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Overview of Accelerated Registered Nurse (RN) Programs

With the graying of baby boomers, the demand for registered nurses and other healthcare providers is escalating. For individuals looking at a career switch or going back to work after being out of the job market for an extended period, becoming a registered nurse (RN) might be an excellent choice. Accelerated RN programs are one option to obtain the required training.

The Job Outlook for Registered Nurses (RNs)

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for RNs in May 2012 was $65,470 a year, or $31.48 per hour. During the same year, there were 2,711,500 registered nurses employed. The BLS projects that by 2022; there will be a need for 526,800 more RNs, a higher-than-average growth rate among U.S. occupations. RNs can work in a variety of settings: hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing care facilities, home healthcare facilities, summer camps, military settings, schools and correctional facilities.

Why Accelerated RN Programs Exist

The traditional route to becoming a registered nurse requires at least an associate’s degree. Some prospective nurses opt to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Those interested in teaching often go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

BSN programs have been highly competitive for years. Due to the increasing demand for RNs, nursing schools are looking for creative ways to train more students. One of the most popular is an accelerated program.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) indicates that an accelerated program is the fastest path to becoming licensed as an RN for individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s or a graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Accelerated programs are available to earn a BSN or an MSN.

Registered Nurse Program Basics

For students with a bachelor’s degree, AACN says the typical accelerated RN program lasts 12 to 18 months. Master’s degrees, also tailored to non-nursing graduates, can take up to three years. Students complete BSN work as part of their MSN program. During the first year, they take bachelor-level nursing courses. Graduate courses make up the curriculum for the last two years, according to AACN. In 2011, more than 14,000 students were enrolled in these types of programs.

Accelerated nursing programs are available in 43 states, the District of Columbia and Guam. In 2011, nursing schools offered 235 baccalaureate programs and 63 master’s programs. AACN list accelerated programs on their website.

The basis of accelerated RN programs is accomplishing program goals quickly by building on prior learning experiences. Instruction is intense, and students receive the same number of clinic hours as those in traditional nursing programs.

Compared to entry-level nursing students, the typical accelerated student is older, is more motivated and has higher academic expectations. Most are eager to participate in clinical training. Faculty members describe them as highly competitive. AACN reports that they nearly always pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), the first time they take it.

Admission Standards for RNs

Most programs require at least a 3.0 grade point average and a detailed pre-screening progress. Nursing schools review applicants’ transcripts to determine which courses (usually liberal arts) they don’t need to take and how many prerequisite courses will be required. Students with degrees in arts or social sciences must usually complete prerequisite science courses like anatomy and microbiology. Typically, these classes are available before the start of the regular academic term.

Applicants for master’s degrees tend to have varied academic and employment backgrounds, among them are attorneys and horticulturists.

The Down Side of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Like any opportunity, accelerated nursing programs have some challenges that prospective applicants should consider, according to NurseTogether.

•They’re intense. Most baccalaureate programs take 12 to 18 months to complete. Usually, there are no breaks in between academic terms.

•The school might require prerequisites. Students with a degree that isn’t related to a science typically have to complete any prerequisites before enrolling in the RN program.

•The programs are extremely competitive. Some schools require more than a 3.0 grade point average. Lots of applicants have it.

•Money is sometimes a problem. While some employers – particularly hospitals – fund this type of training in order to have a pool of prospective employees, in general, financial aid is scarce. Due to the nature of the instruction and clinical experience requirements, going to school is a full-time effort.

Despite the high level of commitment required, accelerated RN programs remain a great option for many who want to change careers or re-enter the workforce as a nurse.

Nursing Scholarships

American Assembly for Men in Nursing (AAMN) American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing Gallagher Student Health Careers Scholarship
The Gates Millenium Scholars (GMS) National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) National Student Nurses’ Association (NSNA)
New Careers in Nursing (NCIN) Nurse Corps Scholarship (NCS) Nurses of Tomorrow
Nursing Economics Foundation Tylenol Future Care Scholarship American Holistic Nurses Association

Fortis Institute

Fortis Nursing Program

Programs:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Practical Nursing
  • PN RN Associate Degree Bridge Program
  • And more...

Colorado Technical University Online

Specialized, industry-current degree programs in Health Administration Services, Healthcare Management and Nursing.

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Administration
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
  • Master of Science in Nursing - Nursing Education

Grand Canyon University

Why earn your degree at Grand Canyon University? GCU is a regionally accredited university offering graduate and undergraduate degrees in Business, Nursing, Psychology, Education & more. Apply today!

Programs:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice with an Emphasis in Educational Leadership
  • B.S. in Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to B.S.N)
  • M.S. in Nursing: Health Care Informatics (Bridge)
  • And more...

South University

Several nursing programs are available at the bachelor's, post-graduate, master's, and doctoral levels.

Programs:

  • Nursing (BS)

Kaplan University

Kaplan University is focused on recognizing the achievements of military and veteran students and offers the flexibility of an online education.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science - DNP Path (Doctor of Nursing Practice)
  • Master of Science in Nursing-Family Nurse Practitioner
  • And more...

Liberty University

100% Online & No Standardized Testing

Programs:

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nursing Administration
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • BS in Nursing (RN to BSN)

West Coast University

Advance your career. 100% Focused on Health Sciences.

Programs:

  • MSN - Informatics (Online)
  • MSN – Advanced Generalist (Online)
  • RN to MSN - Advanced Generalist (Online)
  • And more...

Jacksonville University

The University

With over 80 years of academic achievements, Jacksonville University is a traditional, longstanding institution consistently ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of America's best colleges.

Programs:

  • MSN Clinical Nurse Educator
  • RN to BSN (licensed RNs only)
  • RN to MSN in Clinical Nurse Educator
  • And more...

Centura College

Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida.

Programs:

  • Practical Nursing Diploma
  • Associate of Occupational Science Degree in Medical Assisting-Clinical Concentration

South University

As a student at South University, you will have the opportunity to learn from accomplished faculty members who have real-world experience in the subjects that they teach. Our small class sizes allow you to receive personalized attention from instructors, and the encouragement to recognize your goals for the future and the means to achieve them.

Programs:

  • Nursing (BS)
  • Nursing (RN to BSN)

Northcentral University

Earn your graduate degree online with Northcentral University.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Education - Nursing Education

Abilene Christian University

Abilene Christian University is a national leader in Christian higher education and a place where students, faculty, staff and alumni make a real difference in the world.

Programs:

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice

Kaplan University - KHE

At Kaplan University, we offer over 180 degree and certificate programs.

Programs:

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing : Executive Leader
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate
  • And more...

Medical Careers Institute

Start a great career in healthcare with Medical Careers Institute.

Programs:

  • Nursing (RN-BSN) - Bachelor's
  • Nursing - Master's

South University, Online Programs

Designed with the needs of working adult students in mind, South University, Online Programs is built on the similar curriculum offered at South University's campus locations. As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

Programs:

  • Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner (RN-MSN)
  • RN to Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (RN-MSN)
  • And more...

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