You have a bachelor’s diploma lying around your house, and you might have a job related to what you studied in school. The only problem now is that you want to switch careers and become a registered nurse, but you don’t want to go through years and years of formal schooling.
This is a common phenomenon. Because of it, tens of thousands of people go into accelerated nursing programs each year, aspiring to become nurses without going back to school. These programs are perfect for people who already have bachelor’s degrees in other fields but want to make seamless transitions into nursing.
Also known as direct-nursing programs or second degrees, accelerated nursing programs allow you to get the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) after completing a full-time study period that runs from about 11 to 18 months. This is much better than having to spend years in nursing school for the same degree.
Due to the possible workload, many advise that students in accelerated nursing programs not try to keep a full time job while they are enrolled in an accelerated nursing programs. Your studies will probably require your full attention.
However, some accelerated nursing programs also come with part-time structures. With these programs, it will be possible to keep working while attending your studies on the weekends and every weekday evening.
Of course, the caveat to the latter arrangement is that you will need a few more months to complete the program. This guide will go through some characteristics of the accelerated nursing programs, including their prerequisites, teaching schedules, and career prospects.
What Is An Accelerated Nursing Program?
The accelerated nursing program offers a quick way to get your bachelor’s degree in nursing. Unlike a practical nursing diploma or an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), the accelerated nursing program brings you a bachelor’s degree in nursing. When you pass through the program and sit your NCLEX exam, you can become a registered nurse (RN) straight away.
There are RN to BSN programs available for licensed nurses looking to get back to school. The accelerated nursing program is a pre-licensure initiative. This means that it focuses on students who don’t have the BSN status yet.
Usually, the accelerated nursing program will require that you take more credits than a traditional nursing program. It goes year-round, and it might require a higher test score for entrance.
All in all, it is essential to understand that the accelerated nursing program is for serious students who want to get their degrees in an expedited manner.
The Ideal Candidate For An Accelerated Nursing Program
Generally, anyone can enroll in an accelerated nursing program. As stated earlier, the programs are open to people who have bachelor’s degrees but would like to switch to nursing.
At the same time, there are some traits that you will need to have.
You need to be focused and driven. You should be sure you want to be a nurse, and you should be ready to put in the time and necessary effort to get this done. You should understand that this is the right career for you and be willing to devote the next year or two of your life to getting the right certifications.
The program is also ideal for people who have jobs and degrees but are looking to switch careers. Perhaps you’re dissatisfied with the current profession you hold and would like to pursue something else out of a passion.
No matter what it is, there is a lot of self-discipline required in this program. The curriculum can be taxing, and you will need a great deal of motivation and organization to be successful. You should also be able to take direction and know-how to follow instructions.
If you fit any of these profiles and would like to become a registered nurse, then an accelerated nursing program is the first step for you to take.
Accelerated Nursing Program Prerequisites
While the accelerated bachelor’s degree program will usually last about 11 to 18 months, you might need to stay in school even longer if you have some prerequisites to complete. Some students take classes while they work, and this can be a pretty challenging thing to do.
All in all, here is a list of courses you will need to take as prerequisites.
- Organic Chemistry
- Nutrition microbiology
- Biology I
- Inorganic Chemistry
- Developmental Psychology
- Anatomy and Physiology I & II
It is recommended that you get a grade of A or B in these courses to be on the safe side.
There is a higher probability you will need to take an entrance exam for most schools before you get into their nursing programs. Since most schools will require entrance exams for their traditional nursing programs, accelerated applicants have to deal with the same prerequisite.
Generally, the entrance exam will test your knowledge of some of the subjects needed to enter nursing school. These subjects include English, Math, and Science. You can find several resources to help you study and sit for the exam.
Most schools also consider GPA for entrance into their accelerated nursing programs. Usually, the minimum GPA to get consideration will range between 3.0 and 3.5.
Coursework For Accelerated Nursing Programs
An accelerated nursing program‘s entire concept is to take the whole curriculum and compress it into a thorough coursework regimen. It also focuses on not repeating the required coursework that regularly-paced bachelor’s degree programs might need.
You won’t find any of the usual liberal arts courses in an accelerated nursing program. Instead, it focuses more on science-based offerings. These courses include:
At the same time, the program comes with several intensive clinical instruction classes in labs and healthcare settings like hospitals and other facilities. Between the classroom courses and the hands-on experiences, a graduate of an accelerated nursing program should feel reasonably confident about sitting and passing the NCLEX-RN exam and other required certifications to become a registered nurse.
