Nursing is one of the most rewarding and demanding professions in the healthcare field. As a profession, nursing is highly respected thanks to the enormous role nurses play in the delivery of healthcare. Nurses can work in a wide array of locations, including hospitals, community centers, businesses, and healthcare facilities. 

Nurses can work with people from many different walks of life and with everyone from children to the elderly. They have the chance to gain skills in a multitude of medical disciplines including geriatrics, oncology, neurology, pediatrics, gynecology, and many more. 

Becoming a nurse requires studying and completing a nursing qualification such as a diploma or degree. Most curriculums will involve some practical learning on an actual campus, but a large portion of these courses can be completed online. However, registered nurses who already have some experience could study a postgraduate course fully online. 

One of the things that is important to understand when taking a course in nursing, particularly an online course, is the curriculum. 

Course curriculum

A course curriculum is the term used for a series of courses that are taken in an academic program by students. Faculty design the curriculum and may occasionally revise it following input from students. How are these curricula developed, and how can you find out about the types of courses and accreditations that are available?

Curriculum overview

The series of classes that are involved in a course curriculum are intended to help students reach the formal education level to which they are aspiring. The course curriculum needs to form a learning environment that will give assistance to students trying to attain a particular outcome. 

What are core courses?

A core course is the name given to introductory courses in a degree or major program. Core courses are also part of the general education requirement at most universities and are defined to meet the needs of students in majors or specialist areas. 

Students who are taking the core curriculum learn foundational skills that will help them in the more specialized and advanced courses they may take on later in the program. For example, the Diploma in Nursing is an entry-level nursing course that will provide a successful student with an RN title. From this point, a nurse could go on to study more advanced courses in their field, such as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a Master’s of Science in Nursing. 

These courses can usually be completed completely online and may be taken full-time or part-time depending on what is most convenient for the student. Those who have completed a Master’s degree in Nursing can expect to be eligible for careers such as a nurse educator, nurse anesthetist, or nurse manager. 

Specialty courses are offered by some institutions in advanced nursing practice, which allows for the development of nursing skills with graduate diploma courses such as Clinical Nursing, Mental Health, and Perioperative Nursing. Students who take specialty nursing courses will find an even greater number of high-salary career opportunities opening up to them. 

Designing a curriculum

Because a curriculum is so important to the learning experience of a student, college faculty will review it and make revisions if required. A curriculum needs curricular goals and a clear purpose. The purpose defines what students should have learned after the completion of the course, and the program’s goals will determine the classes that are offered, from type and content to the order in which they are presented. 

Accredited course curriculum

Students who are earning a degree need to make sure that the courses they are taking are properly accredited by a legitimate accrediting agency. The accreditation of a program or institution means that students will be receiving an education that has met the quality standards that the group providing the accreditation has set. 

In addition to demonstrating that a university or college has met all the guidelines to show they are providing quality education, accreditation also means that the degree the student has obtained has real value. If a program or college does not have accreditation, it will likely not be recognized by most employers. 

Why are online nursing courses different?

Online courses differ from many other types of learning models in a variety of ways. An online nursing course may be done completely off-campus, with the content and delivery of the course designed to be even more informative and engaging. 

In-person nursing courses can be challenging as they limit the exposure and learning of students, and the courses follow a strict outline that provides no flexibility to allow for learning outside of the set curriculum. It would also not be possible to continue to work while taking such a course. 

Benefits of online learning courses

There are several benefits to studying nursing online, including being able to continue working and having time for family and friends. Studying can even continue if you have to go on a trip for business or personal reasons. 

The course can also be completed at the student’s own pace, allowing them to take more time to learn the subject or course to their own satisfaction before having to move on to the next one. 

If a student misses a class or simply wishes to review a previous class again, they will be able to do so because tutorials and other resources are available online at all times. 

There is also no need for a specialist setup to learn online, as it can be done just with an ordinary tablet, laptop, or mobile phone. 

International students who wish to study from overseas can also enroll in an online course without having to relocate for long periods. 

Online courses are ideal for those who want to find a less traditional method of studying, and they also allow students to exchange ideas with their peers in several ways using modern methods for collaboration. 

Should you study for an RN or BSN?

Nurses need to take specialized paths to join the particular field of nursing they wish to pursue, so it is important to understand the differences and to take the type of course that is most suited to you. 

RN and BSN are different education levels that will dictate the nursing path a student will be able to take.

An RN is a Registered Nurse who is able to treat patients and provide emotional and educational support for patients and their families. Specific duties of registered nurses will vary depending on their particular specialty. From day to day, those duties may involve everything from administering medication, educating family members, and evaluating and monitoring patients to maintaining medical records for healthcare providers. 

Most registered nurses work in specific care fields such as geriatrics, oncology, neonatology, and pediatrics. There will always be nurses who work with patients within every type of medicine. There are a variety of workplaces in which registered nurses may find employment besides just doctor’s offices and hospitals, such as clinics, outpatient centers, rehabilitation clinics, and in the home. 

A Bachelor’s degree of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the name given to a four-year program for students wanting to become registered nurses or registered nurses who have an associate degree in nursing and want to further their education in the field of nursing.

