Effect of Distance Learning in Nursing Education

Effect of Distance Learning in Nursing Education
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Nursing Distance Education

Distance learning has become increasingly popular in the last few years. It seems that every other person you ask is pursuing their college education online. Certain subjects seem like they cannot be adequately learned online, and one of these is nursing. Many argue that nursing cannot be taught through distance learning. The effect of distance learning on nursing education is highly debated, and there are pros and cons discussed in this never-ending debate.

Cost of Education Effects

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing feels that distance learning is simply taking advantage of the technology we have available such as computers and the Internet. Taking classes online will result in the costs of education being lower and students being able to attend colleges all over the world without having to uproot. Students who do not have to move to go to school will save money on traveling costs, finding a new place to live (this place may be more expensive depending on the city to college they want to go to is located in), and students will not have to buy new things for a new apartment.

Colleges will also save money. They can have the same instructor teach multiple classes at the same time because they will simply have to log on to the internet to do this. Professors will not be giving two-hour lectures anymore when they are teaching via distance education. They will be able to spend less time working which means the university will end up having to pay them less money.

Faster Completion Time

Nursing students who wish to become registered nurses will spend approximately four years attending a college or university. Distance learning is shortening the time they spend in school. Some schools have accelerated online programs in which a four year degree is completed in two to three years.

On-campus nursing schools are also utilizing distance learning methods for prerequisite classes. For example, nursing students will take all of their core nursing classes and clinicals on campus, but they will complete their history, English, math, humanities, arts, and a few other non-nursing or science courses via the internet. This allows students to take five or more classes at a time instead of the traditional four classes per semester that a full-time student takes.

Clinical Classes

effect of distance learning on nursing education

Nurses must learn a variety of clinical skills in nursing school. Those who already possess an RN degree and wish to obtain a BSN or a doctoral in nursing will not really need any clinical classes to advance their education, but aspiring LPNs and RNs must have hands-on experience and an in-class environment to learn these skills. Nurses must learn to draw blood, administer a variety of injections, do EKG’s, do TB tests, take vital signs, and assist the doctor in other in other clinical procedures that cannot be learned through distance learning. Nurses can learn medical terminology, nutrition, and even anatomy and physiology online, but they cannot practice blood draws and intramuscular injections via distance learning.

The effect of distance learning on nursing education is still heavily debated. There are definite pros, but there are also definite cons. As technology advances we will see new distance learning opportunities for nursing students. As the years pass, these effects may become all positive, but only time and technology will tell.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2005). Distance Technology in Nursing Education. Retrieved on February 22, 2010 from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing: https://www.aacn.nche.edu/Publications/positions/whitepaper.htm

National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health. (2000). The Effects of Internet-Based Distance Learning in Nursing. Retrieved on February 22, 2010 from PubMed: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10673813

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Nurse: ZoofyTheJi – sxc.hu

Synringe: iwanbeijes - sxc.hu