How to Serve Nontraditional Nursing Students Well

September 23, 2014 Kristen Hicks

With the worldwide nursing shortage, nursing schools must provide effective educational options to many nontraditional students. Some students will already be working as nurses, while others will be pursuing a career change. In addition, a significant number of prospective nursing students may live in rural areas where there’s no nursing school nearby.

A Partial Solution: Distance Education

When distance learning is an option, students who are unable to make it to a college campus on a regular basis can still pursue nursing as a career. Of course, experienced faculty members will need to work with the students in online courses, but those faculty members can take advantage of the same flexibility in scheduling and geographic location that students benefit from, which can make finding the right instructors a little easier.

Serving Distance Students Well

Many students interested in distance-education programs are already driven enough to develop plans and schedules that work for them. For distance-nursing programs, it’s important to provide resources that simplify the process.

The Human Connection

Students need to connect with their professors. Having easy access to faculty members through email, video chats, and other platforms of communication plays a big role in the value of an online course.

It doesn’t stop with professors, though. Everyone in academia knows that students can often learn as much from each other as from an instructor. Social media groups and educational forums that help students connect with each other are essential as well.

Useful Feedback

Students benefit from clear and specific feedback about their progress as they go. The right technology for assessment can automate and simplify the process for faculty, and it should include the following:

• An intuitive platform for providing resources and assignments.
• An easy way for students to submit assignments and ask questions.
• Tech tools that make communication easy from a distance.
• An assessment tool that makes grading and providing feedback a more seamless process.

With the right structure and technology in place, nursing schools can serve nontraditional students well.


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