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Why Now Is the Time to Take the Next Step in Your Nursing Education

Photo: Courtesy of University of Maryland School of Nursing

Healthcare employers are looking for nurses who are able to embrace innovation and translate the latest scientific evidence into practice. They want nurses who can lead and contribute to team-based care as interprofessional practice takes hold in many settings.

These developments underscore the need for highly educated nurses who are able to meet contemporary practice demands.

The next step

Taking the next step in your education will expand your career horizons, as many doors are open to nurses with additional layers of education. Hospitals and other healthcare providers are moving to provide new professional opportunities for nurses with higher levels of education.

Research conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) shows that more than 86 percent of employers are now either requiring or showing a strong preference for new nurses with baccalaureate or higher preparation.

A changing landscape

If it’s been awhile since you were in nursing school, things have changed. Nursing schools are often among the early adopters when it comes to introducing curricular innovations and fresh approaches to competency development.

Those returning to school can expect more use of educational technology, hybrid programs offering a mix of in-person and online classes, more emphasis on computer-simulated learning exercises, and “flipped” classrooms where supervised student-to-student teaching is becoming the norm.

Online programs are particularly popular with working nurses who wish to take classes that do not conflict with their schedules. Students considering an online program should use the same criteria for selecting a program as they would use in selecting a traditional program, including choosing accredited programs, locating programs that will help you reach your professional goals, and finding schools that specialize in your primary area of interest.

If you plan on taking online courses, you should speak with program administrators to find out more about what specific skill sets and strategies are most useful to student success in an online environment.

It’s worth it

Returning to school to advance your education is a big commitment but it is a decision that you will never regret. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to make informed choices and research all available options to determine which programs provide the best fit in terms of meeting your personal and professional goals.

With new practice opportunities emerging for nurses and the demand for highly skilled clinicians rising, the time is right to advance your education.

Robert Rosseter, Chief Communications Officer, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, [email protected]

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