The US Department of Labor reports that there will be a need for at least one million new registered nurses by 2020. It is for that reason that many nursing schools in the US have been exploring innovative ways to fill the pipeline with new nursing students.
One of the best approaches to attract more nurses to this popular and growing field is to reduce the length of time it takes to earn a degree in nursing. These types of programs are referred to as accelerated nursing programs, and have several advantages over other nursing programs:
- An accelerated program for a non-nursing professional allows you to move into the nursing field without earning a bachelor’s degree first. These programs generally result in a master’s in nursing degree, and may be completed much faster than if you took a bachelor’s and master’s program separately. Earning those degrees separately would take six years, whereas you can earn an MSN and still cover the BSN material, in approximately four to 4.5 years.
- For current nursing professionals, accelerated programs give you credit for classes you have already taken so that you can earn your advanced degree faster.
- With a direct entry MSN program for the non-nurse, you can earn your BSN in just 16-24 months, earn your RN license, and get an entry-level nursing job, while you work on your master’s degree.
- When you are able to earn degrees faster you save thousands of dollars in tuition costs.
- Earning an advanced nursing degree faster, such as an MSN, means you can spend more of you time in college on specialties that truly interest you: neonates, geriatrics, oncology, pediatrics, etc.
- Earning another degree in as much as 18 months less time means you can earn a higher salary much faster.
These accelerated nursing programs are offered in a few different forms:
Accelerated Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) for Current RNs – LPN to BSN
This type of accelerated LPN to BSN program is intended as the fastest possible route to RN licensure for nurses who already have an associate’s degree in nursing. These nurses already are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and have at least a year or two of clinical nursing experience.
The advantage of an LPN holder earning their BSN degree is that they have higher earning potential. Further, hundreds of health care employers now are telling their LPN employees to earn their BSN degree. Surveys of health care employers confirm that the majority of them prefer to hire nurses with bachelor’s degrees.
For current LPNs who want to earn their BSN online, a good program for your consideration is North Dakota State University. This is a very popular program, and currently has more enrollees than it can accommodate, so it is advisable to plan well in advance.
Your required coursework includes:
- Nursing as a Scholarly Profession
- Transition from LPN to BSN
- Health Assessment
- Leadership and Ethical Reflection
- Integrated Family Nursing
- Psychosocial Nursing
- Public Health Nursing
- Nursing Management
- Complex Issues in Adult Health
This online degree program for working nursing professionals is designed to be completed online in approximately 18 months.
Accelerated BSN for Non-Nursing Professionals
Many professionals have spent years in other professions and eventually decide that they want to become a nurse. They may be attracted to more rewarding work where they have the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. Also, they may be attracted to the high job demand and median salary for nurses. The advantage of this type of accelerated program is the ability to earn a nursing bachelor’s degree in less than four years.
There are a good number of accelerated BSN programs for non-nursing professionals, such as at the University of Pennsylvania, which is an online, accredited program.
Admissions requirements for this two year program include:
- Personal statement
- Two recommendations
- 0 GPA
- GRE scores are optional
Once you have graduated from the program, you will be able to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.
Accelerated RN to MSN Program for Current Nurses
If you already have your associate’s degree in nursing and you want to move into the highest paying nursing careers, a very good accelerated option is to take an online RN to MSN program. This innovative program lets you earn your BSN and MSN degree in the same program, and it takes only approximately three years to earn both. This also is referred to as an RN to MSN bridge program. The major advantage of this program is that you will reduce your time in school by approximately two years.
For example, Capella University online offers an innovative RN to MSN program. With this accredited degree, you will be able to work in the most demanding, highest paying nursing professions (known as advanced practice registered nurses or APRNS) which are in huge demand:
- Nurse practitioner
- Certified nurse midwife
- Nurse anesthetist
- Clinical nursing specialist
- Nurse educator
In the first part of this program, you will take your BSN classes, which include:
- Introduction to Nursing Concepts
- Health Assessment and Promotion for Disease Prevention
- Introduction to Nursing Research, Ethics and Technology
- Leadership for Nursing Practice
Then you will take your MSN program courses, including:
- Orientation to Graduate Nursing Study
- Advanced Physiology and Pathphysiology
- Advanced Pharmacology
- Principles of Advanced Nursing Practice
- Advanced Physical Assessment for Nursing
- Evidence Based Practice and Technology for Nursing
After you have completed the BSN section of the program, you can sit for your NCLEX-RN exam. Then, you continue with the MSN portion of the program. Once is completed and you have finished your clinical rotation hours, you may sit for your certification examination for your nursing speciality, such as family practitioner, nurse midwife or nurse anesthetist.
Direct Entry MSN Program – For Non-Nursing Professionals
The last major type of accelerated nursing program is the direct entry MSN program. This accelerated nursing degree program is made for the experienced non-nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another speciality who wants to be a nurse.
As with the above accelerated program, the end result in this program is to get your master’s degree in nursing, and to become an advanced practice registered nurse. Typically, a direct entry MSN program can be finished in two years full time. Being able to finish a full MSN degree without earning a BSN degree by itself is a huge time saver.
One of the most highly regarded online, direct entry MSN programs is offered by Johns Hopkins University. Required classes include:
- Foundations of Nursing Practice
- Health Assessment
- Integrated Clinical Management
- Promoting Health in Older Adults
- Research Process and Its Application to Evidence
- Child Health
- Maternal and Newborn Health
- Context of Healthcare for Advanced Nursing Practice
Because you do not have a background in nursing, you also must complete 17-20 prerequisites from another university, including anatomy with lab; microbiology; physiology with lab; statistics; and human growth and development.
As with most direct entry MSN programs, you will complete your BSN degree first and sit for your NCLEX-RN examination. Then you complete your MSN classes and become certified in your advanced nursing practice speciality.
Overall, accelerated nursing programs such as the ones described above offer you the ability to greatly increase your income but to do so in much less time in college. These types of accelerated programs open up the career of nursing to millions of busy professionals.