Over the last ten years, the number of accelerated nursing degree programs has increased dramatically due to a high demand for nurses.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the demand for nurses will grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2022. This need is due to factors such as an emphasis on preventive care, an increased rate in chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity, and the growing need for care for the baby boom population.
As a result, the growth in accelerated nursing degree programs exceeds that of many other entry-level nursing programs offered at traditional four-year nursing schools and colleges. There are now well over 15,000 students in accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs in the United States.
In most cases, accelerated BSN programs are meant for non-nursing students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Since these students already have a degree, an accelerated BSN program builds on a student’s prior education while introducing them to the nursing field so they can start working more quickly.
What is an Accelerated BSN Program?
An accelerated BSN program enables nursing students who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field to earn their nursing degree in 11 to 18 months, which is less than the four years it takes to complete a typical bachelor’s in nursing degree.
Students in an accelerated nursing program take the same number of classes as in a traditional nursing program, but at a faster, more intensive pace. Because of this, most accelerated BSN programs are quite rigorous. Don’t expect to be able to work full time and complete your accelerated BSN on the side. An accelerated BSN degree program is a full-time commitment.
What Are the Benefits of an Accelerated BSN?
There are many reasons to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing, especially in an accelerated program. For one, many programs are now offered online, which means you can obtain your degree from a good school without leaving your house.
In terms of salary, BSN degree holders earn a median average of $69,000 a year. Not to mention that nurses with a BSN degree are eligible for 88 percent of positions posted, compared to 51 percent for RN’s (who hold an associate degree).
With an accelerated program, you will learn more than just basic job knowledge from your BSN program; you will also learn leadership and critical thinking skills to prepare you for more jobs in the field.
The American Association of Colleges of Nurses (AACN) has stated that accelerated BSN students have a higher academic standard than students on a normal track. They are likely to be more motivated are usually better students. In fact, the AACN also says that employers openly support accelerated BSN programs.
Hospital employers report that accelerated BSN have more experience, learn faster, and are more mature. These employers really value accelerated BSN graduates.
What Can You Expect From Your Accelerated BSN Program?
Because they are so short, accelerated BSN programs are rigorous and difficult. Many programs do not allow students to work outside of school so they can focus on their coursework.
However, completing your degree online may give you some more flexibility in your schedule so you can work part-time while going to school—but remember that trying to work full-time will distract you from your coursework and it may end up taking longer to finish.
An accelerated BSN program combines heavy coursework with clinical experience. You will gain practical tools to help you in your work as a nurse, but you will also learn skills, such as communication and critical thinking that will give you an advantage in the workplace. Many of these programs also allow you to complete your clinical hours at a facility near you.
After you graduate, you will be prepared to take the NCLEX-RN exam in your state and become a registered nurse. Different schools offer different curricula, but most accelerated BSN programs include the following courses:
- Nursing care for infants, children, and adolescents
- Nursing care for adults
- Nursing ethics
- Human anatomy
- Wellness promotion
- Research and evidence-based practice
- Health assessment
- Public health nursing
- Professional nursing overview
How do You Get Into an Accelerated BSN Program?
To be accepted, you must:
- Already have a bachelor’s degree, even if in another field.
- Have a minimum GPA between 2.5 to 3.0.
- Complete any prerequisite courses, especially if your previous bachelor’s degree was not in a scientific field or if your accelerated BSN program does not offer them as part of the degree. These usually include classes, such as microbiology, anatomy and physiology, statistics, or psychology.
Some programs may also require you to provide scores for certain standardized tests, but this also varies.
What Jobs Can I Get With a BSN?
Nurses with a BSN work in a variety of places, such as:
- Doctor’s offices
- Long-term care facilities
- Correctional facilities
- Summer camps
Within the health care system, you can choose to work in a particular specialty. Examples of specializations include:
- Obstetrics and Gynecology
- Hospice care
- Intensive care unit
If you’re passionate about becoming a nurse and are looking for a fast way to do it, then consider an accelerated BSN program. Many programs are offered online, which means you can get your degree from the comfort of your own home, and then complete your clinical hours at a health care facility near you. Not only is there a high demand for nurses, but the salary is excellent and the job can be highly rewarding.
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