Is An Accelerated BSN Program Right for You?
Many lives have been considerably altered since COVID-19 spread worldwide in 2020. Some are changing career paths to include nursing, either by choice or necessity. An accelerated bachelor’s in nursing (accelerated BSN) program may be a perfect fit for someone who already has a college degree and workforce experience.
What is a BSN Nurse?
A BSN Nurse is a college-prepared registered nurse, graduating with credits fulfilling a baccalaureate degree. This can be accomplished in a few different ways.
- Traditional in-person four-year Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program
- Associates or diploma certificate RN to BSN program
- Accelerated bachelors in nursing (ABSN) traditional program
- Accelerated BSN (ABSN) online program
Why a Bachelor's Degree?
Baccalaureate-prepared nurses are increasingly desired by employers, and some healthcare institutions are requiring the degree. Graduates of accelerated BSN programs are especially sought after as top-quality nurses, proven to be great critical thinkers, fast learners, and likely to be highly dedicated to their job. Most employers are eager to hire graduates of an accelerated bachelor's in nursing because they bring layers of education, professional maturity, and other work experience as new clinicians.
What is an Accelerated BSN Program?
An accelerated nursing program teaches the student the same BSN material as traditional nursing schools, but at a faster pace. This format is ideal for former bachelor’s degree graduates who are interested in nursing as a second degree. After meeting specific nursing prerequisites, students will typically complete the ABSN program in approximately twelve to sixteen months.
BSN curriculum incorporates a variety of liberal arts courses with professional education and training. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), a BSN program includes education on:
- Humanities and social sciences
- Basic science and psychology
- Psychology, sociology, and ethics
- Business, nurse leadership, and management
- Health promotion and family planning
- Mental health and psychiatric care
- Environmental and occupational health
- Adult and pediatric care
- Medical and surgical care
- Community health and home health care
Nursing schools will offer accelerated programs either in-person or online. ABSN online programs are typically more flexible and can be desirable for those managing other obligations.
Are Accelerated Programs Harder to Get Into?
The admission process is competitive because increased demand for nursing minimizes program availability. According to Inside Higher Ed , one-third of qualified applicants to BSN programs are rejected. One solution is to reach more students in less time through online programs, which may alleviate some of the disparity in program acceptance for a limited number of spots.
The American Nursing Association (ANA), found that high admission standards for BSN programs constitute a minimum of a 3.0 GPA, with some programs requiring an entry-level GPA as high as 3.5. Prospective students are finding admission into these programs increasingly difficult, even when exceeding these specifications.
Pre-screening processes are in place to ensure high-quality candidates are admitted to these competitive programs. Known for heavy credit loads and intense clinical experiences, accelerated students are under enormous pressure to learn complicated material in a shortened time frame. Schools aim for a high completion rate for each cohort, so some may require a personal essay or interview exploring individual dedication to learning and understanding of the program’s intensity.
How Difficult is an Accelerated Nursing Program?
Traditional nursing programs are generally known for their rigorous schedule and requirements Oftentimes, if a certain percentage of exams are not passed, the continuation of the program can be threatened.
This level of difficulty is compounded by the very nature of ABSN programs because the same objectives and clinical hours are accomplished in a shorter time frame . Because A BSN students have a previous learning experience, these programs are built with full-time courses and often without breaks between sessions.
To be successful, accelerated nursing students must:
- Be motivated and maintain a self-starter attitude
- Have a plan for self-care
- Build a support system
- Have excellent time management skills
Is it Possible to Work While Attending an Accelerated BSN Program?
The answer to this question is multifaceted and often varies for each individual. Many students find it difficult to balance work, home, and school while attending an accelerated nursing program. Attending an ABSN program is much like working a full-time job with overtime, making full-time employment nearly impossible. Prioritizing education means using good organizational skills and a strong support system if employment cannot be completely suspended while attending school.
It’s important to consider how in-person clinical rotations will affect employment. Many times a student’s schedule must revolve around nursing program requirements. It may be challenging to schedule work and still follow through with required time commitments to complete the program. This is especially true when clinical hours are assigned.
While accelerated nursing programs are intense and require an enormous amount of time, ABSN online programs can offer more flexibility compared to traditional programs. Some online requirements allow for schoolwork completion during a time frame, while others are more specific to the day and time. It will be important to remain flexible with other life obligations while attending an ABSN program.
To relieve the burden of working while learning, consider student loans or other means of income while completing an accelerated bachelors in nursing. Many students can complete these courses within a shorter time frame if focus can be prioritized on schoolwork requirements.
Nurses who graduate from an accelerated BSN program can earn an annual wage of $75,330 per year when starting their first job. Completing a BSN program at an accelerated rate may allow the nurse to start payments of student loan debts sooner when compared to traditional BSN graduates. Some healthcare systems will also provide student loan relief as part of terms for hire.
Why An ABSN Program Is Worth It
ABSN graduates will be well-prepared nurses, rewarded with good wages, and many other benefits. Graduating from an ABSN program can prove to be worth your time and energy.
- ABSN online programs provide a highly sought-after degree in a short time frame, allowing the nurse to enter a desirable workforce sooner than with traditional programs.
- ABSN prepared nurses are sought-after by employers, increasing their chance for hire.
- Nurses generally feel a sense of accomplishment and job satisfaction by helping others on their path to healing and well-being.
- Nursing fields range widely; it’s easy to explore areas of nursing that fit any lifestyle, interests, and desired work schedule.
- RN employment rates are expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, giving nurses more opportunities to work in their desired field with career advancement.
- BSNs have more clinical advancement opportunities to positions of leadership, education, consulting, and research when compared to diploma or associates degree graduates.
- BSN nurses are well prepared for continuing education opportunities, including a graduate degree in nursing. Some choose to follow an educational path to become an advanced practice nurse, earning a median pay of $117,670 annually.
ABSN Nurses Can Positively Impact Nursing Shortages
The pandemic has emphasized the need for qualified, compassionate nurses. Many factors, including the impact of COVID-19, have compounded an already critical nursing shortage. These shortages have put the lives and safety of the general public at risk. As many as 1.2 million nurses will be needed to meet the current shortage needs projected for 2030, according to the University of St. Augustine for Health Science .
Nurses have always been on the front lines helping thousands of people heal and regain strength after illness or injury. Accelerated nursing programs can put nurses into the workforce in as little as 12 months, helping to fill the gap of these bedside vacancies.
If you’re considering an ABSN check out one of our Featured ABSN Programs to find the one that is right for you.
About the Author
Brenda Montoya is a freelance health writer who also specializes in labor and delivery nursing. She is a rare native of Denver, Colorado. When she’s not living her writing passion or catching babies, you can find her playing along with her three sons or catching up on her favorite novel.