It’s never too late to fulfill your dream of becoming a nurse! If you’re in another field but wish to transition to nursing, then an accelerated nursing program is for you. You will get your degree in hand in less than half the time taken by traditional nursing programs and you’ll be ready to hit the ground running.

If this sounds like music to your ears, then read along as we uncover all the details about accelerated nursing programs in this blog. 

Accelerated nursing programs are designed for students who have a degree in a field other than nursing but want to transition to nursing. Through an accelerated nursing program, you will be able to complete your nursing degree in a shorter duration, but be ready for some rigorous coursework. The main types of accelerated nursing programs are an accelerated bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) and an accelerated master’s of science in nursing (MSN).

There is a growing shortage of nurses across the United States. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that the demand for registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow by 6% over the next decade. This shortage is also one of the reasons why these accelerated nursing programs become important. If you are eager to join the profession of nursing, then there is no better time than now. 

An accelerated BSN degree is one option for you if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. The duration of this program is about 15 to 18 months. This program will include the fundamental knowledge you need to begin as a nurse along with clinical rotations so that you can get enough experience in real-world settings. Your program will equip you with the knowledge and critical thinking skills you need to make decisions and support positive patient outcomes. 

Your accelerated BSN degree will replicate the traditional nursing degree as closely as possible. But because there is just so much to learn, you will have to be prepared to have a demanding learning schedule with a shorter period of time to learn new concepts. Your nursing program may suggest that you refrain from working while studying due to the academic rigor. 

With that being said, if you are truly interested in and dedicated to the field of nursing, with some hard work, you should be able to get the most out of your accelerated program. 

At the end of your accelerated BSN program, you will be ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to get your RN licensure. 

Related: How to Become a Labor and Delivery Nurse?

Before you begin your accelerated BSN program, you will need to complete certain courses that will help you build a foundational understanding of the field of nursing. The list of prerequisite courses may vary across universities so check the website of your preferred university to know what courses you are required to take before you start your BSN classes. You can take the required courses at any accredited institution. 

If your undergraduate degree didn’t include certain subjects, you might have to take them before you start your BSN coursework. Here is a general idea of what the prerequisite courses might include:

1. English/Communication:

In this course, you will enhance your language proficiency and communication skills. You will learn to express yourself eloquently in both written and verbal forms, mastering techniques for effective communication in various contexts, from academic essays to professional presentations.

2. Mathematics:

This course will deepen your understanding of mathematical concepts and their applications. You will learn problem-solving strategies and analytical thinking skills that are essential for tackling real-world challenges. From algebra to calculus, you will build a strong foundation in mathematical principles.

3. Statistics:

In this course, you will delve into the world of data analysis and interpretation. You will learn how to collect, organize, and analyze data using statistical methods and software tools. From probability theory to hypothesis testing, you will gain valuable insights into making informed decisions based on data.

4. Biology:

This course will introduce you to the fascinating study of living organisms and their interactions with the environment. You will learn about the structure, function, and evolution of biological systems, from cells to ecosystems. Through hands-on experiments and observations, you will explore the diversity of life on Earth.

5. Chemistry:

In this course, you will uncover the principles governing matter and its transformations. You will learn about the structure of atoms, chemical bonding, and the behavior of elements and compounds. Through laboratory experiments and theoretical exercises, you will develop a deep understanding of chemical phenomena.

6. Microbiology:

Taking this course will immerse you in the world of microorganisms and their impact on human health and the environment. You will learn about the diversity, structure, and function of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes. Through laboratory work and case studies, you will explore the role of microbiology in medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology.

7. Nutrition:

Here, you will discover the science behind food and its effects on human health. You will learn about the essential nutrients, dietary requirements, and metabolic processes involved in nutrition. Through practical demonstrations and dietary analysis, you will gain insights into making informed choices for a balanced diet.

8. Anatomy and Physiology:

This course will take you on a journey through the structure and function of the human body. You will learn about the organization of tissues, organs, and organ systems, and how they work together to maintain homeostasis. Through anatomical dissections and physiological experiments, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of human anatomy and physiology.

9. History:

In this course, you will explore human experiences across time and space. You will learn about key events, movements, and civilizations that have shaped the world we live in today. Through critical analysis and historical interpretation, you will uncover the complexities of the past and their relevance to the present.

