Not to be confused with RN-to-BSN programs where current nurses can advance their careers, accelerated nursing programs allow students to get a degree in nursing in just 11 to 18 months.
Types of second degree or accelerated direct-entry nursing programs include:
- Practical Nurse Certification (LPN)
- Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
All types of accelerated nursing programs provide a fast-track degree for a future career in nursing. Though, these programs do have distinctions. When weighing your options, note the kind of bachelor’s degree the school accepts and the type of accelerated nursing programs they offer.
Let’s take a closer look into what accelerated and second degree nursing programs entail.
The Growing Nursing Industry
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing is projected to grow faster than the national average of other professions.
Thanks to their wide acceptance across the healthcare industry, accelerated nursing degrees are one of the fastest-growing university programs in the USA. While there were only 31 accelerated graduate degree programs in the country in 1990, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) now recognizes 282 active accelerated nursing programs.
More universities recognize the need for second degree nursing programs to adapt their curriculum to meet the high demand for accelerated degrees. Employers also maintain a growing consensus that second degree graduates are more mature, quick learners, and have strong clinical skills.
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How do Accelerated Degrees Differ from Traditional Degrees?
Accelerated nursing programs have two distinct advantages over traditional degrees:
- They provide students with the prospect of earning their Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate Program (LPN), Associate degree program (ASN), Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) faster than traditional on-campus college programs.
- They are also designed for students who already have undergraduate degrees in other disciplines but want to pursue a career in nursing.
Benefits of Accelerated ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) Over Traditional ADN
The accelerated ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) is a round-the-year program that prepares students with theoretical and practical skills. These programs also prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN exam after graduation.
The advantages of an accelerated ADN program:
- The time factor: Since most nursing programs take two years or more to complete before you can begin working, you should pursue an accelerated program to get out of the classroom and into a healthcare facility as soon as possible. Rigorous and condensed course material prepares you to start practicing much sooner than other students.
- Job stability: Given the nursing shortage, RNs will enjoy plenty of open opportunities and job security.
- An adaptable learning curriculum: The fast and flexible structure of accelerated ADNs could make it easier for you to become a nurse while juggling other responsibilities. Today, most programs offer a combination of online and traditional courses.
Benefits of Second Degree Nursing Programs Over a Traditional BSN
The key difference between traditional BSN and accelerated BSN programs is the time it takes to earn the degree.
Listed below are a few additional benefits to consider:
- Decreased tuition
- Focus on essential courses
- Stronger clinical skills
- It makes an individual more sought-after
- Choice and variety of programs
Accelerated programs offer a fast-paced learning environment focusing on nursing courses and biology and science fundamentals, specifically. The instructions run full-time, and students have to complete the same number of clinical hours as traditional BSN graduates.
Universities encourage students not to work while completing this program, as course requirements can be demanding. However, if students have to work, universities recommend working in a hospital, nursing care, or a clinical setting to earn relevant experiences in their field.
There are two types of accelerated nursing degree programs in RI that you can apply for:
- With an RN licensure
- Without an RN licensure
If you already possess your associate’s degree in nursing and working in this field, you can even earn your BSN online.
How Do the Accelerated Nursing Degrees Differ from Accelerated Nursing Certifications?
Though they are both accelerated programs, degrees and certifications in nursing differ based on the student’s desired outcome.
LPNs can work in nursing homes, hospitals, and other medical facilities and are assigned to basic patient care and comfort procedures. The practical nursing certificate program qualifies students to practice nursing under the direction of a registered nurse or physician.
RNs, on the other hand, start their careers performing direct patient care. This experience is usually chosen by nurses who wish to advance their careers and eventually earn a BSN, MSN, and so on.
Let’s look at some of the other differences between accelerated degrees and accelerated certifications:
What are the Admission Requirements for Accelerated Nursing Programs?
Students applying for an accelerated program must fulfill rigorous academic requirements and complete a pre-screening process. These requirements will help identify students who will flourish in the healthcare field.
Second-degree programs require students to complete a list of specific prerequisite courses. You are exempt from retaking these courses if you have already completed them during your undergraduate experience.