Due to the accelerated nursing program’s intense nature, some students can easily see it as a full-time commitment and not apply for jobs while they pursue the degree.
That approach will essentially help you to focus on the program year-round, including the summer and spring semesters. It will help you to finish the course as quickly as possible and minimize any disruptions on your way.
For a sample of what you could get in an accelerated nursing program, you could find the following in your coursework:
- Semester 1: Pathophysiology, Nursing Laboratory Science, The Foundations of Clinical Nursing, Research in Nursing
- Semester 2: Introductory Clinicals, Mental Health, Nursing in Medicine and Surgery, Geriatric Health, Pharmacology
- Semester 3: Clinicals, Community Health, Family Health
- Semester 4: Leadership in Nursing, General Nursing Ethics, Advanced Clinical Courses.
Will You Take The Same Classes As The Traditional Bachelor’s Degree Students?
The answer to this will depend mainly on the program itself.
Some programs have built courses for accelerated students, especially allowing them to cover their content in a compressed amount of time. Other programs tend to integrate the accelerated students into the traditional semester, although the course load will be heavier and the semester structures will differ significantly.
The Benefits That An Accelerated Nursing Program Gets You
Accelerated nursing programs provide a lot of benefits for students. Quickly, some of these benefits include:
Greater Work Opportunities
It is possible for you to question why you would choose an accelerated nursing program over some other nursing option. After all, people holding associate’s degrees have the chance to be registered nurses as well.
However, the truth is that an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree are different. While the two options will make you an RN, the bachelor’s degree will give you more career options as you establish yourself as a nurse practitioner.
With a bachelor’s degree, you have more options to pursue leadership management positions than someone with an associate’s degree. You will also be qualified to hold more registered nurse jobs since many hospitals have strict standards for the types of nurses they hire and the qualifications they must have.
You should also consider that the bachelor’s degree curriculum will cover several advanced topics like emerging technologies in nursing, informatics, public health, and other detailed leadership and management courses.
Most states will require that you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing for community health positions (such as licensed school nurses, public health nurses, etc.). Also, most advanced nursing careers will require that you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Stay Ahead Of The Curve
Another significant benefit of having a bachelor’s degree in nursing is that it allows you to be ahead of the game with the nursing mandate.
For instance, while some areas have set standards for facilities taking nurses with bachelor’s degree certifications, the Institute of Medicine has issued a requirement to ensure that about 80% of nurses get a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Several other institutes recommend that you get your bachelor’s degree within a few years of practice.
Whatever it is, there is a significant possibility that stricter education standards will be introduced into the nursing space in the future. By getting your bachelor’s degree now, you can stand out from the crowd and move more quickly.
Online Options For Accelerated Nursing Programs
Online courses have also become rather popular in today’s world. Thanks to this surge in popularity, several nursing schools have begun to offer these courses for their certifications. This way, they can allow students to take advantage of more flexible learning options and provide innovative learning.
Online learning options are also great since many students earning an accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Science will have other obligations. With an online learning module, you don’t have to spend time commuting to campus daily. This convenience will go a long way in helping you to achieve that work-life balance that you need.
Note that the online accredited nursing programs use the hybrid model. You can have theory classes online, but you will still need to complete the lab work and other clinical experiences in person. These clinical exercises are essential to your success in the program, and you will need to make yourself available for them.
Most students can complete their clinical exercises at community healthcare centers. If you are working on your program at a school that isn’t close to you, this can significantly benefit you.
Also, keep in mind that most accelerated nursing programs that are run online will go beyond the usual lecture notes and reading. In some schools, lab work is replaced with simulations of possible situations you could encounter when working as a nurse.
Another thing you should note about these online classes is that the flexibility they provide will most likely only extend to their study times alone. Since you won’t need to come to a classroom every day, you will be able to get a job and still focus on your schoolwork if you have the fortitude to do so.
However, those programs remain highly structured. You will need to keep up with the strict due dates and ensure that you move with the other students at the same pace.
All in all, there is the allure of these online classes. They are more convenient, they provide a means for you to focus on other vital things in your life, and they can be the ideal choice for anyone with commitments.
As long as you’re ready to handle the work, feel free to see which school offers an online learning schedule that you’re comfortable with.
Career Outlooks: What Jobs Can You Get With An Accelerated Nursing Program?
Registered nurses seem to be in short supply, even in the United States. Even worse, there is a possibility that this shortage becomes much worse over time.
