A Simple Guide to Accelerated Nursing Programs

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Overview of the Accelerated Programs

Accelerated nursing programs are one of the solutions that nursing schools have come up with to try and solve the severe shortage in the USA. Although the programs are not a silver bullet that will make the problem disappear, they have proven to be more successful than most other measures that the federal government and individual states have taken to reduce the nurse shortage. The effectiveness of the accelerated programs comes from a very simple reasoning or logic that is to increase the number of graduate nurses by speeding up the training process.

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Hundreds of nursing schools in the USA have these programs. These schools are spread across 46 states, and this shows that students that want to enroll can find a school in all but a few states. And although these programs will train a nurse in an average of 15 months (which is a fraction of what the traditional BSN would take) the same standards of training are maintained. A student will cover everything that they would in the regular programs, and they will also be required to attain all the necessary clinical practice hours to graduate and qualify to be nurses. This just shows that acceleration only speeds up the process so as to provide more nurses while still maintaining the high-quality training.

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Advantages/Benefits of This Mode of Nurse Training

  • The greatest benefit of this program is that it only takes a fraction of the time that a four-year nursing course would take. This is beneficial to both the student and also the healthcare sector that has been facing a nurse shortage for many years now.
  • They offer a flexible mode of learning for students since most schools have different options to choose from with the classes. You can choose evening classes, daytime, and afternoon or even weekend only for some schools.
  • Accelerated programs have proven to be the most efficient way of solving the nurse shortage crisis in the 46 states that it has been used. Although the shortage is still there and probably still rising, things are slowly improving and in future, the deficit will go down as more students continue to embrace this method of training.
  • According to NCLEX statistics, these programs have a higher pass rate than the regular ones in most schools. Due to the nature of the course students are more dedicated and also tend to read more since they have limited time and there are also no breaks between sessions. This means that it produces better-qualified nurses.

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How to Find the Best Schools/Programs

Due to the convenience and speed of learning offered by these programs, there are now more nursing schools that have them and new ones are still coming up. For a student, it might not be easy to choose between the many schools, but you should consider the following for this to be easier for you.

  • Consider the duration that the nursing school has been offering the program as it will tell a lot about their capabilities. Ideally, you should go to a school that has not only been training nurses for many years but one that has been offering this particular program for some time. As with all the other programs the longer the school has had it, the better it is for your training.
  • The pass rate and completion rate are also critical, and you can easily find this information online on nursing websites and others. A high completion rate shows that the program is designed to offer maximum convenience and flexibility even for students that are also engaged in other activities such as work.
  • You should also consider the cost of training in your quest to get the best school. Although nurse training programs are not cheap, any school that you chose should have reasonable fees. It is, however, important not to compromise on the quality of training that you get so as to save some money especially given the fact that you will only have a few months to get all the knowledge required.
  • A good school should also be conveniently located especially because most people take this program as a second degree. Here you have to juggle between work and school and so it should be easily accessible so that you will not have to miss or go to class late.
  • To make sure that you do not have problems in your career, especially when registering as a nurse you should only choose a college that is accredited. The institution should have a program that is accredited by CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) or (NLNAC) National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission.

Admission Requirements

Whereas the admission requirements may vary from one school to the other due to difference in internal policies there are some things and conditions you must fulfill to be admitted to most nursing schools in the USA. One of these requirements is that the student must have completed a bachelor’s degree in an accredited US college/university or an international equivalent to this. He or she must also have a cumulative GPA of a minimum of 3.2 when measured on a scale of 4.0. Most schools will also require that the student not to have failed in any nursing course or discontinued from one due to academic reasons. Apart from these, the other admission requirements will depend on the specific school that you want to enroll.

Will the Accelerated Program Cost More?

The accelerated nursing programs are very intensive. The fact that they take less time leads people into thinking that they are way more expensive than the regular BSN programs. This is one of the primary reasons why some people keep away from them. However, they are not necessarily expensive than the conventional mode of study. Considering that you will be out in the job market with a license to practice nursing a year or two earlier it is worth the extra cost. It is also a complicated program to offer logistically for colleges, and so they will charge more.

