accelerated nursing programs

Exploring Accelerated Nursing Programs: A Fast-Track to Nursing

Opting for higher education is a necessity for nurses to ensure that their career does not become stagnant. However, going back to school for traditional advanced nursing degrees can take a fair bit of time. Most nursing degrees can take anywhere between 16 months to four years to complete.  

Staying in school for that long is often not an option for many. Especially considering the staffing shortages in hospitals, nurses going back to school can put pressure on the already burnt-out workforce. In addition, nurses staying in school longer can also delay entry into the workforce while an immediate need for nurses is unable to be met.   

This is where accelerated nursing programs come in. Offered by numerous nursing schools, these programs save a lot of time and energy, while still ensuring that nurses obtain the knowledge, expertise and skills needed to begin working. Individuals who have already received their bachelor’s in nursing or even a non-nursing discipline can qualify for these accelerated programs. The latter facility can especially help professionals looking for a career transition. 

Types of accelerated nursing programs

Accelerated nursing programs are available from beginner to advanced levels. These include: 

1. Accelerated ADN programs

These programs are for those who are starting out with their nursing career. The curriculum is centered around foundational nursing skills and knowledge that will train nurses for a successful career ahead.  

Usually, AADN programs are rare, and most ADN programs take about two years to complete. However, the few available options can be completed within a year to 16 months. After completing an ADN program, nurses become eligible for NCLEX-RN exams. 

Requirements to pursue an accelerated ADN program is the same as ADN programs. Candidates must have their high school diplomas, meet the minimum GPA requirements and be familiar with STEM subjects like chemistry or biology. 

An accelerated ADN program can be especially helpful for LPNs, non-nursing candidates who wish to transition to a nursing career, or those looking for a faster path to obtaining their LPN or RN licenses.  

2. Accelerated BSN programs

These programs are different from traditional BSN programs because only candidates who already have a bachelor’s or equivalent in a nursing or non-nursing discipline can pursue these degrees. Candidates can use credits from previous degrees towards this program so that they can complete their course work components faster.  

ABSN programs can take anywhere from 11 to 18 months to complete.  

Curriculum for these programs can be focused on nursing research, clinical experience, evidence-based practice, nursing ethics and leadership. These degrees can serve as preliminary foundation for more advanced nursing degrees. 

To be considered eligible for a ABSN degree, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and meet minimum GPA requirements. Some programs also require aspiring candidates to have specific subjects in undergrad.  

 3. Accelerated MSN programs

AMSN programs can benefit nurses who want to go into advanced practice. Nurses with these degrees can become eligible for leadership positions like nurse educators, nurse leaders and nurse administrators. AMSN programs can also offer a direct entry into a nursing career for those looking to switch fields.  

AMSN programs take about three years to complete. Some programs also allow candidates to have a BSN degree if they choose to opt out halfway. This is because the first year of AMSN degrees are constructed similar to the curriculum of a BSN degree.  

Most AMSN programs require candidates to have 3.0 GPA in an undergraduate course. Some programs also require having subjects related to a nursing curriculum in undergrad to be eligible. 

Also read: Tips on What To Wear to a Nursing Interview

Things to consider while choosing accelerated nursing programs

While accelerated nursing programs can provide a great opportunity for a career boost, it is important to do your due diligence before hopping aboard one. 

  • Accreditation: The program you choose must be accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). As accreditation ensures that the curriculum meets a set of specified standards, it also become a deciding factor for eligibility for licensing exams and jobs you can apply to. 
  • Rigorous syllabus: Most accelerated programs have an intense syllabus as they are required to condense a vast curriculum within a specified timeframe. There aren’t any summer or winter breaks typically as the degree has to be completed much faster than traditional degrees. Therefore, most degrees recommend that students only focus on their chosen program full time to ensure that they can keep up with the demanding requirements of the course. 
  • Career goals: You must have a clear perspective of your career goals before choosing an accelerated nursing degree. Nursing programs are offered by numerous institutions with a vast range of specialties, so it is important to understand what specific degrees offer and how they could impact your career path. 

Are accelerated nursing degrees worth it?

Accelerated nursing degrees certainly have an edge over traditional nursing degrees, especially if you’re looking for a fast-paced entry into the workforce. While traditional degrees can last up to four years and may not be as flexible, accelerated programs can be completed in less than half the time. The curriculum can be taxing but you do end up getting your investment’s worth, both in terms of money and time.   

In addition to this, accelerated nursing programs can be an expeditious solution to the shortage of nurses in hospitals presently. Employers usually are not biased in favor of traditional degrees over accelerated ones, so as long as your chosen program is accredited, you won’t face any difficulties with employment after graduating.  

Over to you

 Making the best decision for a fulfilling nursing career can be overwhelming, especially with the increasing number of options. Understanding you career goals and doing your research about these degrees can be the first step towards making better decisions. Accelerated programs can seem demanding and very condensed in terms of training.

But these very factors can ensure that students are solely focused in their education. The selective curriculum also guarantees that students gain specialized expertise in their chosen field. If you met the set eligibility criteria and are unfazed by the demanding curriculum, an accelerated nursing program can be the right boost for your nursing career. 

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