So disappointed with on-line program

  1. There were a number of reasons that my only option for APRN education was an on-line program. I'm the primary wage earner in our household of five and have to be able to keep working full time during school. Proximity to a brick and mortar program was also an issue. I've taken on-line classes before and I very much believe that you get out what you put in. So, it is my intention to make myself prepared to practice competently, and I've lined up some people that I really think will be excellent preceptors to help me in that respect. However, I have to say that the quality of the education is poor at best. The "advanced" pathophysiology and pharmacology courses largely consist of multiple choice exams and a lot of meaningless busywork assignments that I find to be on par with any undergraduate course I have taken over the years. I have found my own resources for lectures and information, but I think it's a sad state that this is the level of education I'm paying for from an institution, which I researched ahead of time and found was decently rated as an on-line program. I'm in the AGACNP program, and conceivably I could be hired as an acute care hospitalist. The same position that physicians with four years of medical school, residencies and advanced training, hold in our local hospitals. When I started, that was one end goal I was considering as a career path, but now I have concerns about my own readiness for that position when I finish. And it scares me for patients. I still have my clinical courses to complete, so maybe it's just too early to say, but the academic courses I have taken so far are a joke. And I have seen posts from many classmates that are struggling, which makes me wonder about the admission process, which I found a little lacking and probably should have been my first red flag.

    I'm not trying to insult all on-line programs and students, and again, I know that in this learning format I'm responsible for making sure that I will be a competent APRN. But the lack of lectures, or interactive experiences from faculty, make it feel like they're just taking my money. (For example, I handed in an 8 page paper and 8 hours later had a 100% with no feedback other than "excellent". Did the professor even read it?!) I think as a profession, we are doing a disservice to well trained APRNs by turning out potentially unprepared APRNs. I understand that everyone still has to get licensed, but if you know how to take standardized tests, I think many people can pass a multiple choice exam with less than comprehensive knowledge of any subject.

    I'm not sure how to wrap this up. Looking for other people's experience, thoughts, and maybe whether any practicing APRNs (if they check this board), found that the on-the-job training after school really filled in the gaps to lead to competent practice. I think we all know that coming out of nursing school we weren't really prepared to be nurses right away, so is this the same thing and I'm just being a little paranoid? Any thoughts appreciated.
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    About JBMmom, MSN, RN

    Joined: Jun '09; Posts: 618; Likes: 1,272

    111 Comments

  3. by   Jules A
    Quote from JBMmom
    I'm not sure how to wrap this up. Looking for other people's experience, thoughts, and maybe whether any practicing APRNs (if they check this board), found that the on-the-job training after school really filled in the gaps to lead to competent practice. I think we all know that coming out of nursing school we weren't really prepared to be nurses right away, so is this the same thing and I'm just being a little paranoid? Any thoughts appreciated.
    I don't think it is limited to online schools. I believe our education is light and was thankful I had years of experience in the field before I became a NP, at a BM well known state university btw. Unfortunately or fortunately hospitals are realizing many new grad NPs are not able to practice competently and are starting extensive orientation programs to get them up to speed. I find it embarrassing.

    It is also disappointing that over the past decade or so it has become acceptable for BSN and MSN programs to graduate relatively useless new RNs and expect the hospitals to train them. I'm not expecting anyone to be an expert right out of the gate but able to at least practice to your full scope without a 3 month orientation would be a reasonable expectation in my opinion. And ya know they will use all this "money invested in you" as an excuse to lower your wages.
  4. by   Rocknurse
    This is upsetting to read. I think the first mistake was choosing an online school, although I understand your reasoning. I too work full time and am the sole breadwinner for my family. I attend an excellent bricks and mortar school with a reputation for world class research and the education I'm getting there is stellar. We are in a small group with close oversight. For example, last night we had a class with 12 students, and throughout the whole class we had 3 professors sitting there and giving their input. All 3 professors have been intimately involved with the group and we can speak with them at any time, call them or book an appointment if we need. One of them is my preceptor in the ICU so I've gotten to know her and she makes sure I have what I need to succeed. They've taught us to read x-rays, CT Scans, put in central lines and chest tubes. This semester has focused heavily on disease management and we're already very comfortable with patho. Now we have to apply that and learn how to come up with differentials, apply decision tools, use research and use guidelines to treat disease. We have 3 whole semesters of learning how to manage acute disease. I feel very sure that coming out of this program I can be a functioning AGACNP out of the gate.

