When Carole Eldridge began her career almost 40 years ago, she graduated from a diploma school of nursing to become a registered nurse (RN). That was the norm then and it was considered sufficient training for nurses.
“Not any longer,” said Eldridge, director of graduate programs at the Chamberlain College of Nursing. “Research has shown us that hospital outcomes are significantly better when the nurses at the bedside have a bachelor of nursing degree or higher.”
Health care has grown more complex, nursing practice is now evidence-based and nurses are taking leadership roles in health care systems. Colleges and universities require masters- or doctoral-prepared nurses to teach the next generation of nurses, who will be in greater demand as the population grows and ages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 26 percent growth in RN employment through 2020.
Eldridge believes the profession has been elevated through higher education. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees in nursing, and then moved from the bedside to teaching and college administration.
“At the time, I wondered if going to school was worth it because it took time away from my family and work, but I have gotten back so much more in personal satisfaction, career growth and compensation,” she said.
Chamberlain College of Nursing, which has campuses in 12 cities (including Atlanta) as well as an online presence, is making it possible for students to enter the nursing work force with a bachelor’s degree in just three years. Tuition and fees for the online-only, RN-to-BSN degree ranges from about $19,000 to $30,000, depending on the number of credits a student is able to transfer into the program. Financial aid and military discounts are available.
Chamberlain also offers an online-only program that allows students to become a master’s-prepared nurse in three years. Students accepted into the RN-BSN-MSN program substitute two master’s-level courses for undergraduate courses, accelerating the time it takes to earn both degrees. The program costs $55,420.
Students take six core courses (the theoretical foundations of nursing, health care policy, informatics, advanced research methods, practice roles and leadership) before deciding on a six-course track for the master’s degree.
Students may choose the educator track to become nursing instructors, the executive track to move into health care administration, the informatics track (the IT side of health care) or the health care policy track. By taking extra business courses, students can earn dual MSN/MBA degrees.
“The course work is challenging, but the unique thing about Chamberlain is that while the school is large [10,800 students] and spread over 12 campuses, the atmosphere is close-knit, like a family,” Eldridge said.
Eldridge said that graduation ceremonies for students in the online program seem more like family reunions, as nurses who have become friends and supported each other via the computer meet face-to-face.
“One of the benefits of online education is that sharing among professionals across geographical and specialty boundaries. It enriches everyone’s learning,” she said.
For information, call 888-556-8226 or go to www.chamberlain.edu.