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Choosing an Online Nursing Program in Texas – What You Need to Know

A healthy economy, promising job growth, and great pay — these are just three of the many reasons to pursue an online nursing program in Texas. Should you choose the ABSN track at Concordia University, you will gain a unique set of skills that will appeal to prospective employers.

Online learning for nursing programs is here to stay.

If you are looking for an accredited online nursing program in Texas, you are probably wondering, “Can I get my RN degree online?” You should know that it is not possible to attain a nursing degree 100 percent online. But it is possible to enroll in a program that includes online coursework instead of the traditional university lecture format. And as with any nursing program, you will participate in hands-on labs and clinicals. More about that later in this post.

Why are “online nursing programs” a great option to consider? In the wake of the nation’s nursing shortage, online/hands-on hybrid nursing tracks like the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track at Concordia University Texas (CTX) are helping to educate more nurses more quickly. By moving much of the traditional in-class content to Concordia’s Blackboard online learning management system (LMS), CTX can cut down on the number of classrooms needed, thereby making room for greater enrollment. We also allow for a greater number of students each year by offering three start dates — in January, May, and August.

Why Choose an Online Nursing Program in Texas?

Let’s look specifically at the nursing employment outlook in the state of Texas.

There are many good reasons to choose an online nursing program in Texas. Healthcare industry jobs are plentiful. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Texas ranks in the top five states for employment of registered nurses. And the number of registered nursing jobs in Texas is expected to grow by 16.8 percent from 2018 to 2028. This is well above projected nationwide job growth for nurses.

Another benefit of pursuing nursing in Texas is the fact that it is a nurse compact state. This means that nurses earning licensure in Texas can work in 33 other nurse compact states.

And let’s not forget this benefit of pursuing an online nursing education in Texas: the state’s annual average wage for a registered nurse in May 2020 was $76,800.

Now that you know the perks of choosing a nursing program in Texas, let’s look at the benefits of choosing online study, and why you should consider the ABSN program at CTX.

ABSN@CTX Knows Online Study

If you are thinking of beginning online nursing school, you are not alone. Students nationwide are pursuing online paths in record numbers. The US e-Learning market is set to grow by $12.81 billion between 2020 and 2024.

In light of the recent pandemic, an even greater number of schools have begun offering some form of online learning. However, it is important to note that just because a college or university offers an online program, does not mean that the program is of high quality. To create a quality program, the school must have expert knowledge in instructional design, as well as the tech support students need.

The pandemic has forced some universities to develop “emergency remote teaching,” according to Lynette O’Keefe, director of research and innovation at the Online Learning Consortium. Emergency remote teaching makes it necessary for faculty and students who have planned for in-person learning to switch to an online model, whether they are prepared or not.

Fortunately, at CTX in Austin, TX, online learning is not new to us. Our ABSN track for non-nurses has included a blend of online coursework and hands-on labs and clinicals since its inception, making ours among the best online nursing programs in Texas.

ABSN CTX visual and aural learning elements enhance understanding for nursing students
Screenshot from an ABSN@CTX online learning module

Online Learning at ABSN@CTX: How It Works

When online learning first began, it usually consisted of PowerPoint slides to read through, along with some multiple-choice exams. Little interactivity was available. Slow internet speeds and limited computer processing power made classes text-heavy and, often, boring. Today’s quick internet and processor speeds mean that online courses can include more interesting multimedia elements.

At ABSN@CTX, in addition to assigned textbook readings, students complete nursing theory coursework online through an e-Learning platform that lets you:

  • Listen to, view, read, and interact with coursework materials.
  • Submit assignments.
  • Discuss coursework with other students using an online forum.
  • Stay organized using its calendar function.

What About Socialization?

Some students worry that enrolling in an online learning track for nursing school means missing out on networking and human interaction. Nursing students connect through online discussion forums, social media, videoconferencing, email, and even by phone. They will also participate in in-person simulation/skills labs and clinical rotations with members of their cohort (more on those below).

Hybrid Curriculum: You can’t become a nurse completely online.

Our intuitive online ABSN courses are taught by the same distinguished faculty who teach our campus-based nursing degrees. Still, anyone who argues that you can’t learn to become a nurse solely through online classes is right. Nursing requires not only learning concepts and skills but also putting them into practice. As a result, CTX has created a hybrid learning experience. In addition to its online learning component, this model includes skills and simulation labs as well as a variety of clinical rotations with area healthcare organizations.

Skills Labs

In skills labs, you will learn to take blood pressure and insert catheters, IVs, nasogastric tubes, and more. You will practice some of these skills on task trainers and full-body medical manikins, while you’ll practice others with (and on) classmates.