Typical courses that aspiring graduates must take are:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Development Physiology
You must complete these courses with a minimum passing grade (typically B or higher) within five years. In some cases, you can also take these courses online or at a community college to reduce the cost of tuition. These courses may also have a lab component for which you need to attend the campus.
The New England Institute of Technology and Rhode Island College are two of the most popular colleges for nursing education in RI. The typical enrollment criteria for these nursing schools are:
- Fulfillment of college-level mathematics competency, humanities, and writing requirements
- Current RN license
- University transcripts
- Completion of core nursing and science courses
The New England Institute of Technology requires students fulfill the following additional requirements to enroll in the accelerated second degree nursing education program:
- A nursing degree or diploma from a nationally or regionally accredited post-secondary institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0
- In addition to academic qualification to apply for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam, students must fulfill the following prerequisite courses (or equivalent) with a grade B or above:
- BIO 107 Comprehensive Anatomy & Physiology I with Lab
- BIO 127 Comprehensive Anatomy & Physiology II with Lab
- BIO 122 Microbiology
- PS 140 Lifespan Development
- SO 203 Social Problems
Entry Requirements for an AS degree:
- A candidate must have a high school diploma and a recognized equivalency diploma (GED) or fulfill federal home school requirements. A Licensed Practical Nursing Certificate or Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program typically requires a minimum GPA range of 2.0 to 2.75.
- Students might need to take certain prerequisite courses throughout their high school career, and may likely include microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. These specifics will vary depending on the nursing school in question.
- Aspiring nurses may also want to collect undergraduate experiences to help them excel in a healthcare setting. For example: learning CPR, doing community service, or looking for volunteer opportunities in a healthcare environment.
- Enroll in a registered nursing school.
- Additional Applications, Requirements, and Exams: Some nursing schools may even state that students must complete additional examinations before being accepted, like the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) test. Once they enroll with admissions, all students will complete the ACCUPLACER Assessment. After the assessment, students will consult with an advisor. If assessment scores meet the criteria for the Nursing program, students will complete the Kaplan Admission Test. The score from the Kaplan test will be used to decide admission into the Nursing program.
- Qualify as a Nurse Registered with the Specialist Examination; NCLEX-RN.
Entry requirements for a MS degree:
Each applicant must:
- Complete an information session with a university admissions officer.
- Apply for enrollment including, a personal statement and a current professional résumé or curriculum vitae, along with the non-refundable application fee. Applications may be completed online at www.neit.edu.
- Submit a copy of a current unencumbered RN license to an Admissions Officer.
- Submit an official transcript showing degree completion. Completed nursing programs must be accredited by the NLN, ACEN, or CCNE.
- Provide a certificate, signed by a physician/provider, confirming immunization against measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella, receive a booster dose of tetanus and diphtheria (Tdap) within the last ten years, and 3 doses of Hepatitis B vaccine or a positive titer (Other requirements may be determined by the clinical organizations).
- The student must have an American Heart Association BLS for Healthcare Providers (BLS Provider) card.
Like most courses, there are typically two intakes for accelerated nursing programs in college: Spring and Fall.
- You can apply online at the New England Institute of Technology before the stipulated dates. For most second degree programs, you must attach your signed plan of the study document, indicating the courses you have taken or plan to take for fulfilling the prerequisites.
- After submitting your application, the faculty advisor will review your profile and schedule an appointment to discuss your enrollment. If your application is satisfactory, the advisor will submit your application to the university’s school of nursing.
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Some common guidelines that students should follow are:
- All nursing students must ensure that they adhere to the application deadlines.
- You must attach a signed plan of study with your application. Select the courses in your plan of study according to the time you can dedicate to the degree.
- Always check that you have the supporting documents/transcripts with you before filling out the form.
- Verify that the information that your form is complete and you have filled out the correct information.
- If there’s an application fee, ensure that you pay the correct amount.
In the nursing profession, you have to work directly with patients. Therefore, you must be physically fit and free from any contagious diseases. Nursing schools have comprehensive health guidelines, which may include:
- Negative PPD Test and yearly PPD updates
- Physical Admission Test
- Vaccinations for Covid-19, tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap), mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, varicella, and flu.