10. Psychology:

This course will introduce you to the fascinating study of the human mind and behavior. You will learn about various psychological theories, research methods, and practical applications in areas such as cognition, emotion, development, and social interaction. Through case studies and experiments, you will gain insights into the complexities of human psychology and how it influences our everyday lives.

The classes you will take in your accelerated BSN will prepare you thoroughly for the nursing profession. The courses you will take differ across universities but here is a general overview of the courses you can expect to take:

1. Foundation of Nursing Practice:

This course provides an introduction to the fundamental principles and concepts of nursing practice. You will learn about the roles and responsibilities of nurses, communication skills, patient assessment techniques, and the nursing process. Through theoretical instruction and hands-on practice, you will develop the foundational knowledge and skills necessary for delivering high-quality patient care.

2. Pharmacology in Collaboration with Nursing:

You will study the principles of pharmacology and their application to nursing practice. You will learn about drug classifications, mechanisms of action, therapeutic uses, side effects, and nursing implications. Emphasis will be placed on safe medication administration, dosage calculations, and patient education regarding medications.

3. Pathophysiology:

Here you will learn the physiological basis of disease processes across the lifespan. You will study the underlying mechanisms of various health conditions and their effects on the structure and function of the human body. Through a comprehensive understanding of pathophysiology, you will be better equipped to assess, diagnose, and manage patients with diverse health challenges.

4. Evidence-Based Nursing Practice:

This course focuses on the integration of research evidence into clinical decision-making and nursing practice. You will learn how to critically appraise research studies, apply evidence-based guidelines and protocols, and evaluate outcomes to improve patient care. Through case studies and scholarly inquiry, you will develop the skills necessary to deliver evidence-based care that aligns with best practices and current standards.

5. Adult Nursing:

This course concentrates on the nursing care of adult patients across various healthcare settings. You will learn about common health conditions affecting adults, including acute and chronic illnesses, injuries, and preventive care measures. Through theoretical instruction and clinical experiences, you will develop proficiency in assessing, planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing interventions to promote optimal health outcomes for adult patients.

6. Ethics and Policy:

This course examines the ethical and legal considerations inherent in nursing practice. You will explore ethical dilemmas, professional standards of conduct, patient rights, confidentiality, and legal regulations governing healthcare delivery. Through case studies and discussions, you will develop ethical reasoning skills and an understanding of healthcare policies that guide ethical decision-making in nursing.

7. Clinical Nursing Practice:

Get ready for hands-on clinical experiences in various healthcare settings under the supervision of qualified preceptors. You will apply theoretical knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world patient care situations. Through direct patient interactions, you will refine your clinical judgment, communication skills, and ability to collaborate effectively within interdisciplinary healthcare teams. 

Related: Nurse Anesthetist Salary: Pathway to a Great Nursing Career.

An accelerated MSN is meant for students who have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field other than nursing. An accelerated direct entry MSN can help you pursue nursing and get into an advanced leadership position. The accelerated MSN program is notorious for its intense curriculum. You will study at a fast pace and a lot of your coursework will include leadership-centered classes. The duration of an accelerated MSN is anywhere from one year to more than two years, depending on your chosen university. 

The eligibility criteria may be more strict than an accelerated BSN, you may need to maintain a GPA higher than 3.0, and some universities may require you to submit GRE scores. Even though they are not mandatory, submitting your GRE scores can strengthen your application and help you get into competitive programs. 

After you complete your MSN, you will be ready to take the NCLEX exam for your RN licensure. You could also consider getting your CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader) certification if you aspire to hold a leadership position.

All in all, an accelerated MSN is an ideal option if you are a leader at heart and wish to join the profession of nursing in a leadership position. 

Related: Master’s of Science in Nursing- A Quick Overview

Because you come from a non-nursing background, you will need to complete some courses that will give you a foundational understanding of some important concepts. If you’ve already taken the courses in the past few years and have the required credits, then you do not need to take these courses. All these prerequisite courses must be completed before you commence classes at the university.  

The specific prerequisites differ across universities so check the website of your preferred university to see what they expect you to complete. You can take these courses at any accredited institution of your choice.

Here’s an idea of what your prerequisite courses may include:

1. Human Anatomy with Lab:

This course provides an in-depth study of the structure of the human body, focusing on anatomical terminology, organ systems, and their functions. The lab component typically involves hands-on dissection of cadavers or models to enhance understanding of anatomical structures.

