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What are Accelerated Registered Nurse Programs?

Majors Overview March 25, 2013

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) may be an excellent option for those who want to go back to work after being out of the job market for an extended period of time or looking at switching to another career. An accelerated registered nurse program is one option to receive the required training.

RNs Job Outlook

In May 2010, the average annual salary for registered nurses was $64,690, or $31.10 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). During this time, there were 2,737,400 registered nurses. There will be a need for an additional 711,900 registered nurses by 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which is a higher-than-average growth rate among United States occupations. Registered nurses can work in various settings, including correctional facilities, schools, military settings, summer camps, home health care facilities, nursing care facilities, doctors’ offices, and hospitals.

Why Accelerated Registered Nurse Programs Exist

The traditional route to becoming a RN requires at least an associate degree. Several aspiring nurses may choose to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Individuals who are interested in teaching usually go on to earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing program has been extremely competitive for the last several years. Nursing colleges and universities are looking for creative ways to train more students since there is a growing demand for registered nurses. One of the most popular ways is through an accelerated program.

According to the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing), taking an accelerated program is the quickest way to complete the training and get out into the workplace, but individuals will need to possess an undergraduate or graduate degree in a discipline other than nursing. Accelerated programs are available for both Bachelor of Science in Nursing and Master of Science in Nursing.

Accelerated Program Basics

It generally takes a student twelve to eighteen months to complete the BSN accelerated program. It usually takes three years to complete the MSN program. Students complete Bachelor of Science in Nursing work as part of their Master of Science in Nursing program. Students will take bachelor-level nursing courses during their first year. According to the AACN, graduate courses make up the coursework during the last two years. There were over 14,000 students who enrolled in these programs during 2011.

Guam and the District of Columbia, along with forty-one other states offer accelerated nursing programs. During 2011, nursing colleges and universities offered 235 undergraduate programs and 63 graduate programs. Students will be able to find a list of schools that offer accelerated baccalaureate programs through the American Association of Colleges and Nursing website (

The basis of accelerated registered nurse programs is to quickly accomplish program goals by building on previous learning experiences. Individuals will earn the same amount of clinic hours as those in traditional nursing programs, and the instructions are intense.

The typical accelerated student has higher educational expectations, more motivated, and much older compared to entry-level nursing students. A majority of them are eager to participate in clinical training. They are described by faculty members as highly competitive. The American Association of Colleges and Nursing reported that students who are enrolled in an accelerated nursing program usually pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) on their first try.

Through the accelerated nursing programs, students are building on their experiences and prior learning. The requirements are exceedingly intense and involve the same amount of clinical hours as the regular program. However, the students in these programs are older and more motivated. They also have a degree and are eager to engage in clinical training. The instructors praise them as being highly competitive, and the AACN says that a high percentage pass the certification exam the first time.

Admission Standards

The majority of accelerated nursing program requires a detailed pre-screening process and students must maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average (GPA). Nursing colleges and universities will review candidates’ transcripts to determine how many prerequisite courses are required and which courses (generally liberal arts) they do not need to take. Students who have earned a degree in social sciences or arts are required to complete prerequisite courses like microbiology or anatomy. Usually, these classes are available before the start of the regular academic term. Students who apply to graduate degree programs usually have various employment and academic background, from horticulturists to attorneys.

Disadvantages of Accelerated RN programs

There are challenges that students should consider in the accelerated programs, such as:

•The program is intense. The majority of undergraduate programs take twelve to eighteen months to complete. Typically, there will not be any breaks between academic terms.
•Colleges and universities may require prerequisites. Individuals who do not have degrees related to science usually have to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in the registered nurse program.
•The accelerated program is extremely competitive. Several colleges and universities require over a 3.0 grade point average, and many applicants have it.
•Financial aid is scarce for accelerated nursing program, so finding funds to pay for school tuition may be difficult.

Even though, an accelerated registered nurse program requires a high level of dedication and commitment, it still remains an excellent option for individuals who want to re-enter the workforce as a nurse or change careers.

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