Under normal circumstances, it takes 18 months to two years to become a registered nurse (RN) through the traditional nursing school route. The average bachelor’s degree program can take four years. If you have a high school diploma and a credentialed background, one year of study is generally enough for RNs with an associate’s degree.
However, what if you need something even faster? Is that even possible?
How to Get Into Nursing Faster by Joining an Accelerated Nursing Program?
Accelerated Nursing Program that give students direct access to professional-level jobs typically take 12 months or less—and they usually offer full financial support through tuition assistance, scholarships, and grants for living expenses.
Some programs may also upgrade your high school diploma or give you college credits from previous coursework.
Can’t find the time to learn everything you need in one year? If a 12-month accelerated program appeals to you and gives you all the benefits of traditional nursing school while cutting the time commitment short by more than half (from 2 years), consider enrolling in a diploma or associate’s degree program with a “fast track” option.
Why You Should Consider Joining an Accelerated Nursing Program?
You Want to Get a Nursing Job Quickly— And Have a Head Start on Traditional Programs
If you are out of school, behind on your income goals, or just want to cut down the amount of time it takes you to get a professional-level nursing job, accelerated programs take 12 months or fewer and can get you hired even sooner than traditional programs.
You Need Financial Aid in Order To Prepare for Your Career as a Registered Nurse (RN)
If you are having trouble getting help from an employer or need more financial aid in order to pay for college, accelerated nursing programs offer financial assistance from multiple sources and can help secure scholarships that make higher education more affordable.
You Want To Use Your Previous Nursing Education to Be Successful on the Job
The faster you can get into a program, the more nursing experience you will have upon graduation and the better prepared you are to earn your RN license.
You Want to Earn Your RN License Faster (and save time, money, and effort)
The average traditional nursing school takes two years to complete, while accelerated programs can take only 12 months or less.
Why not save time and money from day one?
You Want a Career You Love and Can Last More Than 15 Years
A traditional nursing school education is expensive, and you will spend 12-18 months learning to do something you may not love. On the other hand, if you are enrolled in an accelerated program that offers a diploma or associate’s degree—with independent study, hands-on practice, clinical exposure, and unrestricted access to the online program during school hours—you can earn your RN licensure in a significantly shorter timeframe than normal.
What are the Advantages of an Accelerated Nursing Program?
If you’re thinking of joining one of the many online ABSN programs available, it’s a good idea to consider the advantages of your chosen course that may sway your decision to opt for this type of course.
Financial Aid and Scholarships to Help You Pay for Your Nursing Education: Many accelerated nursing programs provide financial assistance from multiple sources, including tuition assistance, scholarships, and grants for living expenses to help you cover the cost of your nursing degree or program.
Financial Assistance for Continuing Education After You Graduate: If you need money for continuing education after you graduate (to stay up-to-date on the latest in medical practices), some accelerated nursing programs offer follow-up funding or advanced standing through a mentor program to help you pay for CEUs and continuing education credits in nursing.
Accelerated Schedules in a Traditional Nursing Program: Many accelerated programs offer accelerated schedules with complete instruction, independent study, and hands-on experience that allows you to earn your nursing degree or RN license much faster than through normal routes.
Flexibility and Ease of College Classes Outside of Class Hours: If you are a busy person who cannot find time to attend lectures outside of class hours during weekdays, accelerated nursing programs give you the flexibility to take college classes in your spare time whenever you have time to spare.
Self-Discovery and the Gift of Time to Learn—with Your Own Schedule: In most accelerated nursing programs, you schedule your classes according to your own needs, not the needs of other students and professors.
You will have ample time to study independently and work on your assignments and practice exams.
Hands-On Experiences with Real Patients in a Typical Nursing Program: Accelerated nursing programs often allow you to shadow experienced nurses in regular practice settings, work alongside them using real patient cases that are common enough to allow a more accurate representation of real medical situations than what may be seen in classes taught outside of class hours.
Things to Consider About An Accelerated Nursing Program
Considering all the advantages may leave you feeling this is the best route for you. However, there are things you need to consider just like you would any other program. This includes the following points:
There may be limited opportunities to gain patient experience outside of class time: If you are a busy person who does not have time to shadow nurses in regular practice settings, participation in nursing education outside of class time is limited in accelerated programs.
Your program may not be complementary to your industry or career goals: If your career or interest is in a different area of nursing, it may not be complementary to studying in an accelerated nursing program.