2. Physiology with Lab:

Physiology explores the functions and mechanisms of various organ systems within the human body. This course delves into topics such as cellular physiology, neurophysiology, cardiovascular physiology, and endocrine function. Lab sessions often involve experiments and demonstrations to illustrate physiological concepts.

3. Microbiology with Lab:

Microbiology covers the study of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa, and their roles in infectious diseases, immunology, and biotechnology. The lab component involves culturing, observing, and identifying microorganisms using microscopy and other techniques.

4. Nutrition:

Nutrition examines the science of food and its relationship to health and wellness. Topics include macronutrients, micronutrients, dietary guidelines, metabolism, and the role of nutrition in preventing and managing diseases. Students learn about dietary assessment methods and principles of nutrition counseling.

5. Biology or Chemistry:

This course provides a foundational understanding of either biology or chemistry, depending on the student’s chosen track. Biology covers fundamental concepts such as cellular biology, genetics, evolution, and ecology. Chemistry introduces principles of atomic structure, chemical bonding, reactions, stoichiometry, and organic chemistry.

6. Statistics:

Statistics focuses on the principles and techniques used to collect, analyze, and interpret data. Topics include probability theory, descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, regression analysis, and experimental design. Students learn to apply statistical methods to various fields, including biological and health sciences.

7. Pharmacology:

Pharmacology explores the action, uses, and effects of drugs on biological systems. This course covers drug classifications, mechanisms of drug action, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and drug interactions. Students learn about the therapeutic uses of drugs and the principles of rational drug therapy.

This will typically be a 5-semester program. Your curriculum will include both nursing knowledge and leadership-centered classes. 

Here’s a glance at the courses you will take:

1. Fundamentals of Nursing Practice:

This course introduces students to the foundational principles and skills of nursing practice. Topics include basic nursing techniques, patient assessment, infection control, medication administration, and therapeutic communication.

2. Pathophysiology:

Pathophysiology explores the physiological processes underlying diseases and disorders. Students learn about the mechanisms of disease development, alterations in normal physiology, and the manifestations of various health conditions.

3. Pharmacology for Nursing Practice:

Pharmacology for Nursing Practice focuses on the principles of drug therapy relevant to nursing practice. Students learn about drug classifications, mechanisms of action, indications, contraindications, side effects, and nursing implications for medication administration.

4. Mental Health Theory:

This course examines theories and concepts related to mental health and psychiatric nursing. Topics include psychosocial assessment, therapeutic communication techniques, psychiatric disorders, and interventions for promoting mental health and well-being.

5. Adult Theory:

Adult Theory focuses on the nursing care of adult patients across the lifespan. Students learn about common medical-surgical conditions, assessment techniques, nursing interventions, and patient education strategies for adult populations.

6. Family-Centered Nursing:

Family-centered nursing emphasizes the importance of considering the family unit in patient care. Students learn about family dynamics, communication strategies, family assessment tools, and interventions to support families in various healthcare settings.

7. Nursing Patients with Chronic Conditions:

This course focuses on the nursing care of patients with chronic illnesses and conditions. Students learn about disease management, symptom control, patient education, and strategies for promoting quality of life in individuals living with chronic health issues.

8. Maternity Nursing:

Maternity Nursing covers prenatal, intrapartum, postpartum, and newborn care. Topics include pregnancy complications, childbirth techniques, neonatal assessment, breastfeeding support, and postpartum recovery for mothers.

9. Leadership for Professional Nursing:

Leadership for Professional Nursing explores principles of nursing leadership, management, and healthcare systems. Students learn about leadership styles, organizational behavior, change management, quality improvement initiatives, and professional development strategies.

10. Population and Public Health Nursing:

Population and Public Health Nursing focuses on promoting health and preventing disease within communities and populations. Students learn about epidemiology, health promotion strategies, community assessment, program planning, and policy development to address public health issues.

These are just some common courses, you can expect to have a more comprehensive curriculum with every aspect of nursing care covered. 

Related: Types of Master’s Degrees in Nursing

1. You’re getting a chance to start a second career

Switching careers to healthcare has never been easier. An accelerated degree is a great opportunity through which you can become a nurse as fast as possible. Sure it’s tough work and going through the curriculum at a faster pace is challenging. But your love for nursing is going to get you through this.

