Everything You Need to Know About Studying Nursing Online

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (844) 319-2107.

Summary: When considering the merits of online nursing programs, it’s important to understand the quality and credibility of online learning. There are pros and cons to becoming a nurse online, however an online nursing education is much more interactive than you might think.

How to become a nurse online.

Between wildfires, a global pandemic, and countless other alarming news headlines, it’s easy to want to limit leaving the sanctuary of your home in 2020. With winter weather fast approaching, the reasons to go anywhere are becoming fewer and far between. Staying home is a smart move — but it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your goal of becoming a nurse.

At Madonna University, we've been teaching the theory portion of our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program online for years. Unlike other schools that had to reimagine their online offerings and scramble to accommodate a world in the era of COVID-19, we’ve consistently provided our students a user-friendly and effective online learning portal in place since way before the pandemic. We know the ins and outs of making online learning a fulfilling experience; meanwhile, other schools are playing catch up.

Even though you’ll be learning virtually, at Madonna, we make sure you have the ability to converse directly with your professors, build relationships with other students, and earn your nursing degree in a way that works with your schedule.

Although you will have to attend in-person labs and clinicals, you can rest assured knowing that Madonna University has been a driving force in finding innovative ways to keep our students safe while they learn critical skills.

If you’ve ever wondered, “can I earn a nursing degree online?” the answer is yes! We’re here to help you weigh the pros and cons of earning a nursing degree online, learn more about our program, and discover the opportunities earning your BSN online can bring.

We’re here to help you achieve your goals no matter what the world throws at you. Read on for everything you need to know about online nursing education.

What Is the Online-Based ABSN Program at Madonna University?

With Madonna University’s 16-month ABSN program, you’re getting a top-quality nursing education tailored to your needs. Our online coursework is not an adaptation of campus-based lectures, as many universities have been forced to offer, but rather developed intentionally to provide learners a rich experience designed to accommodate a variety of learning preferences. This means that no matter how you learn, you’ll find elements in our online programming that support you in a unique way.

Interactive innovations — such as videos, discussion boards, quizzes, and more that we will discuss later in this post — help to support all different types of learners and are housed on Canvas, allowing easy recall if you wish to revisit a lesson or exercise.

Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program fosters a supportive learning environment that prepares you to answer the call to become a registered nurse without compromising convenience.

Because our online coursework is funneled through a digital learning platform, you can complete your coursework at a pace that works for you — provided you meet the deadlines set by your professor. The online platform also allows you to “attend class” when it fits your schedule.

What’s online accelerated nursing coursework like at Madonna University?

Find the courage to pursue your dream - Madonna ABSN student using laptop

“Your online learning experience is made up of modules,” says Madonna ABSN student Steve.

“Each learning module starts with an objective — it’s the first thing you see. You’ll then see a list of required readings that will help you get the material down. From there you’ll find practice activities — whether it be interactive matching games or critical thinking exercises. These activities will help you hone in on your skill. Lastly, you’ll find a list of assignments, case studies, and quizzes. These requirements really help you nail down the nursing concepts of that module.”

While the online nursing curriculum portion of our ABSN program allows you some autonomy and independence, it’s important to know you are not alone. We support your online learning experience every step of the way and help ensure you’re getting the most out of your program.

To help ensure your success as an online student, you will have access to all the same resources as Madonna University’s on-campus students.

For example, the nursing instructors for your online curriculum are available to help you with concepts and questions just like if you attended class on campus. Additionally, our online learning specialists are also on hand to assist you with any technical questions you may have about the learning management system.

“Madonna sets us up with the right resources to help us really learn the material,” says Kelsey, a Madonna University Accelerated BSN program student and former emergency medical technician (EMT). “Each week we have virtual conference calls where our instructor goes over the material for that week. They are made to be interactive. You can type back to them and ask them questions as they lecture. Plus, they record them so you can go back and listen.”

