If you have a passion for helping people and are seeking a career with vast opportunities, career flexibility, above-average earning potential and the overall satisfaction of improving lives, a career in nursing seems right up your alley. You know what a registered nurse (RN) does and the benefits of becoming an RN – you just don’t know which educational route to take.
Should you pick a quicker program to get your foot in the door quickly? Or should you take a leap and aim for an accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) program right away?
We spoke with Dr. Joan Rich, Rasmussen College School of Nursing Vice President, to get her expertise on this exciting entry option into nursing. See what she reveals about the accelerated BSN and find out if it’s the right path for you!
What is an accelerated BSN program?
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s important to know what an accelerated BSN program is and how it differentiates from other nursing degree options.
Simply put, an accelerated BSN program is the fast-track to earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Unlike practical nursing diploma programs or associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs, an accelerated BSN program yields a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Graduates of this program can become an RN upon passing the NCLEX exam.
While an RN to BSN program is designed for already licensed nurses going back to school to further their degree, the accelerated BSN program is geared toward students who do not yet have an registered nursing (RN) license. This is a degree program for students who want to reach BSN status upon entering the nursing field. If they already possess a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field, the accelerated BSN program will enable them to quickly earn their BSN and change careers.
The bottom line is that an accelerated BSN program is for the seriously-devoted and ambitious nursing student who knows what they want and is willing to go the extra mile to get there.
What can you expect from an accelerated BSN program?
Prior to beginning an accelerated BSN program, you must first take the TEAS test. This is a pre-admittance exam that gauges your potential for the nursing program.
Once admitted to this full-time, high-intensity program, you can expect to take a variety of rigorous courses, including labs, simulation and clinicals that provide valuable hands-on experience, Rich explains.
After the program has been completed, you must take the NCLEX-RN exam. With a passing score, you will become an RN and be on your way to an amazing and fulfilling career.
Because of the intensity and the sheer number of credits a nursing student needs to obtain, it’s not feasible to work full-time while enrolled in an accelerated BSN program. You’ll need to be monetarily secure enough to back away from work for those few years. It’s also important to have family support and a good academic profile in order to get the most out of the program.
“It’s not for everybody,” Rich warns.
Who is an ideal candidate for an accelerated BSN program?
There are two profiles of students that are a good fit for an accelerated BSN program.
The first student is driven and focused. This person knows they want to be a nurse and are determined to put forth the necessary time and effort to achieve that goal. They know this is the career for them and are willing to devote the next few years of their lives to making this happen.
The second student already has a degree and a job, but is looking to change careers. They aren’t happy with their particular profession and want to pursue one they can be passionate about. Because of their prior college experience, their time to completion would be shorter than someone entering with no degree.
No matter the case, successful students in accelerated BSN programs need to exhibit great self-discipline. Rich admits the curriculum is challenging, meaning you’ll need to be organized and motivated to be successful. You should also possess the ability to collaborate with others and take direction well.
If you fit one of the profiles above and consider yourself highly motivated, you will thrive in an accelerated BSN program, according to Rich.
How long is an accelerated BSN program?
For students coming in with no prior college experience, many accelerated BSN programs are completed in four years, though some can be completed in as few as 33 months.*
For career-changing students entering an accelerated BSN program with a bachelor’s degree under their belt already, a BSN can be earned in as few as 18 months.*
What are some benefits of choosing the accelerated BSN route?
Why would someone choose an accelerated BSN program over other nursing options, like an ADN? After all, associate degree holders can be RNs also.
When choosing between an ADN or a BSN, know that the two degrees will impact your career differently. While your title of RN remains the same with the two degree options, a BSN will afford you more career options throughout your career.
A BSN will allow you to have more options to pursue leadership and management positions compared to an ADN graduate. You’ll also be qualified for more RN job postings, because some hospitals have strict standards and require BSN credentials. A BSN curriculum will also cover advanced topics such as public health, telehealth or informatics, says Rich. Additionally, many advanced nursing specialties require a BSN.
Ahead of the mandate
Another big perk of the BSN is that you’ll be ahead of the game with the upcoming nursing mandate. While some states have set ratio standards for hiring nurses with a BSN, the Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of nurses obtain their BSN by 2020. Other initiatives, such as BSN in Ten, propose that nurses obtain their BSN within 10 years of beginning their practice.
Either way, the current movement in the healthcare industry seems to forecast increased education standards for nurses in the future. Getting your BSN now can help you stand out from the crowd from the start.
Accelerate your career
Nursing is the career for you – there’s no denying that. You’re up for the challenge and you’ll do what you need to be the best nurse you can be. So what are you waiting for?
If you still think you have what it takes for an accelerated BSN program, learn more about Rasmussen College’s accelerated BSN programs and start turning your daydream into the career of your dreams!