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Online Colleges Offering Associate in Nursing

There's no doubt about it: Nurses are the unsung heroes of the medical profession. Not only do they provide hands-on patient care to the sick and injured, these skilled professionals also act as advocates for patients and train other caregivers. Nurses are adaptable, well-educated and stable, as they're often the ones dealing with distressed families during a time of crisis. Yes, it's a tall order and good nurses aren't made overnight. If you're a caring, compassionate person with a strong desire to help others, online nursing colleges can help you develop the skills needed to make a difference in this field.

An online associate degree in nursing can usually be completed in one, two or three years and is one of the most accessible education paths for future nurses. Though you'll most likely be required to take a few perquisite classes, most online nursing associate degree programs focus on teaching you the technical skills needed to perform nursing duties. According to information from the American Nurses Association, curriculum will likely cover subjects such as anatomy and physiology, biology, family health, chemistry, pharmacology and psychology. Part of your online nursing associate's degree training will likely include a hands-on portion of learning in a clinical environment, to be completed near your location under supervision in a hospital or health care facility. All of your training, including online coursework and any required clinicals, should prepare you to pass your state's board exams and the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, as needed to obtain a license to practice in your state.

Career Outlook for Online Nursing Associate Grads

According to career information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earning an online associate degree in nursing can prepare you for two career paths: You can end up as a licensed practical nurse, LPN, or registered nurse, or RN. Both career tracks have excellent growth projections. Licensed practical nurses, sometimes called licensed vocational nurses, or LVNs, are generalists and can work in almost any health care area. Registered nurses unusually begin their careers as staff nurses in hospitals and care centers. They can choose to earn credentials in specialties including ambulatory care, gerontology, informatics and pediatrics, which can prove expertise and create even more job prospects. RNs will likely find more room for career advancement, but these positions often require a bachelor's of science in nursing, or BSN, degree.

The American Nurses Association stresses the importance of continuing education for all nurses, so be prepared to return to the classroom even after earning your online nursing associate's. According to wage information from the BLS, LPNs and LVNs earned mean annual incomes of $41,360, while RNs earned median annual incomes of $67,720. No matter what path you choose, earning an online nursing associate degree can help you get started in a rewarding health care career.

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