Can You Really Get a Nursing Degree Online?


Can you really get a nursing degree online? The short answer is an emphatic yes! You can get a variety of nursing degrees online, from a Bachelor of Science in Nursing to a Doctor of Nursing Practice. 

Technology is changing and challenging what universities can do when it comes to higher education. Thanks to these advances, it is now entirely possible to attend nursing school online. At this point, you might be asking, “How?” 

The Ohio State University College of Nursing is a top nursing school, home to some of the best online degrees in the countryIn 2020, the online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing was ranked No. 1 by U.S. News and World ReportOhio State's graduate online nursing degrees also received top ratings in 2020, with the Master of Science in Nursing ranked No. 4 in the nation and No. 2 among public universities

Learn more about Ohio State's online program rankings


We sat down with Alice Teall, an Instructor of Clinical Practice in the  Master of Science in Nursing (Family Nurse Practitioner specialty), to learn more about what it's really like to attend nursing school online

She broke down our question into three parts:


How do instructors teach online students to practice nursing?

There are many misconceptions when it comes to online learning. One of those misconceptions is that online learning is an isolating experience. Teall counters that by developing an online community in her courses where her students can actively learn together. 

Students are separated into small groups at the start of the semester. Throughout the course, the groups collaborate together online, using CarmenZoom, to complete case studies and prepare for exams. 

Teall also demonstrates skills via webcam and encourages students to practice on a friend or family member, while she supervises. With the rise of telehealth, the ability to utilize technology as part of patient care is critical for nurses.


How do online nursing students get the clinical experiences that they need?

The College of Nursing’s placement office helps the students get connected to a clinic near them for placement. Each student needs to complete 675 hours with other providers to gain hands-on experience in patient care. 

While the majority of instruction in online nursing degrees can be completed online, some (but not all) programs require a clinical component. The clinical component is a requirement for nurses to gain experience in person and in the field. Programs that do not require clinical components build off students’ existing clinical knowledge and work experience. 


How do instructors evaluate students' nursing skills?

Teall explains that online nursing students are evaluated with Objective Structured Clinical Exams (OSCE), just like students in on-campus nursing programs. Beginning OSCEs will usually involve having a friend or family member simulate the condition. Teall and other nursing faculty watch and record using CarmenZoom, so the student can review themselves after the exam. As the online program progresses, students are evaluated using a telehealth station provided by Optimized Care Network.

The telehealth station allows the examination to happen in real time. A ‘patient’ presents in front of the station in the on-campus lab, while the student virtually assesses and speaks with the patient from home. There is even a nurse at the telehealth visit that the student can guide. Teall logs in to a separate remote station where she can watch and record the student evaluation. In this video below, the patient is pregnant, and the student is performing a prenatal examination. 


“In my 8 years as a clinical instructor in the online Master of Science in Nursing program, I have been amazed at all the things technology has allowed us to do in an online classroom, Teall said.

Ready to learn more? Explore online nursing degree programs at Ohio State.

Last modified: 
September 10, 2020