Are you ready to change your life in one year?
If you’ve made the life-altering decision to become a registered nurse, you’ve chosen a dynamic and unique profession with many opportunities for growth. The good news is that you don't have to start your life over. Believe it or not, the non-nursing bachelor's degree you already possess can help you take the quickest route available to becoming a registered nurse.
As an adult learner in an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, your professional success relies on your preparation. Accelerated programs are intense but will prepare you with the knowledge and experience needed to quickly begin your nursing career. To make sure you understand the requirements and expectations of an accelerated BSN program, let’s dive into what ‘accelerated’ really means.
What is an Accelerated 2nd Degree BSN Program?
At Thomas Edison State University, our accelerated nursing program is an intense, 12-month, full-time BSN program designed for adults who already possess a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, and are interested in becoming registered nurses. It involves completing 60-credits of professional nursing courses through a combination of online and on-ground classes, and intensive clinical experiences. Intended to be completed in a shorter amount of time than traditional four-year programs, an accelerated program is extremely demanding physically, mentally and emotionally.
After graduating from a program, you’ll be able to meet several BSN outcomes. It will also prepare you to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN) in any state. After successfully passing the exam, you will be entitled to apply for RN licensure.
What an accelerated BSN program isn’t: Easy. Or clean. It’s not like traditional nursing school. Many adult students struggle with transitioning back to the undergraduate life, let alone the program’s compressed and fast-tracked atmosphere, even for just 12 months. If you felt your undergraduate courses were a breeze, and you’re ready to handle that all over - think again. A nursing program is tough; an accelerated nursing program is downright taxing.
If thick skin, compassion, drive and helping others doesn’t sound like you, you may have some problems. Scratch the excuses, reasoning or rationalizing and be prepared to get your hands dirty.
Who is the ideal candidate?
Admission to these programs are highly competitive, and candidates are accepted based upon a critical evaluation of their application submission and predicted success in the program. The most successful students are bright, independent critical-thinkers who are eager to excel and reach their career goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Since there are all sorts of people involved in nursing, students must be self-motivated, proactive, able to balance it all and feel comfortable in new situations.
Students come from a wide variety of impressive backgrounds; some are accountants or fine arts majors. Others are already in the healthcare profession as nurse aides or speech therapists. But it’s their past experiences and prior learning that will enrich their future nursing career.
What differentiates an accelerated nursing program from a traditional or part-time BSN program?
Compared with a 4-year traditional program or a 2-year part-time program, an accelerated nursing program only takes one year. Outside employment while pursuing an accelerated nursing degree is not recommended due to the full-time course load and clinical experiences. An accelerated program presents distinct challenges in two important ways.
First, courses combine an on-ground and online course format, while the clinical portion requires you to perform in a highly stressful, direct patient care environment two days per week. For example, Thomas Edison State University’s program involves a 4-day schedule that fulfills the 60-credit nursing requirement students need to earn a BSN degree: 35 credits of classroom-based courses (including clinical) and 25 credits of online nursing courses. There are no scheduled Friday classes or clinicals. And there are no breaks between sessions.
Each week, students spend two, 10-hour days at a hospital facility and receive the same number of clinical hours as students in traditional programs. For another two days per week, students take classroom-based courses at the University’s campus in Trenton, New Jersey, in our state-of-the-art simulation laboratory. The remaining time is spent taking online courses, completing course work when and where convenient, but within the timetable of the course. Because of the flexibility of online courses, students must be able to keep themselves on track.
Second, accelerated programs cater to the mature adult learner eager and motivated to start a career in nursing as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thomas Edison State University’s nursing courses are offered in four 12-week terms, so a typical week in the program includes reading several chapters to prepare for one or more course exams, clinical requirements and other assignments. Students are required to pass a subject matter HESI exam in all classroom-based clinical theory courses to progress to the next term.
Since everyone learns differently and at a varying pace, online courses provide the flexibility adult students need to balance classroom-based courses. Students are encouraged to challenge instructors and ask questions.
Only 40 students are accepted into the University’s two programs each year, so class sizes remain personalized and intensive. This class, called a cohort, is comprised of a group of students who work closely together supporting, helping and motivating each other to succeed toward a common goal.
What happens after graduation?
Nursing is a continuously growing and evolving field. Your passion and continued training will avail you many new and exciting opportunities in your career. But in the end, it’s about the patients and it all begins with your first steps after graduation.
1. You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam. After graduating from an accelerated nursing program, students are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), which will allow the student to practice as a registered nurse. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the New Jersey State Board of Nursing or the state in which one plans to take the NCLEX-RN via the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, prior to enrolling in a nursing school.
2. Your nursing career begins. Nurse employers value the skills and education that graduates of accelerated BSN programs bring to the workplace. Employers report that these graduates are more mature, possess strong clinical skills and are quick studies on the job. Graduates are valued for the wealth of knowledge, compassion and professionalism they bring to their jobs, and often recognized for their strong academic successes and keen leadership skills.
3. Pursue a master’s degree. Graduates of the University’s program receive 6 graduate nursing credits included in the BSN degree requirements, accepted as transfer credit upon admission to the MSN program. After earning the BSN degree and successfully passing the NCLEX-RN, students are eligible to apply to the nursing informatics, nurse education or nursing administration MSN program.
Written by Thomas Edison State University