Higher institutions of learning are responding to the demands of society in the need for additional Registered Nurses (RNs) by offering accelerated degrees in nursing. These programs are designed for those who hold a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in areas other than nursing. Many schools offer an accelerated, or direct entry, program for a BA/BS to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN); fewer schools offer a BA/BS to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or BA/BS to Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree.
There has been a steady increase in the number of RNs with a bachelor’s degree over the past several years. One reason for this increase could be attributed to the fact that nurses with a bachelor’s degree report earning an average of $10,000 more per year than those nurses with a diploma or Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). Additionally, many institutions are requiring their staff nurses to hold a minimum of a BSN even for direct patient care or charge nurse positions. In turn, these facilities are paying higher wages to attract and retain the bachelor’s-prepared nurse.
Accelerated nursing programs require a rigorous commitment to the program, which can run anywhere from 12 to 24 months, depending on the institution. Most schools offer traditional or hybrid tracks where courses are delivered on-campus with a few courses completed online. Those schools with traditional (weekday courses on the campus) tracks discourage their students from working during the accelerated program to foster an environment of less distractions and to aid in the overall success of completing the demanding coursework and clinical requirements.
Tuition for accelerated programs may vary from school to school. Public institutions, such as California State University, Fullerton, run close to $23,000 for tuition and fees. Private schools like Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, charge over $80,000 for their 15-month program. These tuitions and fees do not include other necessary items such as books, lab fees, uniforms, transportation to clinical sites, etc. Students must plan for several more thousand dollars to cover these additional items.
Prerequisites for accelerated programs also vary according to the school. For example, Samford University in Alabama requires those applying for the accelerated BSN program to hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university in the past 10 years with a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 2.5. Additionally, the program requires the applicant to have completed a number of science courses including anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry. Most nursing programs also required students to complete the TEAS test and/or Critical Thinking tests prior to admission.
Coursework for the accelerated programs remains fairly stable as set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the requirements for accreditation through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Courses may include:
- Adult Health I, II, III
- Health Assessment and Promotion
- Women’s Health Nursing
- Child and Adolescent Health Nursing
- Evidenced-Based Practice
- Epidemiology for Population-Based Care
- Inter-Professional Health Care Practices
- Leadership in Nursing
- Public Health Nursing
- Psychiatric Nursing
- Role Transition
In addition to the coursework, nursing students will also complete over 1,035 hours in clinical rotations through a variety of medical settings such as critical care, medical/surgical, emergency rooms, labor and delivery, pediatrics, psychiatry, and community health.
For those students who have completed a bachelor’s degree in another field, and now see the value that nursing has to offer, options such as accelerated nursing programs allow them to pursue that career at any stage in their life path. Accelerated nursing programs are an excellent way to complete a degree in nursing, in a short period of time, for a lifetime of reward and benefit.