The Sad Truth: Online Nursing Schools vs Traditional Schools

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    The stigma of an online degree remains for some brick and mortar schools. The future of nursing education is online in the 21st century. It is time to recognize the fact that some online schools have a better innovative program than traditional schools.

    The Sad Truth: Online Nursing Schools vs Traditional Schools

    To become a nurse was not a childhood dream of mine. It was something that I discovered I had a passion for in my early twenties. I had always loved math and science and figured I would become a scientist one day. I fell in love with nursing due to the study of the human body and the art of nursing itself. I have always had a compassion for people especially the older generation.

    My family was unable to support me during my early years while pursuing my current dream of becoming a caring professional nurse. I enrolled in a Licensed Practical Nursing program in 2006. The school was over 60 miles one way from my dad's house. In addition, I had to go to the school five days a week while working three different jobs. I was a lower income student that had to struggle to find a foothold in the college education bracket.

    Through much hard work, I passed the first two semesters of my practical nursing program. I was on top of the world at this point. I was approached by the director of the program to be grandfathered into the Registered Nurse (RN) program. They were looking to start a two year RN program and we were the guinea pigs. At first I had my reservations, thankfully at the pressing of the director I changed my mind and proceeded with the program. The program required another year of school and funds that I just did not have access to at the time. Thankfully my grades had obtained me a scholastic scholarship to continue for another year. My enthusiasm for nursing continued to be on the rise.

    The end of nursing school for the RN program came so fast. It was May of 2008 and I was being pinned with my RN pin. I passed my boards and went on to have six and a half years of good RN experience. My time in the acute care setting for three years taught me much about the truth of nursing. I changed my track and went into long term care with a new sense of direction.

    I was back where I started, but this time I would be in the RN role instead of the CNA. It was in this position for four years that I learned much about leadership. In addition, my time in this setting taught me much about nurse burnout. I never wanted to become that nurse. I thought since I had such high hopes about nursing that I would never fall to that excruciating word. I felt like I had lost the ability to care anymore.

    Behind my convincing smile, I was deeply hurt by emotions. I was emotionally overwhelmed and I knew that I needed change. I searched for other jobs, but it felt like I needed something more than additional burnout.

    I found a nursing program online that would lead me to a Master's of Science in Nursing Education. I had always loved my time in school. The atmosphere of learning, facilitating, and teaching was what excited me the most. I did an enormous amount of research on the program. I was always leery about an online program due to the stigma of an online degree. However, I did my investigation and discovered that the school was fully accredited by one of the major nurse accreditation agencies. In addition, the program was set to be in alignment with the National League for Nursing standards of nurse educators. The school was recognized by the US Department of Education as well.

    I enrolled in the program and graduation was before me. The program was intense, and it helped me grow professionally and personally. In the process of obtaining my degree, I discovered I had the ability to think and analyze. I found a new sense of purpose in nursing. I could see myself teaching future nursing students. I realized that I care about their success and that I wanted to see them succeed.

    I wanted to teach because I genuinely care about the students and their success. I found out soon enough the dirty truth about teaching in a traditional brick and mortar college. It hurts me say that even in an environment that is a part of highly intelligent individuals, bullying still takes place. I was told that I would not be hired by a local four year university to teach nursing because my degree was from an unknown online school. After all my hard work, I was destroyed on the inside when I discovered this devastating truth about most four year traditional universities.

    The hopes of this letter is to educate the nursing profession about the sad reality of bullying in a center for education. The stigma of an online degree remains, even though the program I graduated from was recognized by the White House for what is right in higher education.

    This innovative program allowed me to utilize my work experience. Furthermore, I was able to obtain this accredited degree with much flexibility that was customized to me. I fully believe that this program was the perfect one for me.

    It is unfortunate that because some institutions do not consider my degree valuable. I will have a higher chance of failure at obtaining a successful career at these types of institutions. Are we not greater than that?