You may not get real-life experience required to pass the NREMT: Accelerated programs usually allow you to go through faster track experiences with real patients and provide the technical skills required to pass the National Registry, which is required in order to take the NREMT exam.
How To Prepare Yourself For Your Nursing Program?
The best way to begin your accelerated nursing program is by sharing your plan with your family and friends. This will help you overcome any fears you may have about the program and help you make the right decision. Here are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for a faster path to passing the NCLEX and getting your RN license.
Improve Your Schedule
Take out time from your schedule to study independently during non-class hours, especially on the weekends and holidays. Try studying in a library or bookstore at night when there’s less traffic or outside in an area with good lighting conditions.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Get extra rest and eat healthy during class and study hours. Sleep deprivation affects the long-term health of your mind, so try to get a good night’s rest before you sit for your classes. You may also find that you need more sleep to keep up with your studying schedule, so consider working with a registered dietitian to develop and follow a healthy eating plan.
Get the Right Support for Your Needs and Strengths
Find support from friends, teachers, and mentors who can encourage you and help you along the way. If you can cultivate a good attitude by setting goals for yourself, being confident that you can achieve them, and believing in yourself when things get tough, you should succeed.
Many nursing students feel overwhelmed by the pressure of getting into an accelerated nursing program. This pressure is even more intense when they decide to raise their own funds. However, if you are honest with yourself and set goals based on your situation and the needs of your family, friends, or employer, you can gain the extra time needed to earn a degree in nursing.
If you are not happy with your nursing program now, know that there is a way out of the program without having to drop out.
It takes time for all students to settle into their new environment, and this process can be slower for those who are making adjustments after transferring from another university or from another country.
What it Takes to Become a Nurse in The USA
Becoming a nurse in the USA is a challenging process. Here are some of the most important steps you can take to prepare yourself for this career.
Take The NCLEX
The first step to becoming a nurse in the USA is to take and pass the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination for Nurses). The NCLEX is a required step before you can register with the state boards of nursing, and many employers will not hire you without it.
You will also need to pass the NCLEX if you want to work in Canada, where there are stricter requirements than in the US.
Note: There are no guarantees on passing the NCLEX. You may encounter difficulties passing the NCLEX, and there is no guarantee that you will pass. Hard work will be required if you want to pass.
Become Licensed by The State Board of Nursing Of Your Choice
To become a registered nurse in any state after taking and passing the NCLEX, you will need to become licensed by that state’s board of nursing. States vary in what type of educational requirements they need from you before they allow you to take the licensing exam.
Not all states require that you have graduated, but nearly all require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. To become licensed by the state board of nursing, you will need to pass their certification exam, which is different in every state.
If you have not graduated from a nursing school accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC), you will need to become eligible for licensure by completing an approved course of study and passing one of the examinations offered to nurse graduates by the Committee on Accreditation for Emergency Nursing Education (COAEN).
Should You Take an Accelerated Professional Nurse Program?
Getting a license to practice nursing in the USA is one of the most important steps in your career. Most hospitals and large health care facilities require their employees to be licensed nurses before they will hire them. It is also a requirement for most nursing positions that are based outside of hospitals, such as clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, home health nurses, and school nurses.
Unfortunately, there is no way around this requirement if you want to work as an RN in the US or Canada.
There are several ways to become a nurse in the US, however, including enrolling in an accelerated professional nursing program. Accelerated programs do not always take less time than traditional programs, and they generally require you to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing first. It is up to you to decide whether an accelerated program is right for you and your needs.
Is This Path for Me?
This is a very good question and one you will have to answer for yourself. Choosing your path of education is an important decision and one that will affect your career for many years to come.
Taking some time to think about your situation and the needs of your family and employer will help you make the right decision.
Are You Ready To Make The Commitment?
Traditional nursing programs require that you spend between two and four years in school, depending on whether or not you attend a community college first. This means that, under normal circumstances, it would take around five years for most people to complete their nursing degree without taking any breaks along the way.
If you have considered all of these things and believe a degree program is right for you, then be sure to research the schools that are available. This will give you a better idea of what you can expect when it comes time to enroll and which education options could work best for your situation.
When deciding which college is best for you, remember that there is no single path that leads to becoming a nurse. If you do not find the right school, or if you decide the program is not right for your needs, talk to an advisor at your school about how an alternative program could work for you.