Career changes happen all the time. You study one thing at college, start in your chosen field and decide there’s another path that you need to pursue. For career changers looking to head into nursing, that can make for a difficult switch. You can’t go back and redo your education. Or can you?
Accelerated nursing programs are exactly what they sound like — post-university training programs for aspiring nurses. There are several options, and you can opt for a program ranging from roughly a year to three years. With online, night school, and full-time education options, an accelerated nursing program could be your answer to finally make the switch you need.
What is an accelerated nursing program?
Accelerated nursing programs are designed for aspiring nurses who did not receive a nursing degree in college. There are two main types of accelerated programs: a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and a Master of Science degree in Nursing (MSN). These programs, which are also known as direct-entry programs, range in length of time. Many BSN programs are between 11 and 18 months while an MSN program is roughly three years.
The main difference between BSN and MSN programs is BSN programs focus on more hands-on, clinical learning, while MSN programs build in leadership, administrative, and educational roles as well. Keep in mind that the MSN program will be longer and may even be more intensive.
After completing your accelerated program, which includes a clinical hour requirement, you’ll have to take a state licensing exam to officially become a registered nurse (RN). Typical salaries for BSN educated nurses typically range from $66,000 to $84,000. MSN-educated nurses make, on average, around $94,000 per year.
Tuition for accelerated nursing programs range between $50,000 and $90,000.
Benefits of accelerated nursing programs
While some form of nursing education is required to become a nurse in many states, there are some marquee benefits to completing these programs. The biggest benefit is you don’t need any kind of experience or formal training to join these programs — you can start out as a complete beginner. Other benefits include:
- Hands-on training: Accelerated nursing programs include a clinical element, so you’ll be able to gain valuable, real-world experience as a nurse before graduation. This, coupled with classroom and scenario work, is a great first step to become a great nurse.
- Accelerated time frame: Instead of spending four years (and potentially, more money) studying nursing, these year-long programs can provide you with fast, hands-on training that qualifies you to take the nursing licensing exam. That means you can become a nurse without the headache of getting bogged down in an extensive education program.
- Quality education: While these programs are faster than typical four-year nursing degrees, they don’t skimp on quality. The United States has some of the most qualified and respected health professionals in the world. By completing an accelerated program, you’ll be joining their ranks as an educated, informed, and effective medical professional.
In addition to these three main benefits, there are countless other benefits to accelerated nursing programs, including employability, an extensive learning curriculum, and online and full-time schooling options. By following the path of becoming a respected and qualified nurse, you’re opening doors for your career and personal growth.
Do you qualify?
These programs are effective, fast ways to learn to become a nurse. They are not, however, without their own prerequisites and qualifications. MSN qualifications are a bit more rigorous compared to BSN qualifications. However, both are aimed at ensuring that productive, diligent students are joining their ranks. The qualifications for each program are as follows.
Getting a BSN
- Bachelor’s degree in any major: The accelerated nursing programs are great options for prospective nurses, but you have to have completed a normal bachelor’s degree in order to qualify. If you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in another field of study, you may have to look into more traditional nursing schools.
- Minimum GPA of 3.0: Accelerated nursing programs want good students. You can prove this by maintaining a 3.0 GPA in your former university or college.
- Prerequisite courses (if applicable): This only applies to certain programs. Look into local and regional programs, as well as online options, and determine what prerequisite courses you may need. These courses can include basic collegiate science classes, like Biology. If you haven’t met certain prerequisites, you may be able to complete them at a local community college. Make sure you discuss your options with the accelerated nursing program before you start.
Getting an MSN
- Bachelor’s degree in any major: Like the BSN, MSN programs require a four-year university bachelor’s degree before you begin.
- Minimum GPA of 3.0
- Letters of reference: In addition to being an upstanding student and a college graduate, MSN programs usually require you to provide three letters of reference: two academic and one professional. These reference letters further establish your qualifications as a student and worker. Because the MSN program is more intensive than the BSN, these types of qualifications can separate prospective applicants.
- Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within five years of application: The GRE is a typical standardized test for higher education. It, like your former GPA and letters of reference, further establishes your qualifications as a candidate for the school. The GRE is an extensive graduate school standardized test. You have to complete it within five years of your application to the MRE program to qualify.
- Test of English as a foreign language: This is only required of applicants who do not speak English as their primary language. This exam ensures you have the language skills required to complete the program and be an effective nurse in your home state.
Accelerated nursing programs are a fast, effective way to become a nurse. There are some prerequisites and qualifications needed in order to qualify, but once you’re accepted to a program you can become a nurse in as little as 11 months. If you think nursing is your chosen path and you’re already working in another industry, accelerated nursing programs are an excellent way to break into the medical profession.