Accelerated Nursing Programs: How Do They Work?

Accelerated Nursing Programs: How Do They Work?

This article discusses accelerated nursing programs and the opportunities they offer for people who want to become nurses but didn’t start right after high school. These programs are a quicker way for individuals who have decided later on or were discouraged before to achieve their nursing goals.

Accelerated nursing programs include an accelerated associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a master of science in nursing (MSN), with the last two being more common.

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In this guide, you’ll learn about the different accelerated nursing programs available. This information can help you decide which path is right for your goals.

What Is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

Accelerated nursing programs are designed for people who already have a degree in a different field. Getting a bachelor’s degree on an accelerated track usually takes 11 to 18 months, while a master’s takes about three years.

During this time, you’ll complete all the necessary requirements like classes and practical experience to become a registered nurse (RN). The fast pace can be tough with no breaks and longer daily classes. You’ll need the same number of clinical hours for a license, but you have less time to finish them.

RNs who complete an accelerated program might have an edge in certain roles since they often have backgrounds in other areas. For example, a nurse with a management background might do well in nursing leadership.

Pros and Cons of Accelerated Nursing Programs

When deciding on an accelerated nursing program, it’s important to think about the good and not-so-good sides to see if it’s a good fit for you.

Advantages of Accelerated Nursing Programs:

Save Time: These programs take 11-18 months instead of 2-4 years.
High Demand: The demand for nurses is expected to increase.
Experience Counts: Previous work and school experience can help.
Job Options: Having a non-nursing degree along with a BSN opens up more jobs.

Disadvantages of Accelerated Nursing Programs:

Time-Consuming: The schedule is busier every day.
Cost: The program’s cost and not being able to work full time because of the demanding schedule can be a challenge.
Competition: Those with more academic and practical nursing experience are still competing for jobs.
Intensity: The material you cover is more intense because it’s taught in a shorter time.

Who Should Consider an Accelerated Nursing Program?

Accelerated nursing programs are great for those who want a second degree to boost their skills. Having a nursing background can open doors. These programs are also for people with a bachelor’s degree in something other than nursing who want to change careers.

If the accelerated program works for you, you need to commit to the busy schedule. You should also be able to financially support yourself since some programs might not allow full-time work.

How Do Accelerated Nursing Programs Work?

Accelerated nursing programs are similar to regular ones when it comes to applying, the subjects you study, and job opportunities.

To apply, you usually need a GPA of 3.0, transcripts, and a personal statement. But accelerated programs also require a degree in a non-nursing subject. You need to show you can manage the demanding schedule.

ADN students learn about human anatomy, clinical skills, and other basics. BSN students study advanced topics like research and health assessments. MSN students are ready for jobs in education, administration, and more. All students get hands-on experience in medical settings.

After finishing the program, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a licensed RN. The state nursing boards decide if you get a license based on your NCLEX results.

Types of Accelerated Nursing Programs

There are three kinds of accelerated nursing programs: ADN, BSN, and MSN. The most common is the BSN.

Here’s a look at each program and what you need to get in and job options.

Accelerated Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN):

This program is for licensed practical nurses and people with non-nursing degrees who want to become nurses. After this, you can take the NCLEX-RN test to become a registered nurse.

Time to finish: 12-16 months
Requirements: High school chemistry, biology, algebra; GPA of 2.7 or higher; transcripts, SAT scores, and an essay
Job options: Doctors’ offices, nursing care facilities, labor and delivery, rehabilitation services. Average pay is $70,950 as of 2021.

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN):

This program is for ADN-holders, people who want to become RNs, or RNs who want more education. You need a bachelor’s degree in any field to qualify. A BSN can lead to more advanced degrees like an MSN.

Time to finish: 11-18 months
Requirements: Bachelor’s degree in non-nursing field; GPA of 3.0 or higher; science classes; resume, statement, and interview
Job options: Emergency rooms, intensive care units, schools. Average pay is $86,800 as of 2021.

Accelerated Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN):

This program is for people with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field other than nursing and ADN nurses. It’s also for nurses who want to work in education, advanced practice nursing, and health policy.

Time to finish: 36 months
Requirements: Bachelor’s or master’s degree in non-nursing field (RN-to-MSN programs are for RNs without a BSN); GPA of 3.0 or higher; science classes; recommendation letters
Job options: Midwifery, education, leadership, clinical specialists. Average pay is $96,290 as of 2021.

How Challenging Are Accelerated Nursing Programs?

Accelerated nursing programs can be quite challenging due to their rigorous schedules and the need for a significant time commitment to earn the degree. The coursework can be demanding, and the fast pace of learning can be tough. Students have to cover the same material and complete clinical hours in a much shorter time compared to traditional programs, which can be difficult to manage.

Because of these demands, accelerated programs often advise students not to work alongside their studies so they can fully focus on their education.

To succeed in an accelerated nursing program, students need to realize the amount of time they’ll need to dedicate to their studies. Effective time management is essential, as well as being organized and motivated. These programs are generally designed for full-time students.

Tips for Success in Accelerated Nursing Programs

Here are some ways to increase your chances of success in an accelerated nursing program:

1. Time Management: Being able to manage your time effectively is crucial in meeting deadlines and keeping up with coursework.
2. Organization: Organizing your tasks and setting deadlines can help maintain or even increase your productivity.
3. Dedication and Passion: Having a strong dedication to the nursing profession and a passion for the work can greatly contribute to your success.
4. Peer Connections: Building relationships with your classmates can lead to academic collaboration, such as study groups and future networking.
5. Mental Health: Even in a demanding program, finding ways to relax and recharge your mind is important.
6. Support Network: Family and friends can provide understanding and support throughout the program, helping with finances or offering study breaks.

Frequently Asked Questions about Accelerated Nursing Programs

Are accelerated BSN programs worth it?

The value of an accelerated nursing program depends on your career goals. If you’re interested in shifting your career toward nursing, these programs can be very beneficial. They allow you to earn your degree in a shorter time. Plus, with the growing demand for nurses, there are usually plenty of job opportunities after graduation.

Can I complete an accelerated nursing program online?

Many colleges and universities offer accelerated nursing programs online. While the theoretical part of the program can be done online, students generally need to complete clinical hours at local healthcare facilities. Online programs can offer more flexibility within the demanding curriculum.

Is it hard to get into an accelerated nursing program?

Admission difficulty varies by the degree level. ADN programs usually require a GPA of at least 2.7, while BSN and MSN programs require a GPA of 3.0. For the latter two, applicants need to already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. Applicants also need to show in their personal essay or interview that they can handle the fast pace of an accelerated program.

How much do accelerated nursing programs cost?

The cost depends on the degree and the institution. Tuition can range from $10,000 to over $130,000. Associate degree programs are generally more affordable and often offered by community colleges. BSN and MSN programs are usually more expensive, with costs ranging from $60,000 to $130,000 depending on the school.

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