Simulation Labs

Simulation labs are designed to feel like a real-life healthcare environment, without the fear of harming an actual patient. You will learn to complete basic examinations as well as care for patients with more complex needs.

Manikins in the simulation labs are more sophisticated than those used in skills labs. You will likely care for a manikin that breathes, blinks, talks, has heart sounds, and displays various other capabilities. They actually simulate symptoms and conditions you will be apt to encounter in a real healthcare setting.

As you practice on your manikin, your instructor will observe you through a two-way mirror. This way, they can test your ability to critically assess the situation and respond to your performance as it happens.

Clinical Rotations

During your clinical rotations, you will work alongside experienced faculty. You’ll gain experience in various real-world settings, from outpatient clinics to community health centers to hospitals. You will first observe nurses interacting with patients; then you will care for those patients yourself. This experience gives you exposure to — and allows you to network with — potential employers in the Austin area. Areas of rotation can include adult health, mental health, obstetrics, pediatrics, intensive care, acute care, and long-term care, for example.

Gain Valuable Skills through Our ABSN Track

It is no surprise that online degree tracks like ABSN@CTX are flourishing. They offer many benefits to students, including development of the following skills:

1. Time Management

Students must learn to contact professors when needed, complete assignments on time, stay organized, and plan. They must juggle labs and clinicals in addition to coursework. Healthcare employers desire time management skills like those learned in our online nursing track.

With online coursework, you are not tied to a specific classroom schedule or location for nursing theory courses. Instead, online learning allows you to complete work on your own time. Keep in mind, there are still deadlines and expectations. But flexibility in scheduling allows for a more balanced life. Another benefit of online education is that you can pause lessons as you wish and read notes anytime. You are free to revisit past topics and materials as needed.

2. Self-Motivation

If you are successful in earning an online BSN degree, you have proven that you are self-motivated. You have completed multiple tasks, set priorities, and adapted to changing work settings. Successful online students learn well independently and seek out new ways of doing things. These traits are highly attractive to employers.

3. Communicating and Collaborating

Working with others in an online setting gives you the opportunity to create efficient processes and choose best communication practices. You will learn to present your ideas and arguments confidently through the written and spoken word.

As you regularly engage with discussion boards, you will learn to collaborate effectively as part of a virtual team. Online collaboration is great practice for maintaining a professional image. You must be polite and considerate of differing ideas to maintain the respect of your peers. 

Additionally, communication with instructors can be easier in an online setting, as they may seem more approachable. Students can talk openly with their instructors through chats, emails, or discussion boards — instead of in-person. Online communication is also much more convenient than waiting for office hours that fit your schedule.

With online learning, students also have time to think about their responses and enter comments once they feel ready.

Tips for Online Learning

Should you decide to pursue an online nursing education, here are some tips for successful online learning:

1. Be Organized from the Start

Be sure that you can access the course materials online before the class starts. You should find your way around the online system ahead of time so that you are not struggling on the first day of class. Also make sure you have what you need to take comprehensive notes — whether it’s a laptop or pen and paper.

2. Create a Workspace

Designate an area in your house or apartment for studying alone. If you habitually do your work there, you will establish a routine. Make sure you have a strong internet connection. Also, limit distractions; you can use apps like Freedom or ColdTurkey to eliminate phone interruptions and block social media sites while you are studying.

3. Maximize your Learning Style

Pay attention to how and when you complete your best work. If it’s in the morning, make it a habit to study bright and early. If you perform better at night, then hit the books after dinner. Figure out whether you work better with music playing or in silence. If you learn best aurally, be sure to play the audio and video-based course materials.

4. Follow a Schedule

Create a schedule for yourself. A planner is a great investment for the organized student. Mark assignments on a calendar, along with exam dates and upcoming personal events to prevent conflicts. Check the calendar daily. You can go a step further and schedule reading, lab, assignment, clinical, study, and online forum time. Be sure to let people know you are unavailable during work times. You can also set a timer so that you can get through all required tasks.

ABSN@CTX student, Ann Marie, practicing her skills in lab.

“I really prefer online learning over classroom learning. Online you really have to keep up your own calendar. If you don’t understand something you need to reach out.” – Ann Marie, ABSN Graduate, December 2018

5. Participate

Students who make time to communicate with their professors and classmates have greater success. Be sure to read all assigned materials and do further research if you don’t understand something. Don’t be afraid to reach out for extra help — either by email or during office hours, for example.

