Nurse Practitioner School: Online VS Brick and Mortar

Online schools get a bad rap, especially regarding healthcare. On one hand, I understand the criticism and on the other, I disagree.

When I refer to online schools, I mean schools that have no physical building for students to attend.

The biggest critique of online schools is the acceptance rate. Many online schools are willing to accept incredibly low GPAs (2.5), and don’t require admissions essays or references of their applicants. Most brick and mortar schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0, an admissions essay, and 3 references with one being in the role in which you’re applying.  

The argument can be made that since the admissions requirements are so lax for online schools, the education provided would be sub-par, thus producing incompetent nurse practitioners.

Some argue that jobs won’t hire online students because of this, but I’ve never known this to be true. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard the complete opposite.

 In addition to the lack of any real admissions requirements, accreditation of these schools come into question as well.

To sit for boards, you must graduate from a CCNE accredited school.  CCNE accreditation is becoming easier to achieve due to changing requirements. Also, schools can begin enrolling students without CCNE accreditation, and achieve accreditation later down the line and the students who graduated before accreditation will be able to sit for boards.

This does not sit well with a lot of NPs and MDs who attended schools with a rigorous admissions process. Another accusation of online schools is being a “degree mill”.

Because online schools can accept much larger classes than a brick and mortar, the likelihood of students being able to have one on one time with their professors when needed is rare.

The required clinical hours of some online schools are quite questionable when compared to those of some brick and mortars. There is a consensus that you should have at least 800 clinical hours under your belt before sitting for boards.

Upon doing my research, I’ve seen some online schools require around 500 or so precepted clinical hours. A common characteristic of online schools is the requirement of students to find their own preceptors.

This can cause a dilemma for students, as their graduation can be delayed if they are not able to find a preceptor in a timely manner. Also, most preceptors charge the student, so that is an additional fee that students have to pay in order to graduate.

So, what does this mean for you as a prospective student? Well, the choice is yours. Personally, I believe that you can attend any school and be the best at that school. No matter what school you choose, it is the responsibility of the student to take charge of their education to become a successful nurse practitioner.

If attending a brick and mortar school is something you’re not willing to waver on, you may be in luck. Many brick and mortar schools offer online options to accommodate different lifestyles and service students in other states.

As far as education quality, I’ve heard horror stories of students from brick and mortar schools who were less prepared for their role as an NP compared to their peers who attended an online school.

Now-a-days, many schools are taking a holistic approach to their admissions process, so applicants with a GPA slightly lower than a 3.0 can get accepted.

Also, upon research I’ve learned that some online schools have the same, if not more required precepted clinical hours as those of online schools.

Additionally, in doing my research I learned that in some states, brick and mortar schools are requiring students to find their own preceptors as well.

Basically, what it boils down to is YOU! Do your research and choose the school that best fits your needs and lifestyle. Be it brick and mortar or online, focus on being the best student you can be and take charge of your education!

I hope this post helps you in choosing the school that’s right for you! Make sure you sign up for emails, so you never miss a post!