How Do Accelerated Nursing Programs Work?

Have you been looking into a career in nursing and wondering how an accelerated nursing program works? Between the student diversity, science-based prerequisites, and rigorous curriculum, accelerated nursing programs have a lot to offer. Here’s everything you need to know.

person looking at a drawing on the wall of a maze with a red arrow

A growing number of higher learning institutions are adding accelerated nursing programs to their education wheelhouses. These programs cater to students who already have some form of college education and want to make a quick transition into the nursing profession. So how do accelerated nursing programs work? And how do they change your life for the better in as few as 16 months? You’re about to find out.

Who enrolls in accelerated nursing programs?

Before diving into how accelerated nursing programs work, it helps to understand who enrolls in these types of programs.

Accelerated nursing students are recent college graduates, career changers, mothers, fathers and the like. They’re a melting pot of cultures, ages and academic backgrounds.

In terms of their academic background, it’s pretty common for students in an accelerated nursing program to have a background in biology, health sciences, kinesiology, psychology or public health. But that’s not to say individuals with business, communications or marketing degrees wouldn’t be able to apply and succeed in an accelerated nursing program.

Yet despite all of their differences, there are certain things accelerated nursing students have in common. They all have a previous college education, a solid grade point average and the motivation to earn a BSN as quickly as possible.

There’s no such thing as a typical accelerated nursing student.

three smiling nurses in different colored scrubs

What are accelerated nursing program prerequisites?

You’ll find that every accelerated nursing program has different prerequisite course requirements. However, it’s common for anatomy, chemistry, microbiology and physiology courses to show up on a school’s list of requirements.

These science-based prerequisite courses lay the foundation for success in an accelerated nursing program and are key to nursing career preparedness. Once students satisfy these prerequisites, they can begin professional nursing study on their first day in an accelerated nursing program.

What does accelerated nursing curriculum entail?

Accelerated BSN students receive the same nursing education as traditional BSN students. By leveraging an accelerated nursing student’s previous college education, he/she can jump into professional nursing study on the first day of class.

Once school begins, accelerated nursing students must complete a rigorous blend of fundamental coursework, nursing skills labs, nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations in diverse areas of practice.

To be blunt, being in an accelerated nursing program is like holding down a full-time job with required overtime. There are some weeks where students spend up to 60 hours on their studies just to keep pace. That’s why so many nursing schools advise their students not to work while in an accelerated program.

What does it take to be a successful nursing student?

As an accelerated nursing student, you’ll need to learn and retain a continuous whirlwind of new concepts and skills that increase in complexity with each passing semester. But don’t worry, if you’re dedicated, determined, self-reliant and organized, you can make it through nursing school unscathed. Also, remember to practice self-care along the way. A lot of students push this off and it eventually catches up with them.

What happens after an accelerated nursing program?

Once you graduate from nursing school, you must register for and pass the NCLEX-RN® exam to legally practice the profession. It’s an exam that every state uses to determine if it’s safe for a nursing graduate to practice as an entry-level nurse.

After earning your registered nurse credentials, the sky’s the limit. You can seek out employment in any number of inpatient and outpatient settings as well as pursue certification in a particular area of practice. You may even find yourself working in some unexpected places by choosing to become a travel nurse.

nurse walking outside with coffee

In addition to offering career diversity, nursing is a pretty fail-safe occupation given the current nursing shortage and the fact that the profession is growing at a steady pace. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates the profession will grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, which is about as fast as the average for all occupations.
And last but not least, nursing gives you the opportunity to make a decent living. As of May 2021, the BLS cited the median pay for registered nurses as $77,600 per year, with California, Hawaii, Oregon, the District of Columbia and Alaska being the top-paying states for this occupation.

What to look for in an accelerated nursing program?

Now that you know how accelerated nursing programs work, you have to figure out which one is the right fit for you. As mentioned earlier, accelerated nursing programs are popping up at schools across the country, but how do you know which one is right for you? And will you be able to get in?

Perhaps the following seven tips will help:

  1. Verify the program holds accreditation status with either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  2. Find out what the student retention rates are for the program. If several students are dropping out of the program, there could be some cause for concern.
  3. Check the program’s first-time NCLEX pass rates for the past few years. If the percentages are consistently below average, it could be a sign that there’s a problem with the curriculum or students aren’t getting the faculty support they need.
  4. Look for accelerated nursing programs with an online learning component and multiple start dates a year. These are the ones that tend to have the highest enrollment capacities.
  5. Apply to a program in a state where there is less student competition. In other words, steer clear of programs in California because student competition there is fierce.
  6. Consider programs at lesser-known schools. After all, some of the best-known schools receive as many as 400 applications per year but can only accommodate 100 students.
  7. Let us do the looking for you.

Find an accelerated nursing program that works for you.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a decent amount of college credits, we can connect you with accelerated nursing programs that align with your qualifications. Simply complete our online form. We offer this as a free service, and you are under no obligation to attend any of the schools that contact you.