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Choosing legitimate online nursing programs

Becoming a licensed nurse to care for patients with a wide range of ailments and conditions requires significant training and dedication. It’s not something to be taken lightly nor compromised in any way because lives are at stake. Nursing is an honorable profession. Men and women put in long, hard hours to gain the necessary skills and experience to become licensed to practice in their states of residence. And yet, in January 2023, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Florida charged 25 defendants for allegedly selling fraudulent nursing diplomas and transcripts that allowed students to sit for the national nursing board exam without having completed the required coursework and clinical hours.1

Keep reading to learn about the various dangers of fraudulent degree programs in this essential field and the importance of choosing a legitimate online nursing program. Find out how you can earn an online nursing degree from a fully accredited, reputable institution to help you further your career aspirations.

The importance of accredited programs and licensure for nursing

What happens if a nursing degree turns out to be fraudulent? As ABC News pointed out, these forged diplomas and transcripts allowed thousands of candidates over several years to skip the usual classwork and critical clinical requirements that one must have to take the national nursing board exam and gain licensure. Once licensed by a state’s licensing board, a person is legally qualified to work in the healthcare field. Falsified credentials pose a serious risk to the safety and health of patients, in addition to tarnishing the reputation of legally qualified, hard-working nurses and eroding public trust in the healthcare industry.2

In this case, those charged included employees, owners, and operators of the three schools, which highlights the need to ensure that the school and program you choose to further your nursing career is fully legitimate and trustworthy.2

What to look for in an online nursing program

Although online nursing degree programs were not always available, most schools now offer some nursing classes online. Online nursing programs, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), can be beneficial for working registered nurses (RNs) who want to earn bachelor’s or master’s degrees to advance their careers without taking time off work. With online courses they can continue their education while gaining the necessary clinical experience at work.3 The problem is that there are now so many online nursing programs that it’s difficult to know which are reputable and which are not. It’s extremely important that you choose an online nursing school that meets certain criteria.

Is the institution fully accredited?

Accreditation means that the school has been guaranteed by an independent agency to offer legitimate degree programs. Two primary agencies set the standards and ensure that the program’s curriculum is reviewed by nursing professionals and meets state and federal standards for licensing requirements. These agencies are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The school you choose should be accredited by one or the other.4

The main difference between the CCNE and the ACEN is that the ACEN provides accreditation for all nursing educational levels, whereas the CCNE is exclusively for graduate programs and fellowships. Both meet all U.S. nursing requirements.5

Accreditation is very important when looking for a position after graduation, as employers will look to this as an indication of superior and valid education. Both agencies are highly regarded and are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. They hold online nursing programs to the same high standards as on-campus programs, and they require curricula to have either a clinical or a practicum component. Accredited online nursing degree programs must be regularly reviewed and re-accredited.6

Does the university have a good reputation?

Look for an online nursing program that is part of a larger university that also offers traditional on-campus programs and has a history of academic excellence, with classes taught by working professionals in the healthcare field. If the university also offers traditional on-campus nursing programs, this is a good sign that it is well-established in the nursing industry, with connections to area healthcare organizations. An online nursing program should offer the same robust curriculum as a traditional on-campus degree program.4

Is the school approved by your state’s board of nursing?

Your state’s board of nursing approves all reputable nursing programs, and if you have graduated from one of these programs, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). You should check with the board of nursing in your state to ensure that it has approved the school and nursing program you are considering.4

The benefits of an advanced degree in nursing

If you’re currently a registered nurse, you can expand your career possibilities and earnings with a BSN or MSN degree. According to Payscale, with a BSN degree, you can earn an average of $91,000 annually, with a wide range of positions available. These include RN, family nurse practitioner, nursing manager, nursing director and nurse case manager.7 If you have an MSN degree, the average salary rises to $100,000 and additional career options include acute care nurse practitioner, advanced registered nurse practitioner and psychiatric nurse practitioner.8

A U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics chart shows a nurse’s earning potential more than doubling with a master’s degree.9

Advance your nursing career with an online degree from the Kramer School of Nursing

Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing online nursing degree programs equip students with the knowledge and experience they need to advance their healthcare careers. We offer an Online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) and an Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), each designed to fit the schedules and needs of working nurses.

Kramer School of Nursing is fully accredited by ACEN and the Higher Learning Commission, offering a robust curriculum designed by nursing professionals. All faculty are committed to each individual’s success, creating a vibrant learning environment where students can advance their careers.

For more information about our online nursing programs, speak to an Admissions Advisor today.

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