There has never been a better time to begin a nursing career. With high employment growth and ample opportunities for advancement, more and more adults are looking to nursing as an attractive second career option.
However, some nursing degree programs can take years to complete, and being in school for that long isn’t always an option for those who are looking to jumpstart a new career.
To help a growing number of adults make the switch, colleges and universities have rolled out accelerated programs that provide a fast track to a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree.
Wondering if an accelerated BSN program is right for you? Here’s what you need to know:
What is an accelerated nursing program?
Accelerated programs are designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. Students enrolled in an accelerated BSN program can receive transfer credit for general education courses they completed during their previous undergraduate studies, allowing them to begin their nursing classes faster and start preparing for the nursing workforce.
If all your general education and science courses transfer, you can complete an accelerated program and earn your BSN in as few as 20 months. That’s half the time it would take you to complete a traditional BSN degree program.
Is an accelerated nursing program right for you?
If you’re looking to earn your BSN as quickly as possible, then an accelerated program might be the best option for you.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that an accelerated program moves very quickly. You can expect fast-paced learning, with no traditional breaks over the course of the 20 months. While nursing school can be challenging in general, the compressed time frame of an accelerated program can make it more demanding.
Of course, you will have strong support every step of the way from your instructors, career advisors and your nursing cohort. For Kate Frkovich, a student in Herzing-Brookfield’s ABSN program, that has made all the difference.
“I obtained my philosophy degree from UW Madison in 2003, so I hadn’t taken a science course in years. I thought that medicine and healthcare was a door that had closed for me a long time ago,” she says. “I had anxiety about making a switch, but I wanted to bet on myself. Now, my life is on a new path and I am growing even more confident in my decision to pursue my BSN and a career I’m passionate about.”
Here are some other benefits of choosing an accelerated program:
1. Take advantage of fast-growing employment opportunities
A bachelor’s degree is becoming the new educational standard for registered nurses, as hospitals and other healthcare organizations respond to the Institute of Medicine’s call to increase their bachelors-prepared RN staff to 80 percent by 2020. Today, many hospitals are only seeking to hire BSN-prepared nurses -- or those who are committed to going back to school!
With a BSN, you’ll not only have a competitive advantage in landing a job after graduation, but you’ll also have better opportunities for career growth and advancement, as well as the option to continue your education through a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program.
2. Boost your earning potential
A BSN-prepared nurse might advance into higher-paying management and leadership roles more quickly than an ASN nurse. By enrolling in an accelerated BSN program, you can ensure land a nursing job with high earning potential as soon as possible.
The median salary for a registered nurse was $75,510 in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. To learn more, see our chart of average BSN nurse salary by state.
3. Earn dual credit toward your MSN
Through Herzing’s ABSN program, you can get a jump start on your MSN degree. Eligible students can take advantage of Herzing’s dual-credit option to complete up to four graduate-level courses as part of their ABSN program. This is a huge time and money saver, allowing you to begin your nursing career and plan for career advancement at the same time.
What if I’m not ready for an accelerated BSN program?
An accelerated program might not be the best fit for you– and that’s okay! If you’re worried about the demands of a 20-month program, rest assured: there are several other pathways you can take to a nursing degree that might allow you to work at a more comfortable pace.
For example, you may be able to apply credits from your prior degree to a traditional BSN degree program. Typically, these programs take up to three years to complete when attending full-time, but you could reduce your time to get the degree through your transfer credit. Additionally, a more flexible course schedule, combined with online course offerings, might allow for a more feasible work-life-school balance.
Earning your associate degree in nursing (ASN) is also a quick path to becoming a registered nurse. Many nurses start out by earning their ASN and choose to advance their education through a bachelor’s or master’s degree program later on. You can earn your ASN in as little as two years, depending on your transfer credits.
It’s our goal to help you succeed in your second career, and our career advisors can work with you to determine which program is the best fit for your needs. Learn more about our nursing programs and find out how you can get started on your journey today!