Understanding the Online Nursing Experience at Messiah
“How can I earn a nursing degree online?”
This question may be on the tip of your tongue or, in this case, your fingertips as nursing is such a physical and in-person profession. Nurses are charged with face-to-face care of patients which makes it difficult to consider how an online program works for such a field. The worry is entirely valid. Messiah understands that fear and worry and continuously works hard to overcome all the obstacles that could arise within an online nursing program to ensure the best possible experience for their students.
As one of Messiah’s recent graduates, Claire Jones’s sentiments echo the fears of many looking to earn advanced nursing degrees. “I was concerned about the online education piece as this was very different from my undergraduate degree. I contemplated participating in a face-to-face nurse practitioner program, so I could have more of an in-person experience, but ultimately decided Messiah was a better fit.”
What Jones learned is that Messiah strives to make their online programs flexible, ensures strong connections with faculty, and prepares students for their careers after their degree.
The post-BSN to DNP-Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program, which Jones was a part of, requires 2 on-campus intensives within its 4-year completion. The majority of the coursework, however, is online. Messiah’s other online nursing programs include RN to BSN, RN to MSN, MSN Nursing Administrator or Nurse Educator, dual MSN MBA, graduate certificates, and post-master’s DNP in Nursing Leadership. All of these programs have required coursework that can be completed fully online, with clinical experiences near you, and are designed with flexibility in mind.
Jones earned her BSN from Messiah in 2015, on campus, and quickly entered the workforce as an emergency room nurse. While working in emergency medicine as an RN, she got board-certified, became a preceptor, and learned multiple roles within the unit, which ultimately prepared her to pursue her post-BSN DNP/FNP degree. When looking for a BSN to DNP/FNP program, Jones wanted to be able to find her clinical placements close to home and within health networks that she trusted, which was exactly what she received when choosing Messiah.
“Once I got started, the online portion was actually a huge benefit. I continued to work full-time and complete my degree. I could complete my courses at my own pace,” Jones explains. “My professors were always available to check in and honestly gave me more individualized attention via the online method. I enjoyed the week-long intensives at Messiah during the summers, to connect with my classmates and learn hands-on skills. My clinical experiences were also all local [to me] which was a huge help and allowed me to have a better school/work/life balance.”
The flexibility that Jones found in her BSN to DNP/FNP program translates to all of Messiah’s graduate and adult degree nursing programs. The programs are designed for working professionals with fully online, asynchronous coursework taught by nursing educators that are understanding and compassionate.
Strong Faculty Connections
“I wanted a nursing faculty that would support me during my doctoral journey,” Jones says. “And I definitely got that from Messiah. The faculty were available to talk 24/7 and helped me be successful in the program even when I had personal challenges arise within my family.”
Messiah’s faculty work to not only teach their students how to succeed in the nursing field but to mentor the students, ensuring that they understand the material and are prepared for their roles in the larger healthcare community. Professors have virtual office hours available for students, but many are available even during their off-hours and are willing to help.
Jones reiterates that sentiment. “The professors are there for you — meet with them frequently and take full advantage of virtual office hours.”
Preparation for After Graduation
Messiah ensures that students are prepared to face whatever challenges may arise in the workforce. Through clinical work and, in the case of the two DNP/FNP week-long intensives, Messiah helps their students translate the information they learned in their online coursework into actual practice.
“The doctoral program provided me with comprehensive clinical experiences. With two semesters each of pediatrics and adult medicine, I feel confident as a new nurse practitioner. The program also gave me opportunities to do some specialty rotations during my diagnostic semester which I think helped my understanding of my specific clinical areas such as cardiology, pulmonology, etc,” Jones says.
While all programs offer different courses, Jones believes that her quality improvement project, financial courses, and leadership workshops highlight how extensive the education is that students receive at Messiah. All of Messiah’s online nursing curricula are designed to not only teach nurses how to care at the bedside of their patients but to also be well-rounded, ethical professionals.
“Messiah taught me how to care for the whole person; both physically and emotionally. The clinical faculty always demonstrated what a successful and compassionate nurse practitioner looked like in their specialty,” says Jones.
While considering an online nursing program may be intimidating, it is important to realize that Messiah has designed their online programs with a working professional in mind. They strive to create a learning atmosphere that is ideal for current nurses who want an ethical, flexible, and rigorous education taught by dedicated faculty.
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