    This reminds of a time when grade school children fight over whose lunch is better, or whose clothes are the best. Even though I fought nail and tooth to rise above my circumstances, I was shot down by those who think their degree is better than mine. My hopes is that my degree will lead me to make a significant difference in the lives of future nursing students no matter where I may land.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
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  3. by   brandy1017
    I don't think all schools will turn you down. You just have to be persistent and not give up. Sure there may be a stigma with certain online schools esp for profit because the for profit industry itself has a black eye with some of their recruitment tactics even lies in order to sell the school to students and make profit off the student loans. That doesn't mean your program was bad, but for profit's are seen in a bad light for legitimate reasons. I've read exposes where they outright lie to students and even have told people with criminal records they could get a job in law enforcement and that is not the case! They tend to be very aggressive in sales tactics and whistle blowers have said they were trained to hit their tender points, what bothered them what they felt weak about and less then in order to persuade them to go to school and it would somehow solve their problems.

    Universities also see online programs as competitors which they are and they like to have the monopoly on higher education. But if you live in an urban area you may have as many as a dozen colleges and universities to apply to. We had a coworker that got her MSN in education thru Phoenix University and was promoted to educator by her Director. She was very knowledgeable and a great teacher,but she lost her job when her director either was let go or resigned over politics. She was swept out on a technicality and replaced with a much younger "barbie doll" who looked like a TV star on Parenthood! She quickly was promoted to management and has since moved on to who knows where. The laid off educator did have problems getting a job it took her over six months, but I think part of it was age discrimination she was in her 50's, appearance as she was morbidly obese and also had a lot of serious health problems. Eventually she did turn things around and was hired at the state university and was a great teacher that her students loved.

    So she did enjoy her new job and even came back to the hospital for clinicals and we talked. The problem with teaching jobs is most are non tenure and you aren't even paid a minimum wage, you are paid by the class. So you end up juggling multiple teaching assignments to try to pay the bills. Luckily for her she had been good with her money and had paid off her house already. Also there was a teachers union, so at least she received health insurance. Many non tenured adjuncts do not even get health insurance or are on medicaid and many are so poor they qualify for food stamps. The few tenured professors are in a secure job, but universities now use adjuncts up to 85% of the staff as it is very profitable for them and I don't see this changing. This is a universal problem in college teaching. I remember the science professor that went on a rampage and killed several colleagues in AL a few years back when she was denied tenure and she had a Harvard degree. It doesn't matter where you got the degree from it is more a changing structure of the job market itself.

    Given this reality, many nursing instructors keep their hospital jobs to pay the bills, have benefits and stay in the loop. Another thought would be if you could get an educator job at a hospital esp one that has a new RN residency program. That might be just the ticket given your enthusiasm for students and teaching! You just have to start using your network of fellow staff to either find such a job or even propose such a job to a hospital that doesn't have a residency program. Linked in is commonly used to find a job and network. I wish you good luck and success!
    Last edit by brandy1017 on Feb 2, '15
  4. by   brandy1017
    If things don't work out as an educator you could also consider going back to school and getting your FNP. That could lead you in another direction. I read laid off educators during hospital downsizing did just that. An FNP is a good job, but competitive depending where you live and may require relocating. Regardless on which path you choose, sometimes it takes thinking outside of the box to secure a job. Such as sending out persuasive letter to the hiring manager to give you a job or even create a job for you. I know a lot of the nurses that became FNP's by me were hired by fellow Dr's that knew them and there work. Not all job openings are advertised these days. It is about your network and who you know to open doors.
  5. by   canwil2082
    My opportunities are limitless. I have a plan A, B, and C. It is just an unfortunate situation for some who have worked hard only to be told your still not good enough. Thankfully my ADN program hired me as an adjunct clinical instructor. This position only confirms my passion for nursing and education. Once again, I understand that not all traditional institutions may have this type of narrow thinking.
  6. by   elkpark
    "The hopes of this letter is to educate the nursing profession about the sad reality of bullying in a center for education."