2. Your program will be fast-paced

Accelerated programs are truly accelerated! You’ll be constantly learning and practicing and it’s going to be a lot. So be in your best physical and mental health before starting. You may not get enough time to absorb the material fully so it’s a good idea to study consistently to get the most out of your courses.

3. Nursing is evergreen

Nurses are always going to be in business. It’s an evergreen field and it’s growing faster than ever. While an accelerated program is great it can still be costly. But when you think of all the time you’re saving and the return on investment that you’ll get, it does seem totally worth it. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses make a median annual salary of $81,220.

4. You’ll be a part of a diverse group of students

You’ll be in cohorts with students who are just as passionate as you to make their lives about nursing. There will be people from different age groups and with varied professional backgrounds, all eager to devote their time to helping people. 

5. You’re stepping into a very fulfilling profession

Nursing is known to be one of the most fulfilling professions out there. It is a very respectable and noble profession. And you’ll feel proud about being a nurse. Everyone in nursing is in it because they sincerely care about people and being a part of such a group can feel empowering. Your work will make a difference and you know it.

Choosing between an accelerated BSN and an MSN depends on career goals. An accelerated BSN suits those seeking a quicker transition into nursing, while an MSN offers advanced practice or leadership roles. BSN is for the ones who are looking to become RNs fast, while MSN provides specialization options like a nurse practitioner or educator, offering broader career prospects. Consider your goals, prior education, and preferred pace of study when deciding.

Here are a few factors about both:

DurationA BSN typically takes about a year to complete.An MSN is typically longer than a BSN and can take anywhere from one to two years to complete.
Exam After your accelerated BSN, you have to take the NCLEX exam to get your RN license.After your MSN, you need to take the NCLEX exam and get your RN license. You may also need your CNL (Clinical nurse leader) certification.
Eligibility criteria to enter the programThe criteria for BSN nurses would include maintaining a high GPA, completing prerequisite courses with a grade higher than C or B-, and other standard requirements.The criteria for admission into accelerated MSN programs tend to be a bit stricter. Criteria include having a 3.0 GPA at minimum, getting a competitive grade in your prerequisite courses, and having a strong admission application including GRE scores in some cases.
Coursework Rigorous courses centered around nursing practice Rigorous courses centered around nursing practice and leadership. You can also specialize in a particular area of nursing.
Advancement BSN nurses can advance to MSN by pursuing additional education.MSN nurses can move on to advanced roles like the NP in a chosen specialty, nursing leadership, or APRN roles by pursuing additional certification.

Regardless of whether you choose an accelerated BSN or MSN, you’re in for a fulfilling journey. You’ll be the one patients will turn to for help and guidance. Your positive attitude and kindness will make a whole lot of difference in their hospital stay. You will get to be a part of every patient’s journey, from their tears to their smiles. It can feel very fulfilling and satisfying to be a part of such a profound profession. 

Before you make the shift to nursing, take time to think about how you’re going to manage the tuition costs and how you can give the program your undivided attention and utmost dedication. And take time to do your research. Any form of experience is valuable; if you can make time to intern or shadow a professional in the field, you will know if the profession is really meant for you. All in all, accelerating learning is a great option that gives you a chance to fulfill your dreams!

Are accelerated nursing degrees respected?

Yes! Accelerated nursing programs are generally respected within the healthcare industry. These programs are designed to provide intensive education and clinical training, preparing students for licensure as registered nurses (RNs). Make sure to choose an accredited and reputable program to get your accelerated degree. Employers often value the skills and knowledge gained through accelerated programs, especially since graduates typically hold bachelor’s degrees in other fields, bringing diverse perspectives and experiences to nursing practice.

Can I complete my accelerated nursing program online?

Some accelerated nursing programs offer online or hybrid formats, allowing students to complete coursework remotely while still fulfilling in-person clinical requirements. However, it’s important to note that many accelerated nursing programs, particularly those that lead to licensure as a registered nurse (RN), require hands-on clinical experiences in healthcare settings to develop practical skills and meet licensing requirements. Therefore, while some coursework may be completed online, students should expect to participate in clinical rotations at affiliated healthcare facilities to gain hands-on experience and fulfill licensure requirements. Often, online students can arrange their clinical experiences with a healthcare facility near them, making it possible to become a nurse even if there is no nursing college in your area.