Program/Learning Goals in Accelerated Degrees
Second degree nursing students have to grasp a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time. A nursing school expects students to stay motivated and have higher academic expectations than traditional degree-level students. You must be eager to learn and gain clinical experiences in your accelerated degree program.
Accelerated second degree nursing programs emphasize specific goals, which can help students excel at nursing practice. Some of the goals of nursing education are to help students:
- Focus on continuous education and lifelong learning as a professional nurse.
- Work with patient care technologies to deliver safe, effective, and quality treatment.
- Engage in issues related to policy development, legislative and political activity to become healthcare leaders.
- Contribute as trainers and contributors to pass on the knowledge, skills, and attitude for inspiring inclusive growth.
- Work with people from diverse backgrounds to improve the quality of healthcare in their community.
- Become an active and collaborative member of the interprofessional nursing teams to advance the existing knowledge.
- Use critical thinking, learning experiences, and analytical skills to provide care in any setting.
- Demonstrate professional behavior to adhere to moral, ethical, and legal codes of conduct.
How Long Does it Take to Complete an Accelerated Nursing Program?
Accelerated nursing programs can take anywhere from 11 to 18 months to complete. The second degree path is well-suited for students who already possess a degree in another field of study.
Benefits of Second Degree Nursing Programs
Those considering transitioning between careers want to do so in the least amount of time possible.
If you want to adjust your career path, an accelerated program will make it possible to complete your degree in less than two years, quickly preparing you for life on the job.
Accelerated nursing degrees also help existing graduates build upon their previous knowledge and avoid wasting time and money learning the same courses again. In half the time required to earn a BSN, you can learn nursing fundamentals, develop strong clinical skills, and become active contributors to society.
Tuition Cost/Financial Aid of Accelerated Nursing Programs in Rhode Island
Some accelerated programs actually cost less than traditional programs. The majority of these programs have accessible and adaptable scheduling options to ensure that non-traditional students, typically adult learners with full-time jobs and families, can also enroll in career programs of their choice.
Learn about financial aid at the New England Institute of Technology.
Best Second Degree Nursing Programs in Rhode Island
These are some of the top schools in Rhode Island that offer accelerated nursing programs:
You can find the complete list of degrees that each school offers in Providence, Warwick, East Greenwich, and other locations in RI on the respective university websites.
How to Survive and Thrive in Accelerated Nursing Degrees
Accelerated nursing programs can be a bit overwhelming and. Listed below are a few helpful tips:
- Develop a core support group of friends, family, and peers who can listen, provide guidance and encouragement, and support you through your journey.
- Exercise, get adequate sleep, relax outdoors, and take good care of yourself to maintain your energy and focus.
- Be aware of your strengths and limitations. There may be times when you feel frustrated and emotional, so always keep the bigger picture in mind and have things in perspective.
- Manage the available time at hand effectively to avoid rushes and delays.
- Develop a study routine. Everyone has different study habits; find out what works best for you and stick to your plan.
- Remember your goals, and know that in the end, it will be worth the effort.
Accelerated nursing programs are a great way to advance your career in one of the fastest-growing fields today. Gaining your second degree can provide access to a world of high-paying career opportunities. Always get adequate information about the course you intend to join and follow all the admission requirements to avoid last-minute hassles.
How long does it take to become a nurse if you already have a bachelor’s degree?
If you have a bachelor’s degree in non-nursing fields, you can complete an accelerated nursing program in just 11 to 18 months.
Are there accelerated RN programs?
Yes. Accelerated RN programs can help you obtain your licensure in half the time it takes to complete a traditional BSN degree.
How can I get my BSN without RN?
You can apply for a BSN without an RN if you have a bachelor’s degree in any field of study. Second degree nursing programs help you obtain your BSN in less than two years.
Is nursing school difficult?
The answer differs from person to person. While a career in nursing is difficult, it is known to be extremely rewarding and challenging. Nursing education requires a mix of classroom courses, lab work, and clinical practices. Courses often involve biology, chemistry, statistics, and nursing fundamentals.
What is the fastest way to become an LPN?
The fastest way to become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) is to enroll in a practical nursing certificate program. As a full-time student, you will be ready to work in months, not years. LPN programs usually include a year of coursework and experience at a hospital, or community college.