6. Stay Connected

Get to know the students in your cohort. You can build relationships effectively through discussion boards, labs, and clinicals. Be sure to ask and answer questions as appropriate. You will not only deepen your knowledge; you will build a bond with other students. If you make connections with fellow students, you might choose to form a study group.

Reach out to your professor(s) if you have any questions. Instructors appreciate students who make an effort to engage. And if you fall behind for any reason, be sure to let your instructor know as soon as possible.

7. Have an Open Mind

Online learning allows students to really think about their viewpoints before answering a question or commenting on a thread. Many times, online students are more comfortable sharing online because there is an element of anonymity. Try to keep an open mind so that your online forum can be an accepting and engaging place.

8. Be Accountable

Since you won’t be receiving verbal or visual reminders of an assignment’s due date as you would in a traditional college classroom, you need to stay accountable to yourself. It’s your responsibility to ensure you have enough time to complete each assignment. If you are having trouble staying on track, it’s a good idea to establish an accountability partner — be it a fellow student, friend, or spouse.

Reap the Benefits of ABSN@CTX

Earning your BSN from our program is advantageous to your future nursing career because it allows you to graduate sooner, experience multiple modes of learning, and strengthen your character. In the ABSN@CTX track, you can expect:

1. An Accelerated Nursing Degree Track

If you decide to pursue an online nursing program in Texas, you can earn a BSN from Concordia University in as few as 16 months. That’s because we take your previous education into account, allowing you to graduate sooner. To enroll in the CTX ABSN track, you must have completed 60 credit hours — either through your prior education or by completing nursing prerequisites online at Concordia University Texas.

Although you may be required to complete prerequisite coursework (if you haven’t already), unlike many nursing tracks, CTX puts no expiration on science courses. So even if you took microbiology 10 years ago, you will not have to retake it — as long as you passed with a grade of C or higher.

Once you are enrolled in our online nursing track, you will complete 63 credit hours over four 16-week semesters. This includes online coursework, skills and simulation labs, and various clinical rotations at area healthcare facilities.

2. A Variety of Learning Materials for All Types of Learners

Everyone has their own learning preferences. Some people need to see concepts presented visually in order to remember them. For others, listening is the best way to learn. To ensure our online coursework is engaging for a wide array of students, we present material in a variety of formats, including:

  • Video and audio activities
  • Interactive learning and review modules
  • Traditional reading assignments
  • Virtual office hour chats with nursing tutors

Simply reading about the assessment of a fetal heart rate is something entirely different than hearing that heartbeat for yourself. And reading about the stages and risks of pregnancy is not as engaging as making assessments based on patient data.

ABSN@CTX’s interactive online coursework allows student to see and hear the body’s internal processes in action, resulting in a better understanding of how they work, along with an improved ability to recognize conditions.

3. A Faith-based Education that Will Set You Apart

CTX looks at nursing as a vocation — a calling from God. Our ABSN track focuses on treating the whole patient, not simply physical care. As Assistant Professor of the ABSN track, Robin Cook, put it, “We are here for the joy of serving others.”

Your time spent in the ABSN track will instill qualities that set you apart from other nurses, such as:

  • Upstanding character: We help you become a nurse who is caring, honest, understanding, nonjudgmental, humble, and empathetic.
  • Courage: Great nurse leaders have courage in times of doubt. This not only helps them through tough situations; it gives great comfort to patients and their families.
  • Unwavering commitment and self-discipline: No matter what circumstances arise, nurse leaders show an unwavering dedication to their profession, putting the needs of others ahead of their own.

Your education will also include instruction in cultural diversity, spiritual care, ethics, and evidence-based practice. While some of the above traits may come to you more naturally than others, our program can help fine-tune some of these characteristics in addition to vital nursing skills and knowledge.

4. A Rigorous Curriculum that Prepares You for the NCLEX

It is important to choose a nursing program that includes preparation for the NCLEX-RN®. You must pass this test to obtain a license to practice as a nurse.

“We spend a lot of time teaching students how to answer NCLEX-related questions,” says Sandra Gaskin, director of the ABSN track at CTX.

5. An Accredited Nursing Degree that Opens Doors

Attending an accredited college will allow for better employment opportunities, the ability to pursue advanced studies after receiving your bachelor’s degree, and the option to go into teaching. Concordia University’s ABSN track is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and it meets the approval of the Texas Board of Nursing (BON).

Let Your Nursing Journey Begin

Now that you know about the rewards of pursuing an online nursing program in Texas, as well as the benefits of earning a BSN in as few as 16 months through ABSN@CTX, reach out to one of our admissions counselors today. They can answer any questions you might have and walk you through the application process.

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