What are Accelerated Nursing Programs?

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Nursing is one of the hottest job markets, and many people who have gotten degrees in other areas may want to consider it as a second career.  Let’s face it: career decisions are made when you are young and unable to fully appreciate your strengths.  Couple that with a flagging economy, and it is easy to see why people are looking to change careers in middle age.  Many people find that nursing provides the economic security, the pay, and the reward that is lacking in their current career.

Accelerated nursing programs are the ticket for many later-in-life nursing students.  Rather than start all over as a freshman in college to become a nurse, an accelerated program accepts the credits from the previous degree and gives you the opportunity to complete a second nursing degree.  Your life experience, your previous work, and the determination to make it in another career often help later in life students make it through the accelerated nursing program.

Purpose of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated Nursing

The purpose of accelerated nursing programs is to give you an edge when approaching your new nursing career.  You must have a bachelor’s degree or higher in a different discipline to qualify for this type of program.  You will pursue at least a bachelor’s degree with this program, but it won’t take four years to complete.

Part of the idea behind accelerated nursing programs is to get you a degree in the shortest amount of time.  Luckily, the credits you previously earned in college and your life experience count for something.  These details are taken into consideration and help you to pursue your dream of becoming a nurse in the quickest way possible.

In addition to using prior experience and quickly getting you to an RN, you become a valuable member of the nursing team.  Those who have the life experience can bring freshness to the profession that first time students cannot.  Often, students who participate in accelerated programs are more driven, more enthusiastic, and more successful.  The years of working in the world mean that you know what you want.  Accelerated programs where created to quickly prepare highly motivated students to enter nursing.

Accelerated BSN Programs

As an accelerated program nursing student, you do not have the option of an associate’s degree available to you.  In fact, you don’t need it because the accelerated program is usually completed within 16 to 18 months, including prerequisites. That is essentially the time frame for an associate’s degree, so it benefits you to seek out an accelerated BSN program.

With the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you will have more standing in the nursing community.  First, you will be eligible to sit for boards within two years.  Next, BSN graduates can expect higher pay, more respect, and eligibility for supervisory positions.  Many states are considering making a BSN the requirement for all nurses, but it is almost always a requirement if you hope to become a manager.  With your background in a different discipline and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, you would make an excellent candidate for a position as a manager, supervisor, or charge nurse.

Accelerated MSN Programs

If you have three years and the inclination, you could even fast-track into a master’s degree in nursing.  Again, you will use the credits from your previous degree, but you don’t need to hold a master’s in another discipline to be eligible for this program.  Simply having a bachelor’s in any other field is enough to get you into this program, but the benefits are astronomical.  Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) nurses are among the highest-ranking in nursing, most-respected in medicine, and most-desirable in the job field.

If you want to pursue your MSN, you have a few options to consider.  First, you could become a nurse practitioner.  This would give you the ability to examine, diagnose, and treat patients in much the same way a doctor does.  Of course, you would have to work under the supervision of a doctor, but this type of nurse is becoming more and more in demand with the rising cost of health care.  You can also pursue a clinical nurse specialist position with an MSN.  This is a type of specialization in an area of nursing that would allow you to conduct research, educate other nurses, and work within that specialty.  For instance, a cardiac clinical nurse specialist could work on a hospital unit that focuses on heart problems.  Really, the world of nursing is wide open to you with a master’s degree.

Special Considerations for Accelerated Nursing ProgramsAccelerated Nursing Programs Consideration

Before embarking in an accelerated nursing program, you must consider a few items first.  You want to make sure that you know exactly what you want.  Nursing school is not cheap or easy, and only the most dedicated students make it through.  You also have to realize that most of these programs move rather quickly.  You will be expected to absorb a great deal of information in a relatively short time frame.  It is challenging to learn all of nursing in so condensed a period of time.

This type of program may not work well for those with families, either.  You will be expected to go through the program in consecutive terms with no time off for the summer.  Additionally, you will not only have class work to consider.  You will also have to make time for clinicals that may take place in the evening or on the weekend.  It is important to discuss your dreams with your family before pursuing this program to make sure that you will have the support you will need.

Competition for spots in these programs is also quite high.  They are not as prevalent around the country as standard nursing curriculum, and many second-career students want to get in.  For this reason, most programs require a high GPA of 3.0 in all classes, and they rigorously interview prospective students to determine their drive, needs, and overall personality.  Be prepared to wait to get into one of these programs if you are fortunate enough to have one in your local area.