If you see yourself finding some purpose as a registered nurse, there is hardly a better time to get started on the process. Here are some interesting job statistics that might convince you to give an accelerated nursing program a try:
- Job Outlooks: data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that registered nurses’ job outlook should continue to grow by about 15% when 2026 comes around. That is quite impressive, especially when you consider the other occupations around the world.
- Salary Expectations: as is the case with most professions, you will find that your salary as a registered nurse will vary based on where you are and your state’s market conditions.
For instance, registered nurses in Indiana earn an annual salary of around $64,860, while those in Kentucky make about $63,100 annually. If you move to Ohio, you can find salary averages to be about $66,820.
- Job Satisfaction: in truth, nursing can be a taxing job, especially if you find yourself in the middle of a health crisis. However, data has shown that 83%of nurses are satisfied with their career choices.
Making An Education Choice: MSN Vs. Accelerated BSN
You have two main options when you want to make the switch to nursing. You can choose either an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Accelerated BSN) or go for a direct-entry Masters’ of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.
Generally, choosing between the two will depend on your long-term objectives. If you would like to move into a managerial, administrative, or research-based nursing role, then the MSN choice might be better for you.
At the same time, you could use the MSN as a stepping stone to achieving even higher educational qualifications in the future or seek an advanced specialty degree in nursing.
Alternatively, the accelerated BSN works mostly for people looking to practice as nurses and get hands-on experience.
You should also consider the following when making your decision for the right degree:
MSN Takes Longer
As stated earlier, the accelerated BSN will take anywhere between 11 to 18 months. However, MSN will take much longer. An MSN program will require close to 80 credit requirements, so you might end up spending more than two years on the course.
Remember that a longer course period also means that MSN will cost more.
Accelerated BSN programs usually vary in cost between $40,000 and $80,000 per year.
The MSN costs more than the accelerated BSN program. However, note that you could choose the MSN from the beginning if you want to use your degree for a managerial position or get an advanced nursing degree after your BSN. In the long-run, that will help you to save some money.
BSN Provides Greater Educational Flexibility
You can move directly from an accelerated BSN program to a doctorate or some other advanced specialty course.
BSN Is More Limited In Career Opportunities
In truth, BSN limits you to only working in the direct patient care space. This includes jobs like clinic healthcare professionals and bedside hospital nursing.
With MSN, you are more flexible in choosing what you want to do. The latter provides opportunities in leadership and management, as well as research and other educational fields.
In general, you can consider MSN if you have more time to work on the degree or are looking to achieve quicker career mobility into some advanced nursing profession. However, if you see yourself doing more hands-on hospital work, please feel free to choose the accelerated BSN program.
Success Tips While Enrolling In Accelerated Nursing Programs
Build A Reliable Support System
Accelerated nursing programs can be quite taxing, so it is always recommended that you get as much support as you can get from your friends and family. Be proactive in seeking help, and accept as much help as people are willing to give.
Stay Focused On The Goal
It will also help you to focus on your goals to keep your motivation up. Keep considering your reason for enrolling in the program and what you would like to achieve when you graduate. Also, if you can break your objective into small portions, it will help you concentrate.
Don’t Neglect Yourself
Your health is the most important thing. Take the time to keep your body healthy and maintain the energy you need to focus on your work.
If you need to take a break:
- Do take a break
- Go for a walk or call a friend to have fun and recharge your batteries.
- Eat well and get enough sleep to maintain your health.
Build Relationships With Other Students
You can also benefit significantly from the people you meet on accelerated nursing programs. Many of them can relate to your situation since they’re also running through the program. If you’re unsure of anything or you need to talk about something related to the course, speak to your course mates and see how much help they can be for you.
Get Somewhere Special To Study
Accelerated nursing programs will force you to study and learn at a quick rate. It would be helpful if you got somewhere designated and quiet to help you study.
Generally, a place with no noise and distraction is the best place to study. It could be your house, a local library, or anywhere else. As long as you feel comfortable and at ease, go for it.
Join A Study Group
You will have a lot of individual study time with accelerated nursing programs. However, it also helps if you join others to learn.
Study groups will provide an exciting opportunity to review materials before a test or an exam. You can take insights from fellow students and see the things they got, but you missed while reading.
Be Familiar With Hospital Staff
Remember that your program will also involve getting hands-on experience at a clinic or a hospital. It will help you build a relationship with your nurses, doctors, and other professional staff. Beyond being able to point things out to you, these people will also be beneficial to you later in your career. You can use them as references, call on them for additional help down the line, and more.