As a Madonna University ABSN student, you can expect to:

  • Earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.
  • Complete nursing courses online.
  • Learn nursing skills within the context of Catholic and Franciscan values.
  • Gain real-world clinical experience through one of our dedicated academic practice partners, Ascension Michigan, as well as other leading community-based and acute healthcare facilities in the metro Detroit area.
  • Graduate prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN® exam.

In-Person Nursing Labs and Clinicals

While your courses will be online, there’s so much that goes into nursing that cannot be taught or learned without being involved hands-on.

Your online ABSN courses are only one piece of the program’s comprehensive, blended learning model. You complete your hands-on nursing skills training at our ABSN Site near Detroit several times a week, as well as complete clinical rotations at Ascension Michigan or one of our other academic practice partners.

So, what can you expect from simulation and skills labs? Basically, these will serve as a trial run for the materials you learn online — allowing you to put your knowledge to use in a low-stakes environment overseen by instructors.

Our onsite nursing skills and simulation labs feature state-of-the-art medical training equipment, including high-tech manikins that realistically simulate a wide variety of functions. Manikins serve as your first patients; you’ll learn to monitor the manikins’ breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate patterns, and even perform wound care.

You’ll also be taught how to properly handle various pieces of equipment, such as vials, needles, and stethoscopes, and be able to get comfortable with these objects before practicing in a real-world environment.

Nursing Skills Labs Allow You to Hone Your Skills

Our nursing skills lab is designed like a hospital, complete with advanced medical equipment, supplies, and high-tech manikins so you learn to put online concepts into practice in a realistic and risk-free environment. Nursing skills labs teach you how to apply fundamental nursing skills safely and effectively, such as:

  • Performing holistic head-to-toe assessments
  • Inserting a catheter
  • Taking vitals: blood pressure, pulse, and respirations
  • Caring for wounds
  • Inserting nasogastric (NG) tubes

“Getting to know those skills really well and getting really good at those skills makes you a better nurse and makes you more confident when you go into clinicals,” says Chas, an Accelerated BSN student.

Simulation Labs Are Where You Learn to Think Like a Nurse

You’ll also experience nursing simulation labs, which revolve around realistic scenarios that challenge you to problem solve, collaborate, and think critically without the fear of harming an actual patient.

Over the course of our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll participate in a variety of nursing simulation labs, each supporting different learning objectives.

There, students may, for example, play different roles in the timed simulated scenarios, acting as a nurse, doctor, or family member, in order to gain a full understanding of how to communicate.

An In-Depth Look at Nursing Skills and Simulation Labs

The purpose of Madonna University ABSN’s innovative comprehensive learning model is to provide extensive hands-on practice to students in a risk-free learning environment through skills and simulation labs. Both types of labs teach you how to put the nursing theory concepts you’ve already learned into experiential practice safely; however, they do differ.

Nursing Skills Labs

Skills lab is where you learn how to apply basic procedural skills, like performing physical assessments, administering medications and measuring blood pressure. “We build up our skills from bottom to top,” says Accelerated BSN student Steve.

You’ll even administer some basic skills on your classmates. “We split up into groups and practice with our classmates to make sure we covered all the steps, and then we have a validation where we are tested on that skill,” says Accelerated BSN student Cassidy.

Nursing Simulation Labs

Simulation lab is the closest experience you will have to working on real patients. “You have one room that looks just like a hospital room and then you have a bed with a manikin that breathes, has a heartbeat, and talks,” explains Steve.

nursing student working with sim manikin

Your instructors can control what the manikin does, leaving you to determine and execute a proper patient care plan. This little unexpected twist makes the experience more like real-world treatment, and your professor can drill you on what you’ve learned.

After a nursing simulation lab ends, faculty and classmates will discuss everything that happened during the scenario.
These debrief sessions allow you to learn from the experience free from judgment. They also provide instructors an opportunity to understand your actions and clinical approach so they can prepare you for the next stage of the ABSN curriculum — clinical rotations.