    I would consider switching schools if I were you. You are not getting an adequate learning experience which is doing you a disservice. I'm hoping now schools are being required to find preceptors for their students, that fly-by-night programs will go away.
  5. by   Oldmahubbard
    This is just sad, but no surprise at all. I went to a fairly well regarded private B and M school 20 years ago. It wasn't much better. Online didn't exist yet and I had to drive 2 hours each way to get to class. Most of the time, I could only take one course a semester. It took 6 years to get my degree. 6 years of a lot of irrelevant nonsense. Meanwhile I was doing extensive self preparation, working in the field, because I knew what was at stake.

    From a previous career, I knew many people with Bachelor's degrees in a foreign language who couldn't order a sandwich in that language.

    I didn't want that to be me as an NP.

    Fortunately I had some good mentors and a couple that were so bad, they were good. They taught me what not to do.

    Yep, the entire experience was damn depressing, but since then I have had a good career as an NP. Eventually fairly successful financially.

    The certification exam for Psych is a joke, which explains some of the things I see going on.

    I don't have any big time advice, other than possibly looking into other programs, and being willing to drive to class. Unfortunately it's no guarantee of quality.
  6. by   SURGICALNURSE2NPORMD
    I honestly think that they need to revamp the education. I feel many PA programs prepare the students better. Especially considering you truly do not have to have any true medical experience to get into PA school. Now As a professional nurse we have a lot of patient care experience and we should spend more time on advancing the clinical knowledge instead of writing a million papers and mastering APA style.
  7. by   SURGICALNURSE2NPORMD
    Stick with your program. Finish and also get as much additional training post grad as well. Depending on where you live they have fellowship programs as well.
  8. by   Oldmahubbard
    In my program, they didn't give a lick about the quality of any of the papers, only checked to see if it was done APA style.

    I just think that is very sad, all around.
  9. by   JBMmom
    Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts and experiences. I think that there are many APRNs out there that are able to practice competently despite, rather than because of, the quality of their educations. While it may not be ideal, I'm determined to get the most out of what I've got.
  10. by   Spadeforce
    NP programs must all be great if the outcomes are better that physicians right? lol
    med school is a just waste of time just as is residency and fellowship since one can get an equivalent education online (according to some)

    giant eye roll
  11. by   umbdude
    Quote from Spadeforce
    NP programs must all be great if the outcomes are better that physicians right? lol
    med school is a just waste of time just as is residency and fellowship since one can get an equivalent education online (according to some)

    giant eye roll
    ^^ I think this post is far more of a waste of time.

    P.S. Oh I forgot to add....lol
  12. by   Cococure
    Is there anyway you can change programs? I know it may seem drastic but it may an option. See if you can transfer before it's too late. I am in a hybrid program and I gotta stay it's a good in between. I too was disappointed with the fluff courses and wondered how nursing theory had changed since undergrad and why are we doing it again! But once I got to the meat and potato courses I was in for a real surprise...my program was a lot harder than I expected and I compare it to what other workers say about their program. Not all online programs are created equal and going to a good school is necessary for your future as an ACNP you will appreciate having a good foundation.
  13. by   Oldmahubbard
    Nursing theory adds nothing to our profession, takes up time that could be used productively, and should be completely eliminated at the BSN and MSN level.
  14. by   SopranoKris
    Quote from Oldmahubbard
    Nursing theory adds nothing to our profession, takes up time that could be used productively, and should be completely eliminated at the BSN and MSN level.
    I agree. For NPs, we could eliminate: Theory, Research, Healthcare Policy, and Informatics. Replace them with more clinical/didactic training. I'd much rather have more intensive courses that will make me a better clinician. I have no interest in the fluff courses, nor do I ever want to go into those fields down the road.

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