators and virtual reality, the future for an associate degree in Nursing online remains hopeful.
Are you interested in a fulfilling future as a registered nurse? Click here to learn more about the flexible associate degree in Nursing at Goodwin University.