    IMO, it's not "bullying" for a school to have a particular standard about what it finds acceptable credentials and qualifications for faculty members. It is the right of the school (or any other employer) to set whatever standards it considers necessary for employment, as long as it treats everyone equally and isn't violating state or federal employment law.
  7. by   canwil2082
    Everyone has an opinion and I respect yours. The age old phrase "don't judge a book by it's cover" seems to not be that important when it comes to these "acceptable credentials and qualifications". How can an institution say just because you have an accredited degree from a online institution, we do not want you. In addition, bullying has several definitions according to the Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center: National Bullying Prevention Center - Bullying Info and Facts

    A couple of these:
    • There is also a real or perceived “imbalance of power,” which is described as when the student [person] with the bullying behavior has more “power,” either physically, socially, or emotionally, such as a higher social status, or is physically larger or emotionally intimidating.
    • Students [People] often describe bullying as when “someone makes you feel less about who you are as a person."

    Once again, I understand that not all institutions are this way. There are teachers that all they do is read from the PowerPoint in class and they are considered acceptable because their degree is from a traditional brick and mortar university. My passion is strictly for the students and helping them facilitate the learning process so that they may have the greatest chance of success. I may not know everything there is about nursing, but I want to change how students learn in and out of the classroom.

    Furthermore, I accepted the position at the community college as an adjunct clinical instructor and was told by a faculty member of the four year university, "community colleges do not care what kind of degree you have." Does this mean that community colleges only have sub-par educational standards?
  8. by   Emergent
    I think it's a stretch to say not being hired is bullying. It was your responsibility in the first place to find out the requirements of the job you were seeking. The fact that they demand a traditional degree may seem unfair, but in order to bully you they need to actually hire you and then treat you badly.

    Just because you have a "passion strictly for students" doesn't mean you are bullied if you aren't hired to teach. I see no logic in your conclusion. You should have investigated more thoroughly before obtaining your degree.
  9. by   canwil2082
    I take full responsibility for my actions. I am now seeking a terminal degree from a traditional brick and mortar university in my state. I hope that other people see this and do not make the same mistake that I did. My degree is great for other employers but it is not for teaching at a traditional university.
  10. by   JustBeachyNurse
    You wouldn't get hired by the BSN programs in my state mostly because you are not doctoral prepared, MSN in nurse education is sufficient for ASN programs but not for BSN or graduate nursing programs. It's not bullying it's BoN and DHE requirements. My sister is a BSN professor now. She knew where she wanted to go in her career and ensured she had the correct educational credentials.
    If you don't meet the employer's minimal requirements I fail to see how that is bullying.
  11. by   roser13
    I really dislike the title of this thread. This is casting a large shadow over an entire industry (online education) from one person's experience. One experience does not a "truth" make.

    Oh well, I guess that's the point of online forums. Everyone gives their own experience.
    Last edit by roser13 on Feb 3, '15
  12. by   xoemmylouox
    I think these posts are important. Learning from life experience is important. For some this might have them consider other options when they are pursuing their higher education. We can do all of the research in the world, feel confident in our choice, and yet find out it still isn't good enough. I hope that things do work out for the OP. Life can seem so unfair sometimes. I don't think that this qualifies as bullying, but I do think they are shutting the OP out to discourage the online school route. It is their loss.
  13. by   Farawyn
    After my brick and mortar education(s) I am now doing an online SUNY RN-BSN bridge program. I chose this program not only because it is SUNY, but also because it has clinicals. I don't ever want to be questioned on my route to a BSN. I don't think anyone should be, as long as the program is accredited.
  14. by   Meriwhen
    I agree that online schools still have a stigma attached to them. In my area, people both in and out of healthcare hold University of Phoenix in low esteem. Now I've never attended a UoP class so I couldn't tell you if that opinion is truly merited...but it's what people think.

    However, it's not bullying if they don't hire you because you completed an online program. As others have pointed out, employers are within their rights to set the educational requirements for the position, and they may feel that for whatever reason, the program you completed doesn't qualify. It may be unfair if they turn you down, but it's not bullying in the least. Nor is it discrimination, as where you attended school is not a protected class (no pun intended).

    IMO--and I want to stress that this next part is meant in general and not directed at the OP--the term "bullying" is overused: people are quick to apply it anytime things don't go their way. Not hired? I'm being bullied. Received warranted negative feedback? I'm being bullied. They don't agree with me? I'm being bullied. And so on.