Nursing School Clinical Rotations

Even though you will technically be an online student, there are plenty of opportunities to get face-to-face feedback, make connections, and learn with other students.

In addition to the labs, you will also complete in-person clinicals. Madonna University has taken steps to promote student health with personal protective equipment (PPE), social distancing guidelines, and other innovative protections.

Madonna University’s clinical placements are held with one of our academic practice partners, Ascension Michigan.

As a leading faith-based healthcare system in Michigan, Ascension Michigan is the perfect environment to learn from and work with the best nursing professionals in the state. Through the 16-month duration of our ABSN program, you will work with patients in a variety of specialties, including:

  • Adult and Older Adult Health
  • Maternity and Pediatrics
  • Acute Care
  • Mental and Behavioral Health

Your first clinical experience, Holistic Mental Health Nursing Care, will begin in your second semester. Other clinical placements you will experience throughout the ABSN program are medical surgical, health in the community, and population.

Your accelerated nursing clinicals at Ascension Michigan will require you to not only observe but get directly involved and apply your nursing knowledge. Learning these essential nursing skills and successfully applying them during clinicals at Ascension Michigan is an important step toward graduation and your future as a registered nurse.

ABSN student standing by whiteboard

Clinical Rotations in the Madonna ABSN Program Build a Solid Foundation

You can think of your clinical rotations as a 16-month job interview. Everything you learn online will prepare you to work and network with medical professionals. You will work with top-notch staff over the course of the Madonna ABSN program so you can build relationships and network for your post-graduation nursing future.

While we do try to incorporate as much as we can online, you can now understand why our labs and clinicals must be completed in person. After all, would you want to fly in an airplane manned by a pilot who has only ever flown in an online simulation?

While online nursing theory coursework plays a big part in Madonna University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, it’s vital that you gain valuable hands-on experience before caring for patients in a hospital setting.

True or False: You can work a full-time job and complete an online-based nursing program.
FALSE! Working full-time during your online nursing education journey is not recommended.

Madonna’s ABSN program is compressed into four semesters and moves quickly. Between online coursework, hands-on labs, and in-hospital clinical rotations, you can expect to spend up to 40 hours a week completing lectures, assignments, writing papers, responding to discussion boards, and more.

Our Online-Based Nursing Program Is Credible

According to U.S. News & World Report, accrediting agencies hold programs with online coursework to the same standards of quality as programs with on-campus courses.

Like we mentioned earlier, as an online student you have access to all the same resources as on-campus students. Likewise, our online-based nursing program also holds the same accreditation as our in-person program. This ensures your accelerated nursing education meets strict standards and qualifies you to sit for the NCLEX-RN® exam, which upon passing, qualifies you to become a registered nurse.

By enrolling in Madonna’s ABSN program, you’ll receive a quality education that prepares you to enter the workforce as a competent, compassionate registered nurse.

Did you know? You don’t have to work as a registered nurse in a hospital. Once you earn your degree through Madonna’s Accelerated BSN program, you can practice nursing in a variety of environments including:

  • Homes
  • Offices
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Nursing Homes
  • Urgent Care/Walk-in Clinics
  • Outpatient Clinics

Pros and Cons of Online-Based Nursing Programs

Everyone learns differently. Generally speaking, there are four different learning preferences. Now, these labels don’t mean that you can only learn this way, but rather that things process a little easier and sink in faster when presented in a certain way. For example:

  • Visual learners benefit from the imagery and graphic displays of information.
  • Aural learners benefit from being able to replay critical portions of learning activities for better retention.
  • Tactile learners benefit from task-based, interactive simulations.
  • Social learners benefit from discussion forums that connect with classmates and instructors.

