Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Comparative Descriptors of Applicants and Graduates of Online and Face-to-Face Master of Science in Nursing Programs

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

Comparative Descriptors of Applicants and Graduates of Online and Face-to-Face Master of Science in Nursing Programs

Article excerpt

Abstract

AIM Proper advisement of students about their programs of study requires knowledge of the applicants and confidence that the recommended curricula will lead to success via graduation and certification.

BACKGROUND Two important strategies to deliver master of science in nursing (MSN) curricula include online and face-to- face (F2F) formats.

METHOD A nonexperimental, descriptive study of archival data was used to examine and compare the characteristics of F2F and online MSN applicants, admitted students, and graduates as well as family nurse practitioner (FNP) certification pass rates at one eastern Tennessee college of nursing. Administration and FNP concentrations were studied.

RESULTS The average applicant grade point average (GPA) was higher for the F2F format but no difference in the average admission GPA was found between formats. The online students had more years of RN experience than the F2F students.

CONCLUSION No significant difference was found between graduating GPAs or FNP certification pass rates.

KEY WORDS

Online Distance Education - Face-To-Face Traditional Education - FNP Certification - Graduate Nursing Applicants - Graduate Nursing Program

The need for more registered nurses educat- ed at the baccalaureate and graduate levels is well documented (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 20Í0; Papes & Lo- pez, 2007; Pullen, Mueller, & Ashcraft, 2009; Waxman & Maxworthy, 20f0). Be- cause of greater emphasis on preventive care and technologic advances, as weßll as more Americans living with chronic illnesses, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2012) predicted that there will be a 26 percent growth rate in RN employment between 2010 and 2020. The passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is expected to produce an even greater demand for health care professionals and opportunities for nurses with advanced degrees in practice and leadership roles (American Nurses As- sociation, 2010).

The nurse workforce needs within the state of Tennessee are reflective of workforce needs across the country. A report released by the Tennessee Center for Nursing (TCN, 2005) highlighted the need for more RNs in the state and encouraged pre-licensure and graduate schools to increase enrollments and graduations. In 2008, the TCN re-examined progress toward reaching workforce goals. The expansion of existing programs and the development of new online or web-based master's programs resulted in an increase in initial licensure and graduate enrollments and graduations (TCN, 2008). However, al- though progress was made, the goals were not fully met.

While the original goal of many online nursing education programs was to reach potential students who were physically dis- tant from the university, enrollments have in- creased due to convenience and other factors (McVeigh, 2009). Gibson and Harris (2008) reported that students who preferred face- to-face (F2F) education also preferred more personal interactions between students and faculty and favored a more structured study program, while those who favored online ed- ucation possessed a more independent learn- ing style. Through their study on graduate student attrition. Perry, Boman, Care, Ed- wards, and Park (2008) identified that online education was not appropriate for all students due to preferred learning styles. Today, many more qualified individuals apply to nursing schools than there are spaces available (TCN, 2008). Students should be guided toward a program that will meet their individual needs and promote successful completion of a grad- uate degree.

The nursing research literature lacks re- ports about the characteristics of applicants to F2F and online graduate nursing pro- grams. In 2007, Mills conducted an effective- ness study comparing variables in an online and an F2F master's of science in nursing program at the same school of nursing, be- ginning with admitted students. …

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