Brian Ullrich graduated from the ABSN program in May 2021.

Accelerated BSN

How to thrive in the Accelerated BSN program

School of Nursing

Bellarmine’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program allows you to earn a degree in Nursing in just 12 months, spread over three semesters. To complete the 62 hours of content, you’ll attend classes two to three days a week and will be in clinical settings two to three days a week, Monday through Friday.
"Yes, you are in a difficult program—but it can, and has, been done!”

If that sounds intense, it is—so much so that students are strongly advised not to work while they go through the program. But what is it really like, and will you be able to survive it? 

For answers and advice, we turned to Brian Ullrich, who graduated from the program in May 2021 and started work as a nurse at Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville in June 2021. (He also earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from Bellarmine in 2016.) Because of COVID-19, his program was almost completely online, but his insights apply equally to the in-person experience.
Don’t panic. The first two weeks can be overwhelming. There’s a lot of information coming at you from all directions, and it’s a lot to take in. I took a quiz the first week and got much lower scores than I had hoped, and I remember thinking the world was coming to an end before it even started.  It took probably most of the summer before I felt like I was in the groove. I had to remind myself many times that I was completing a four-year program in one and with that comes a very fast pace. Yes, you are in a difficult program—but it can, and has, been done!
Try to stay ahead. You’re getting a lot of new information constantly. I found that if I could take the extra few hours in the week to at least glance at the new material we would see the next week, the less intimidating it all seemed. 
Take advantage of available resources. The accelerated program is very self-driven, so be prepared to put in the effort—but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Raise your hand in class! Tutors are also available for most courses. In this type of program, it is up to you to learn and clarify all the information you are taking in so you can learn how to provide the best care for your patients. The faculty are very supportive and helpful. They are receptive to student needs and hold meetings each term to discuss issues and to consider changes to schedules and clinicals. Robin Webb, the administrative assistant, regularly sends emails about job opportunities. Bellarmine also prepares you really well for the NCLEX [National Council Licensure Examination]. Utilize the QBanks [practice questions] and trust that the school sets you up for success if you put in the effort.
Form a study group. Studying with classmates on- and off-campus made a huge difference for me. Nursing students stick together and work hard to help each other learn the material. We could talk through the information and get a better understanding. It was also the perfect outlet for decompressing with others who were experiencing the same stresses I was.
Take care of yourself. Studying is massively important, but so is not studying. Find something that helps you decompress and stay focused on the bigger picture. Run, work out, skate, walk, kayak, go for little trips out of the city, read, meet new people. This year of your life is as important as any other. It will fly by, so remember to enjoy the journey and make memories outside of school. 
Again: Don’t panic! You are more than capable of making it through the program!  Stay focused and stay connected with the teacher and your peers for help. You’ve got a lot of support within the Bellarmine community, so use it!

Tags: Accelerated BSN , Graduate Programs , Student Success



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.