Even if the difference is not that big for most institutions, the fact that there are no breaks between semesters means that you have to pay more money within a short time. And this may make the accelerated option look more expensive than regular training. Overall the cost of the program will depend on the particular university and whether you are going to a public or private school. And so this means that the college or university that you choose for your course will influence more what you pay than the method of study that you wish to take.

Curriculum for Accelerated Nursing Programs

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Contrary to what some people may think the curriculum is similar to what you would get in a regular BSN. The fact that it takes a shorter time may mislead you into thinking that there is a unique curriculum with different courses for students who choose the accelerated option, but this is not true. The only difference with the conventional mode of study is that it will take a shorter time, but everything that is studied is the same.

Different schools may give the items on their curriculum different names and codes, but the concepts covered are the same. When taking this course, a student should expect to cover basics such as introduction to nursing and nursing practice fundamentals. As they advance through the course or in the late stages of the program areas like Evidence-Based Nursing, Healthcare Policy and Leadership and Management in Nursing will also be covered. Overall the curriculum will cover all the areas of study that are required for a qualified nurse to be registered and licensed to practice in the US

Online Accelerated BSN Programs

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In the world of today the internet cannot be ignored when it comes to learning and as it has become a part of life most schools have an option for students to take their course online. Nursing is one of the courses that have embraced the internet, and so the leading schools offer some of their courses online. However, due to the nature of the course, it is impossible to have it wholly online like other courses as there are also some essential clinical practices required for one to qualify as a nurse.

A student can have most of the theory part of the course online without having to attend physical classes. This convenience has seen the number of students enrolling for the accelerated online nursing program surge over the years. Reputable schools like the University of Texas, Indiana State University and the University of Wisconsin have accelerated online programs for nursing students.

Support for Students Undertaking the Program

Financial aid for students who want to take the accelerated program at a baccalaureate or even master level is limited. Whether it is because this course is not considered among the regular programs or because it has not been around for long the common sources of student aid in the form of grants and scholarships don’t seem to be interested. However, more hospitals and other healthcare institution have discovered that this can be an answer to their nurse shortages, and so they have put in place measures to give aid to students. And so currently the most reliable source of student aid for these courses is hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

Nursing organizations are also nonpartisan with the mode of study, and so they are also an excellent source of financial aid in grants and scholarships. Although there are not many options currently available, this will undoubtedly change as the government and other stakeholders continue to discover that this program is a very effective way to deal with the nurse shortage in most states in the USA.

Job Outlook and Salary for Registered Nurse

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Before enrolling for any course, it is important to understand what the job outlook is like and nursing is not an exception. If you take the accelerated option, you should be ready to work as a nurse in 15 or so months, and so this makes understanding the job outlook, even more, important. According to reliable data from the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), there will be a demand for close to 600,000 new and replacement nurses in the US by 2018 and this number will hit the one million mark by the year 2020. This merely shows that there are many employment opportunities for nurses and so after your 15 months of training work will almost be a guaranteed. What is even encouraging is that most nurses in the US do not have to look for a job for more than a couple of months upon graduation or when changing employment.

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The salary, on the other hand, is also very attractive, especially when compared to other professions. The average nurse salary in America is $67,000 per year which means that they earn at least $30 per hour. This is higher than the national average, and so a career as a nurse pays much better than others. However, it is important to note that what you will earn will depend on your level of qualification and experience. With an accelerated training you will be through with the studies fast, and so you can advance further or start building experience to secure a better job in future.

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Conclusion

In the last couple of decades, there has been a lot of effort to deal with the nurse shortages and the accelerated nursing programs have proved to be more efficient. Apart from this, it also helps a nurse start their career in just a few months rather than spending many years in school. As the benefits of this program continue to become evident, its popularity will also continue to increase, and it will probably be the most common mode of study for a BSN in the future.

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