Accelerated BSN Programs

It is not a secret that there is a widespread nursing shortage in the United States. In fact, according to the American Nurses Association, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) predicts “…the supply in nurses in America will fall 36 percent (more than 1 million nurses) below requirements by the year 2020.” The Washington Post noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics “…projects that 526,800 more nurses will be needed by 2022 – an increase of 19.4 percent from 2012 – to help keep up with patient growth and replace those who leave.” In addition, the nursing shortage can be physically and emotionally damaging to the nurses that are currently in the work force. The American Nurses Association notes that due to the shortage, nurses are working longer hours; this can result in fatigue, physical injury and job dissatisfaction. Nurses working in areas of shortage are more prone to medication errors, which affects patient care and subsequently patient satisfaction. Knowing that the nursing shortage is a big problem that is projected to continue worsening, what can be done to educate more nurses and entice them into the nursing field?

What is an Accelerated BSN Program?

An accelerated BSN program (ABSN) are a viable option to decreasing the nursing shortage. An accelerated BSN programs is designed for non-nursing professionals who already hold an undergraduate degree. As such, they are sometimes called a “second degree nursing program.” The American Association of Colleges of Nursing notes that these programs are typically between 11 and 18 months, and that also includes prerequisites. These programs can be shorter than a typical BSN program because the students already have many of the prerequisites required of a BSN degree, as they already have a bachelor's degree. Ultimately, these programs will educate and train students who are already educated – this will enable these students to get into the nursing workforce quickly.

Who Is Eligible for Enrollment in an Accelerated BSN Program?

Accelerated BSN programs are typically offered to a student who already holds a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Most of these programs require a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average, although some require a lesser GPA if other requirements are met. Some programs require standardized testing, such as the GRE. Most programs require specific prerequisites prior to admission, such as statistics, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and microbiology. Candidates may undergo an extensive interview process. Administrators want to ensure that the applicants they accept will be able to complete the program successfully. Most programs request that their students do not have a job throughout the program, as the workload can be exhaustive.

Where Can I Attend an Accelerated BSN Program?

Accelerated BSN programs can be found in 46 states in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “In 2012, there were 255 accelerated baccalaureate programs and 71 accelerated master's programs available at nursing schools nationwide.” Click here for a list of accelerated BSN programs in the United States.

What Does an Accelerated BSN Program Entail?

All programs will vary slightly, depending on the school. Duke University has a School of Nursing that offers an accelerated BSN program, also called the ABSN program. Their program is based on-campus, is 16 months in duration, and broken down into 4 semesters. Students will complete 58 credit hours and about 800 hours of clinical experience. Their program requires that all prerequisites be completed prior to enrollment, but do require 6 elective credits throughout the program. Per Duke's website, “This program incorporates all of the components of a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program with an additional focus on 21st century health care needs and environment.” It also boasts an exceptional clinical experience to its students – students may be placed in various locations of the Duke University Health System and even around the world.

Duke's requirements are similar to requirements of other accelerated BSN programs; the applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in any major, must have a 3.0 GPA and must have all prerequisites completed prior to entrance of the program. Once the student is accepted into the program, the semester course load varies; students will take 12 – 16 credits each semester throughout the program. Coursework includes classes that focus on wellness and health promotion, pharmacology, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics and multiple courses dealing with management, leadership and critical thinking. In addition, Duke has an MSN program. Students that are enrolled in the ABSN program are eligible for early application and admission for the MSN program prior to regular admission cycles.

How Can I Pay for an Accelerated BSN Program?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, one downfall to an ABSN program is that financial resources are limited. However, graduates from ABSN programs are highly sought after as employees as they have a multifaceted approach to nursing due to prior work experience. In order to recruit these staff nurses, hospitals may offer tuition repayment programs. These programs are designed to attract ABSN graduates and pay for a portion of their education. In addition, hospitals are beginning to partner with colleges. This allows the hospital to recruit ABSN graduates to work for them after graduation. Hospitals or health systems that have partnerships with local schools include Tenet Healthcare, arondelet Health Network, University of Missouri Health Care, North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Duke University Health System. Many other hospitals and health care systems are following their examples. Duke University also offers programs that will help their students afford their education. These programs include scholarships, federal loans, and employment options. For example, a student that is already employed at Duke Hospital may have up to 90% of their education paid for if they agree to continue working there for a year after graduation.

Are There Any Online Accelerated BSN Programs?

The majority of ABSN programs are on-campus programs. However, there are some programs that are offered online. Online programs still have specific requirements, may have a grueling interview process and are also full-time, as opposed to other online nursing programs. An online program may be desirable to students who would otherwise have to commute to attend their classes. It may also be desirable for the student who learns best through self-study. According to Nurse Journal, there are a variety of online programs. For example, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is renowned as one of the best nursing schools in the country. The majority of coursework is completed online, although clinical experiences must be completed on-site in a variety of settings. This program is unique in that it does require a bachelor's degree in any field, but also requires its applicants to hold a certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification in their state of residence. This allows the student to be familiar with certain aspects of the nursing field prior to enrollment. This program typically costs about $41,500. In contrast, Thomas Edison State College, located in New Jersey, also offers an online ABSN program. Similarly to the online program offered by University of Wisconsin, this program is based online or on-campus. It is designed for adult learners. It also has specific requirements for admission. However, this program costs about $33,580, which is about $8,000 cheaper than University of Wisconsin. Prospective students must research ABSN programs thoroughly to ensure that they meet all requirements and that they can afford their education.

Why Should I Enroll in an Accelerated BSN Program?

As with any type of nursing school, an ABSN program may be difficult and time-consuming. Many hours will be spent studying and many cups of coffee will be downed in preparation for these study sessions and early morning clinicals. However, the time passes quickly and at the end of the program, the student will be the proud holder of a Bachelor's of Nursing Degree.

ABSN program graduates are highly sought after as entry level nurses after graduation. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “The typical second-degree nursing student is motivated, older, and has higher academic expectations than traditional entry-level nursing students. Accelerated students excel in class and are eager to gain clinical experiences. Faculty find them to be excellent learners who are not afraid to challenge their instructors… graduates of accelerated programs are prized by nurse employers who value the many layers of skill and education these graduates bring to the workplace.” This fact alone is a reason to enroll in an accelerated BSN program as opposed to a different type of nursing program.

Other reasons to enroll in an accelerated BSN program include personal satisfaction towards earning an additional bachelor's degree, a rewarding career, an excellent salary and numerous other personal reasons. While all students will have their own reasons for continuing their education, doing so in nursing will also be to the benefit of others.

There are a number of different types of BSN programs available. If an accelerated BSN program is available and the student meets all requirements, this is an excellent option in order to achieve an additional bachelor's degree in a short period of time and begin working as an RN in a short period of time.

P. Shreffler

About P. Shreffler

P. Shreffler started her nursing career in 2010 as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). After working for almost five years she decided it was time to go back to college and further her education. In June of 2015 she passed her NCLEX on the first attempt and can finally put that RN behind her name! Her background has been in the long-term care setting for these past 5 years with a small amount of experience in acute care during RN school. I am excited at where my career may take me and I enjoy knowing that I may make the difference in many, many lives down the road!
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