What Is An Accelerated Nursing Degree?

Accelerated NursingWhat is an accelerated nursing degree? An accelerated degree in nursing is being provided by a growing number of colleges to accommodate bachelor’s degree graduates in non-nursing fields who want a fast track program toward a nursing profession. These accelerated programs produce Registered Nurses at the bachelor’s and master’s levels. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) currently lists 256 Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing and 66 Master’s of Science in Nursing accelerated programs in the United States.

Nursing in the Changing Health Industry

Accelerated nursing programs were begun when the awareness grew of the looming shortage of nurses in the future, both from retirement of a large proportion of current registered nurses and of the expanding demands for health care professionals at all levels by the aging baby boomers. And now with the Affordable Care Act increasing the number of patients at the doorsteps of medical service, the demand for nurses will see a dramatic rise.

College graduates with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than nursing form a large and capable pool of potential health care professionals, and a fast-track program that promises immediate employment after graduation in a burgeoning health industry is an attractive choice. Colleges that offer accelerated nursing degree programs are finding that these B.A. and B.S. graduates bring a diverse, motivated and sophisticated presence to their courses. Many employers prefer hiring these graduates who they see as more mature, experienced and possessing an understanding of the work world that make them potential leaders and managers.

Accelerated Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Programs

Accelerated bachelor of science in nursing programs usually take between 11 and 18 months to complete. The program is intense and full-time with no breaks between sessions. 50 to 60 hours of coursework cover nursing theory and clinical classes. Many hours of clinical practice are completed in a variety of health care settings. Upon completion of the program, students will sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed registered nurses.

Most schools will require of applicants a 3.0 grade point average in undergraduate work. The liberal arts courses will be accepted in lieu of the general education requirements. However, those without a science background may have to complete courses such as anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology as prerequisites for entering the accelerated BSN program.

Although the pool of accelerated training programs in nursing is increasing, this is still far from meeting the existing and future needs of the health care industry. There is a large excess of applicants for a limited number of training openings. Through a careful examination of previous course work and achievements, a resume detailing work experiences, a personal statement and a possible interview, the colleges will select the most promising candidates for these limited openings. They are looking for mature candidates who will thrive in the fast-paced program and who show promise of adapting to the changing and expanding role of nurses in the health scene of the future.

Accelerated Master’s of Science in Nursing Programs

Some non-nursing bachelor’s degree holders and those with a graduate degree will opt for a generic master’s degree in nursing. These programs are generally three years in length, with the first year covering basic nursing curricula and specialty courses provided in the second and third year. A graduate degree will open opportunities to become an administrator, educator, researcher or nurse practitioner providing primary care.

Outlook for Graduates of Accelerated Nursing Programs

The job outlook for Accelerated BSN graduates is very bright. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 19% growth between 2012 and 2022 in the number of jobs for registered nurses. In 2012, the median pay for registered nurses was $65,470 per year.

Complex changes in the health service field, such as an emphasis on preventive care, outpatient care centers, residential care facilities and home health care, find employers of nurses looking increasingly for Registered Nurses with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Many are discovering that the graduates from accelerated programs are excellent prospects for these new roles.

Related Resource: Become a Registered Nurse

Thus, the answer to the question, “What is an accelerated nursing degree?” can be given this answer: a pathway to rich opportunities in the nation’s changing health care scenario.