With the nursing profession projected as one of the fastest growing professions in the United States, it is no wonder that people from all backgrounds are considering nursing as a career change, and an accelerated nursing program is one such option. Not only does it offer job stability and a sustainable salary, but it is also highly rewarding and challenging. However, for the career-changer who has already completed a Bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, or even for the LPN who has completed some level of training, the idea of obtaining a second Bachelor’s degree, this time a BS in Nursing, can be daunting. Fortunately, many universities across the country offer accelerated nursing programs and LPN to BSN degree programs for just such populations.
Standard Accelerated Nursing Programs Shorten Length of BSN for Career-Changers
Accelerated nursing programs are specifically geared toward students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in something else. These students have already proven their ability to manage time, study effectively and retain knowledge. In addition, they have already taken most foundational courses in a bachelor’s degree program. While there may be some science pre-requisites to complete, almost all courses in an accelerated nursing program are focused specifically on the skills needed to be an RN.
In a standard BSN, students spend at least the first year, and sometimes the first two years, taking only foundational bachelor’s degree courses; nursing courses do not typically begin until the sophomore or junior year, and even then, they are often mixed in with other college courses. The student in an accelerated nursing program takes only the nursing courses, significantly shortening the time it takes to complete the degree. Most programs take between 11 and 18 months. A key component of any BSN degree is the clinical. Students in accelerated programs receive the same number of clinical hours as do their standard BSN counterparts.
LPN to BSN or RN to BSN Help Practicing Nurses Earn BSN
Another type of accelerated nursing program is an LPN to BSN or RN to BSN degree. These programs are geared toward students who already have a nursing background, and thus some level of nursing education. The programs build on the practical experience students have gained from working in the field. The LPN to BSN program is slightly longer than the RN to BSN program, as there is often more material to cover. Both programs allow students to complete their foundational Bachelor’s degree courses, and the nursing courses are geared specifically toward the skills and experience students already have. These programs can usually be completed in 4 to 5 semesters, versus 8 semesters for a standard BSN degree.
There are both benefits and challenges to enrolling in accelerated nursing programs. For those earning their second bachelor’s degree, the degree program usually runs continuously, with no breaks. This level of required focus can be exhausting. However, because the program moves so quickly, students will find themselves ready to enter the workforce in 18 months or less. For students in the LPN to BSN or RN to BSN programs, some material may seem redundant, depending on the student’s education and experience.
Online Accelerated Nursing Programs Help Students Juggle School, Family and Work Life
For all types of accelerated nursing programs, one of the biggest challenges is fitting education into an already established work and family life. Juggling schedules to allow for commute time, classes, and studying can make the prospect seem overwhelming. Online education has come a long way in the past decade, and many students are finding this be the solution. Credible colleges and universities across the country, in including some Ivy League schools, are offering these accelerated online courses, ensuring students that they get the highest quality education, even online. Because the course material is presented in a variety of formats, and most of those formats can be accessed at any time for the duration of the course, students can create their own schedule of class and study time. Plus, they do not have to allow extra time and money to cover commuting and parking. Nursing students in online programs do not miss out on the multiple learning opportunities that are available to students in brick and mortar institutions; class forums, online office hours, discussion boards, and even video conferencing and chat programs allow students to learn in a variety of ways from a variety of source. Students also complete their clinicals locally, and are still required to complete the same number of clinical hours as their campus-based counterparts.
Accelerated Nursing Programs Summation
The nursing profession is expected to grow 22% by the year 2018, opening up over 500,000 new positions. Whether you are a mid-life career changer or an LPN or RN looking to advance your education, this is the time to take advantage of an accelerated nursing program and set yourself up take one of those new positions.