Pros of Online-Based Nursing Programs

A major pro of our online-based nursing program is that each of these learning preferences inform Madonna’s online coursework, which is why online-based nursing programs are ideal for most students. Madonna ABSN’s online coursework is designed to help you better retain material through various forms of media, including video and task-based simulations that immerse you in the coursework and reinforce important nursing concepts.

While you may have friends at other schools who have had poor experiences with online learning, our online coursework was no last-minute adaptation of a traditional, classroom experience but rather intentionally designed to accommodate all four previously mentioned learner preferences.

Because of this meticulous construction with you in mind, our program is suited for all different types of learners — not just those who succeed in a traditional lecture format.

You are able to engage with the accelerated online nursing material with our interactive learning objects. For instance, you may encounter a matching activity that requires you to drag and drop an organ into its proper location within the human body.

An Online Student’s Survival Guide
Wondering how to set the stage for online coursework success? These five items will make studying at home a breeze.

Common Misconceptions of Online-Based Nursing Programs

On the flip side, a common misconception of online-based nursing programs that is important to understand is that just because a nursing program is offered online doesn’t mean it’s going to be easier than if you attended on-campus.

Mapping out the time alone to get study work done and staying motivated and driven to complete coursework autonomously can also be major roadblocks to students who are used to getting reminders in class or having their professors check-in about due dates. In our program, you are responsible for meeting deadlines and ensuring projects are submitted on time. That means you must have the discipline to sit down and do the work, which can be challenging.

Studying from “the convenience of your own home” sounds amazing on the surface, but it is not right for everyone. If you work a job and have a family, you’re likely to be studying late at night, early in the morning, on weekends, or even holidays to make sure your schoolwork gets done.

It takes commitment and persistence that many people may struggle with for the long haul. So, consider the pros and cons carefully before you decide an online nursing coursework option is right for you.

nursing student studying on laptop

Myth Busted: Anyone can succeed in an online-based nursing program.
While our program is suited to a variety of learners, it does move at an aggressive pace. It takes a special type of individual to succeed in an online-based nursing program, especially if it’s accelerated, like Madonna’s ABSN program. If you can:

  • Manage your time
  • Be self-disciplined
  • Be organized
  • Be persistent
  • Have a routine and dedicated study environment
  • Understand how you learn best
  • Anticipate stress

…then our program may be right for you!

ABSN Program Admissions Process

Now you have the facts: studying nursing online isn’t for everyone, but it’s a great and convenient way to answer your call to become a registered nurse without waiting forever or leaving home more than needed.

If you are ready to start your nursing school journey through Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program, here are the first four steps you need to take in the admissions process.

1. Chat with an Admissions Representative.

After you fill out the contact form on this page, you will get a phone call from an admissions representative. During this call, you will discuss your academic qualifications and career goals with your representative to make sure we are a good fit for you. Your representative will then become your main point of contact throughout the admissions process, guiding you through each step of the way!

2. Make an Academic Plan.

Once you are admitted to Madonna University, you will work with your retention specialist to work out a personalized success plan and choose a start date in the ABSN program, in January, May, or September.

3. Successfully Complete Any Outstanding Prerequisites.

While you don’t need prior nursing education or healthcare experience to apply to the ABSN program, you do need to meet certain academic requirements. Your program eligibility also hinges upon the successful completion of the ABSN prerequisites, passing with a grade of C or higher.

4. Complete Your Nursing School Application

You can complete the ABSN program application online, where you will:

  • Find instructions for submitting official transcripts from the college or university you previously attended.
  • Submit a letter of intent to the College of Nursing & Health.
  • Complete the Madonna Writing Assessment.

Get Started on Your Accelerated Nursing Education Today!

If you think a hybrid, hands-on and online-based nursing program is right for you, Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN program is here to help you achieve your goal of becoming an RN.

Get started today by connecting with one of our admissions representatives. In addition to answering any outstanding questions you may have about the program, he or she will help determine your eligibility and identify any prerequisite courses you need to complete so you have a plan.