There are a number of compelling reasons to become a nurse — it’s a fast-paced, hands-on profession that could allow you to dedicate your working hours to making a real difference in the lives of others. And the nation’s hospitals and other healthcare facilities are in search of registered nurses (RNs) to fill the persistent nursing shortage, which means there’s no better time to join the profession.
You may think that after having earned a bachelor’s degree in a different field, you’re out of options when it comes to pursuing a nursing career — unless, of course, you go back to the starting line to begin your education from scratch. But there actually is another way you could achieve your newfound dream of becoming an RN without dedicating the traditional four years that would typically be required of a bachelor’s degree program.
Accelerated nursing programs were designed with students exactly like you in mind, providing an opportunity for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in another field to change courses and earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as 12 months. If you’re hoping to change career paths efficiently in a climate that recognizes your previous experience, this could be the path for you.
Curious to learn more? Read on as we dig into the facts surrounding accelerated nursing programs, starting with the question most people ask: Why get a BSN instead of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)?
BSN vs. ADN: What’s the difference?
There are two primary routes to becoming an RN. Nursing hopefuls can opt to earn either an ADN or a BSN. Both paths end with graduates sitting for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) — the examination all nurses must pass to earn their licensure.
While both ADN and BSN programs effectively prepare students for successful nursing practice, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) notes that BSN programs encompass all the coursework taught in ADN programs, “plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities.”
Leaders in the field have long been encouraging the advancement of education for RNs, highlighting a range of statistics that show improvements in patient care when more nurses are qualified with a BSN. In fact, states like New York have actually passed “BSN in 10” laws, which require all RNs to obtain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of earning their initial licensure.
Study after study cited by the AACN has found that an increase of BSN-qualified nurses in today’s healthcare facilities is associated with improved patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates, shorter lengths of stay, lower readmission rates and fewer errors in patient treatment. All of these elements result in not only increased patient satisfaction, but also cost savings for the facilities, making BSN degree-holders prime candidates for hiring.
We used real-time job analysis software to examine nearly one million RN job postings from the past year.* Nurses with a bachelor’s degree in the field qualified for 65 percent more RN job openings than ADN degree-holders. It’s also been found that while both paths can enable graduates to work as RNs, those with an ADN can expect to earn roughly $5,000 less than their BSN counterparts annually.
It’s also true that nurses with their BSN degree see much greater potential of obtaining leadership and management positions in the field, as their supplemental coursework includes subjects like public health, leadership, and research. There are even particular nursing specialties that require a BSN degree, such as public health, nurse education and nurse research.
What to expect from an accelerated nursing program
Accelerated nursing programs like the one at Bellarmine University are designed to be a fast-track BSN program created specifically for students who hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field. Even in its accelerated format, students will learn all the same things any traditional BSN nursing student would — including those ever important clinical hours that will help you gain important experience working in real hospitals with real patients.
No prior education or work experience in nursing or healthcare is required to qualify for an accelerated BSN program, which means you can expect to learn everything you need to pass the NCLEX-RN and land an RN position in as few as 12 months. Students in Bellarmine’s program also have the option to embark upon a two-year accelerated option or even a three-year part time option. Consider these part-time modalities if you want to continue working while you pursue your degree or if you have significant life commitments you’ll need to work around.
Enrolling in an accelerated nursing program means you’ll be surrounded by a cohort of classmates who are also coming from different areas of expertise. This means you’ll have the opportunity to learn from the diverse experiences of your classmates while bringing your own unique insights into the classroom.
Many might assume that because an accelerated program is shorter, students won’t receive as thorough an education. But accelerated nursing students actually have an opportunity to learn the material in even greater depth, since they are typically packing more into each semester with fewer gaps between lessons and clinicals.
In fact, graduates from Bellarmine University’s accelerated BSN program have historically performed extremely well on the NCLEX-RN, with grads from the last five years boasting an impressive 95 percent first-time pass rate. By way of comparison, the national average hovers right around 88 percent from year to year.
With proven outcomes stemming from a program led by a team of esteemed nursing faculty, it’s no wonder graduates from Bellarmine’s accelerated nursing program are often highly regarded by local hospitals and clinics when it comes time for hiring new nurses.
Get on the fast track to becoming an RN
Once you’ve committed yourself to the idea of changing your career path, you likely want to hit the ground running as soon as you can. With an accelerated nursing program, you have the opportunity to complete the required education and step into your scrubs as an RN sooner than you imagined.
If you’re eager to get started, you’ll want to partner with a program that will ensure you receive the best accelerated education possible. Head over to Bellarmine University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program page to learn more about your next steps.
*Source: Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 929,626 registered nurse job postings from Oct. 01, 2018 – Sept. 30, 2019)