BSN programs generally take around four years to fully complete, and this is a standard qualification to gain an entry-level position in the nursing profession. Those with a Bachelor’s degree of Science in Nursing have a greater likelihood of finding gainful employment in a number of different nursing occupations than those who only possess an associate degree, particularly for those working in hospitals. 

A nurse who has a BSN degree may choose to advance their education with a doctorate or master’s degree for the purpose of becoming a nurse practitioner or nurse educator. 

Education requirements for RN and BSN programs

To become a registered nurse, a student will have to gain an associate degree and have employment in the field of medicine, normally in a particular specialty. An RN will also have successfully passed the state board exam and have completed all licensing requirements of the state in which they have found employment. 

To receive a BSN, a student needs to have either completed an associate degree in nursing or have made a commitment to the four-year program in order to graduate with this degree from their undergraduate curriculum. 


DNP-FNP stands for Doctor of Nursing Practice with a Family Nurse Practitioner concentration. Going from a BSN to DNP-FNP program online will require a massive commitment from students. 

DNP and FNP are normally different programs, but today it is possible to take a curriculum that allows prepared nurses to gain a doctoral degree with a concentration in FNP within a comprehensive and compact program that takes just three years. The program is rigorous but rewarding and ensures that graduates will be ready for inter-professional leadership and autonomous family practice at the highest level.

DNP and FNP are generally two different APRN roles known as the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Family Nurse Practitioner. 

Family Nurse Practitioner

An FNP is an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) who offers healthcare services with a focus on family to patients ranging from children to the elderly. 

FNPs are responsible for maintaining patient records, performing physical examinations, prescribing medications, treating chronic and acute illnesses, ordering diagnostic tests, and developing treatment plans. 

Despite the generally broad scope of practice of FNPs, it is possible for them to specialize in particular fields, including obesity management or diabetes. 

A number of FNPs can be found working in private practices or community clinics and have a unique chance to create long-term relationships with patients and their families, learning intimate details about them and observing their growth over a long period of time. 

Doctor of Nursing Practice

A DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) is a terminal degree in the nursing field, with no degree being higher. The DNP is ideal for nurses who desire a role other than a doctoral program based on research. 

Nurses are prepared to work in the field by the DNP program. Nurses who have a DNP degree will often end up in administrative or similar leadership roles in healthcare, with other nurses working in other capacities as APRNs. 

There is some overlap between DNP and FNP, with the obvious main similarity being that both need advanced education, with a master’s degree, at a minimum, required for the latter and the former being a doctoral-level degree. 

There is also a certain degree of autonomy involved in both of these roles. In many cases, the FNP position will allow nurses to be able to work without being supervised, while the DNP degree offers a wide array of opportunities for nurses to also work in supervisory positions. 

Education and training are the areas where many of the differences lie between a DNP and FNP. FNPs specifically focus on caring for patients as well as their families, but DNPs are more concerned with ensuring that nurses have been fully prepared to work in a wide variety of different roles. In many cases, this will be nurses who are looking to gain employment in the business and management side of nursing. 

Becoming an FNP

The first step to becoming an FNP is to become a registered nurse via either a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing or an associate degree in nursing, both of which can be studied online. Potential FNPs will also need to have gained skills in the field, with advanced practice nurses needing to have an excellent understanding of nursing if they are to achieve a leadership role. 

After a nurse has built up their skills, the next step is to earn an MSN or DNP. The former takes about two years to fully complete, and there are also bridge programs available that can assist students in getting a DNP degree if they already have a Bachelor’s degree. 

Following graduation, the next step is to achieve certification. FNPs can receive certification from either the American Association of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center. 

The next step will be to put in an application to become a state-certified FNP. This can be done by going to the nursing licensure page in your particular state to determine the requirements. 

A Family Nurse Practitioner certification will have to be renewed every five years, and in some states, continuing education may also be required. 

Becoming a DNP

There are a number of ways of earning a DNP, with the most common being the MSN route. However, there are bridge programs that allow for a doctorate to be gained in an expedited manner. 

MSN to DNP is a very common path and a great option for those who are already an advanced practice nurse and may not be able to commit to full-time studies as it can also be achieved online. The program takes up to two years full-time or four years part-time. 

The MSN program is focused more on specialized coursework, with MSN clinical hours able to be applied to the requirement for clinical hours. 

The BSN to DNP bridge program combines the MSN and DNP curriculums and can be studied for up to three years full-time or six years part-time and will also include an exit option for those who want the MSN but decide against gaining their DNP.

Direct-entry DNP is a degree program for students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and can usually only be taken full time, which can last up to six years. Students need to achieve the status of Registered Nurse prior to getting graduate work. 

The least common way to become a DNP is the RN to DNP bridge course, which allows a DNP to be pursued by someone who does not have a BSN. 

This course can last as long as six years full-time, but it will take longer than six years if studied on a part-time basis.

Students in these programs are often required to have completed undergraduate prerequisite courses prior to taking on graduate courses. 

FNPs and DNPs both have the qualifications that are needed to fill gaps that are left open by those who have reached the age of retirement.

It is important to have learned all of the details of these courses to understand which one is the most suitable for you to take to gain the skills you will require in your particular field and reach your career goals.