Registered nurses are in high demand, and the United States expects a 20 percent shortage by 2015, according to the Ohio Center for Nursing. With the proper online training, you can become a registered nurse in less than 18 months.
Find an online program. The National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission is responsible for accrediting and approving RN programs in the United States. Visit its website to find a program in your area.
Choose an 18-month program. Not all programs make it possible to earn a degree in nursing in 18 months or less. Many associate degrees that normally take two years to complete can done in less than 18 months if a school conducts classes during the summer semester. Students with a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing can find a diploma program that teaches them the skills needed to become a nurse. These programs are accelerated. The final option for earning a degree in less than 18 months is available to licensed practical nurses who desire to become RNs. Colleges offer bridge programs for them, and they can be completed in 12 to 18 months.
Complete prerequisite courses in advance. Each RN program sets its own prerequisite courses, although they are similar. They include classes such as human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, English, speech and computers. To earn an RN degree in 18 months online, you must have completed these courses first.
Learn nursing skills and knowledge online. Students are responsible for reading and studying the information and essentially teaching themselves nursing skills and techniques. The instructor is available by email, online chat or phone to answer questions and clarify lessons.
Finish with clinicals. Near the end of an online RN program, students must complete clinicals. These are done in medical centers so students can work with real patients. Clinicals might be held at a specific location, or an instructor might supervise a student on-site at an arranged location.