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Five Southeast schools offering nursing programs online

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Thanks to extended life spans and increased reliance on nurses throughout the health care system, government analysts expect continued job growth for nursing professionals over the next decade (bls.gov, 2012). However, nurses no longer need to settle for entry-level roles in underserved communities. A recent study shows that nurses who get extra training can qualify for higher paying jobs, especially with employers who reward loyalty with tuition reimbursement (lww.com).

According to officials at the United States Health Resources and Services Administration, the passage of the Affordable Care Act should create even more opportunities for nurses with training on new medical technology, especially in rural areas (hhs.gov). Students who complete nursing programs online can get trained in the latest medical techniques, regardless of where they live or when they have free time for a class. Five schools based in the Southeast U.S. excel at bringing world class nursing education directly to students' screens. These are listed below in alphabetical order.

Loyola University New Orleans (LA)

After over three decades of training medical professionals, Loyola University New Orleans brought its nursing programs online in 2005. With degrees offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels, the school caters to nursing professionals who participate in their employers' tuition reimbursement programs.

A dedicated team of online instructors brings an average of eight years' distance learning experience to the virtual classroom. Their engagement has resulted in high retention figures, with four out of five students completing their chosen degree programs within three years. The school's award-winning Doctor of Nursing Practice program has enabled nurses to qualify for new jobs as nurse practitioners in 12 states.

Medical University of South Carolina (SC)

Since 2004, instructors in MUSC's graduate nursing online programs have posted their lectures to facilitate distance learning. With over 125 years of heritage behind them, professors at the Medical University of South Carolina like to say they're "fueling the nursing pipeline" by developing professionals who care about their communities. The institution prides itself on embracing the latest technology without allowing students to forget the need for human caring at the heart of medicine.

This school's online Doctor of Nursing Practice Program can prepare future health care leaders for careers as nurse practitioners and as practice administrators. The program includes an immersive, on-campus learning experience once per semester in Charleston. In addition, participants can build on their career foundations by participating in clinical experiences in South Carolina or at clinical sites in eligible partner states.

University of Alabama in Huntsville (AL)

UAH's leaders developed their accessible program specifically for students who can't spend much time on campus due to work or family commitments. The school does not require applicants to have practical nursing experience before enrollment, making this program ideal for nurses at the start of their careers. In addition to single courses designed for continuing education, UAH has offered bachelor's, master's and doctorate level nursing degrees since 2006.

Because UAH's campus-based degree programs have already integrated online learning tools into routine coursework, students of the school's online programs enjoy a high degree of engagement with peers and instructors. The school's team of dedicated professors each carries an average of five years of online teaching experience, providing personal interactions that complement the program's archive of recorded classroom lectures. The school emphasizes lifelong learning across disciplines, rewarding students who embrace a mission of disease prevention and health promotion.

University of Mississippi Medical Center (MS)

Mississippi's flagship nursing school has been educating medical professionals since 1948. During that time, the School of Nursing at UMMC has grown into one of the few state-supported schools in the country that also hosts a world class research facility. Faculty members have helped uncover biomarkers for tumor development, along with causes for the higher risk of cardiovascular disease among African-Americans. UMMC's research orientation underscores a significant shift in the nursing profession, with graduates trained in new technology they can bring to the field.

Along with recorded lectures from UMMC's classrooms in Jackson, online nursing students can benefit from interactions with over a dozen professors. Since online courses debuted in 2006, remote relationships between students and professors have helped this school achieve a remarkable retention rate. Nine out of ten students who enroll in one of UMMC's online degree programs complete their course of study within three years. Grounded in core values that include respect, diversity and integrity, the program has already made its impact felt throughout Mississippi and the Southeast.

University of West Georgia (GA)

A relatively new entrant to the list of nursing programs online, the University of West Georgia specializes in helping registered nurses (RNs) complete their bachelor's degrees so they can take on greater career challenges. With an emphasis on small class sizes and a high level of faculty-student interaction, the University of West Georgia has created a hybrid professional development program that benefits students who might feel intimidated by large lecture halls or other traditional classroom experiences. Students can complete required, in-person learning experiences at the main campus in Carrollton or at Georgia Highlands College in Rome.

Faculty in the program uphold the university's century-old tradition of emphasizing service to the community. Courses focus on values that include holistic thinking, problem solving, personal care and professional commitment. A broad liberal arts approach to the BSN degree can inspire nurses who might not otherwise explore courses in fine arts, social sciences and technology.

Technology has changed the way nurses learn their profession, almost as much as it has changed the nursing profession itself. Thanks to schools like these, more qualified nurses can enrich their own lives, improve the quality of life for their families and provide excellent care to families throughout their communities.

Sources

"Affordable Care Act funds to enhance quality of care at community health centers," U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, September 27, 2012, http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/09/20120927b.html

"Affordable Care Act helps expand the use of health information technology," Health Resources and Services Administration, December 20, 2012, http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/pressreleases/121220healthcenternetworks.html

"Loyola University New Orleans," U.S. News and World Report, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/loyola-university-new-orleans-ONUR0191/nursing

"Medical University of South Carolina," U.S. News and World Report, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/medical-university-of-south-carolina-ONUR0205/nursing?int=c6b9e3

Original Research: New Nurses: Has the Recession Increased Their Commitment to Their Jobs?" American Journal of Nursing, Brewer, Carol S. PhD, RN, FAAN; Kovner, Christine T. PhD, RN, FAAN; Yingrengreung, Siritorn PhD, RN; Djukic, Maja PhD, RN, March 2012, http://journals.lww.com/ajnonline/Fulltext/2012/03000/Original_Research___New_Nurses___Has_the_Recession.20.aspx

"Registered Nurses," Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2012-13 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/Healthcare/Registered-nurses.htm

"University of Alabama-Huntsville," U.S. News and World Report, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-alabama-in-huntsville-ONUR0357/nursing

"University of Mississippi Medical Center," U.S. News and World Report, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-mississippi-medical-center-ONUR0405/nursing

"University of West Georgia," U.S. News and World Report, 2013, http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/university-of-west-georgia-ONUR0464/nursing


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