DISTANCE EDUCATION IN NURSING
AbstractThe nursing profession is challenged to meet evolving health care needs of populations, while maintaining the standards and integrity of the profession. Limited resources in health care and nursing education compelled the nursing profession to embrace distance education as a way of upgrading the qualifications of large numbers of nurses in a timely manner without disrupting service delivery. All distance education programmes in nursing are post-basic programmes and are presented at certificate, diploma and degree level. Accessibility to higher education for further studies and affordability are primary purposes of distance education programmes for nurses. An increased participation of local and international private higher education institutions in distance education, a diverse body of learners and the impact of technology on teaching, learning and assessment further contributed to a shift in delivery within contact and distance education institutions.The dynamic changes in society demand that qualified people return to higher education to keep abreast with innovation and change. Distance education provides opportunities to combine family and work responsibilities while engaging in continuous professional development. Despite the advantages, distance education in higher education is confronted with challenges that relate to student support, lack of computer literacy and inaccessibility of electronic media and the Internet in some areas. Scientific writing and reading skills, a reading ‘culture’ and study skills are often lacking in the students. Remedial teaching in this regard could be a problem, especially where students do not have easy access to communication media.Education is a major key to leadership development and the development of the nursing profession. The modern knowledge-driven society requires that people upgrade their knowledge and skills in order to remain competitive and competent in a fast-changing environment. Distance education is a suitable way of ensuring opportunities for all to engage in continuous professional development and lifelong learning
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