Florida registered nurses will soon be able to further their careers through UF — from their homes.
Starting Spring 2016, registered nurses with an associate degree can begin UF Online classes to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Tracy Wright, spokeswoman for UF’s College of Nursing, said they chose to offer the bachelor’s degree through UF Online so registered nurses with busy lives can take classes in a flexible and affordable way.
"They’re working in the field every day," she said. "This is just a way for them to prepare for that next step in their nursing career."
While people with associate and bachelor’s degrees are eligible to become registered nurses, those with bachelor’s degrees tend to acquire more leadership positions, Wright said.
The addition of the UF Online bachelor’s in nursing program also comes as a reaction to the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendation to increase the proportion of nurses with bachelor’s degrees, Wright said.
UF nursing junior Taylor Claudio said she’s skeptical of the program’s ability to teach about human interactions.
"You actually have to interview patients and learn how to do things like make a bed with somebody still sleeping in it, and I just don’t think you can learn that from a book," the 20-year-old said.
Claudio said most people pursuing the bachelor’s degree aspire to leadership positions, and an online program may not be able to teach the people skills required of them. Wright said that while there is no in-person training, these students would already have hands-on experience as registered nurses.
"We recognize that so many of these nurses will be working full-time, will be balancing and juggling a professional career with everything else in their life," she said.
Tuition for the program will be $129.18 per credit hour, including fees, for Florida residents and $552.62 per credit hour for nonresidents, according to the UF Online website. UF students who are taking classes on campus pay about $210 per credit hour if they are Florida residents. Out-of-state undergraduates pay about $953 per credit hour.
Wright said the College of Nursing had been planning to add this five-semester program to UF Online for about a year.
Lauren Harmer, a UF nursing junior, said although she doesn’t think the experience will be the same as coming to UF, online students should still be able to succeed.
"It really depends on how much effort and work that person puts in and how interested they are in expanding their knowledge base," the 19-year-old said.
Editor's Note: This version of the story has been updated to reflect a correction. Only Florida registered nurses are able to register for the UF Online program. We originally reported otherwise.