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Fast Track to a Nursing Degree

Fast Track to a Nursing Degree

John Rossheim | Monster Senior Contributing Writer

Whether looking to add meaning to their workdays or find a new vocation after being laid off from a foundering industry, career-changing professionals are increasingly turning to accelerated bachelor’s programs in nursing.

Accelerated BSN programs train folks with bachelor’s degrees in other fields to be nurses in 12 to 18 months. The number of accelerated BSN programs has grown dramatically, from only 31 in 1990 to 218 by 2008. These programs are available in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). And with the US nursing shortage raging on, accelerated degree programs continue to multiply. The AACN reports that 37 new accelerated baccalaureate programs are being planned.

Does such a radical and rapid career change make sense for you? See what’s involved and decide for yourself.

Highly Selective

When Kent Senffner’s employer was looking to cut staff a few years ago, the Portland, Oregon, marketer asked to be laid off. “I was so sick of business,” Senffner says. “I was doing well, but the work was not rewarding.”

Like many other professionals in the 2000s, Senffner changed course to nursing, enrolling in the accelerated BSN program at the Creighton University School of Nursing in Omaha in January 2004. Other typical entrants in accelerated BSN programs include stockbrokers, accountants, teachers and nutritionists.

The accelerated programs are selective. In 2003, there were 196 applicants for 40 places in the combined BSN/MS program at Pace University’s Lienhard School of Nursing in New York City and Pleasantville, New York, according to Gerrie Colombraro, assistant dean of the nursing school.

Although most accelerated nursing programs accept candidates with a bachelor’s degree in nearly any field, many students must complete science prerequisites before matriculating. These typically include anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology. Candidates must also present a solid undergraduate GPA.

24/7 Endeavor

In addition, prospective students must show evidence of their ability and determination to sprint for up to a year and a half to complete an intensive nursing degree program. Usually, there are no breaks between terms.

“Some people have trouble going back into the student role,” says Mary Parsons, program chair of the accelerated BSN program at Creighton. “They’ve committed to 15 to 18 hours in the clinical lab, in addition to an overload of coursework.”

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