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Taking an Accelerated RN Course

See how accelerated RN programs work and what to expect before enrolling

Written by Aaron Ball on June 22nd, 2012

Changing careers often presents people with a great deal of fear. They think that they will have to take another four years of classes, and older adults wonder how they’ll handle this responsibility along with working full-time, raising a family and taking care of a household. Fortunately, accelerated RN programs offer a solution for individuals who have decided to become registered nurses after having already completed an undergraduate or graduate program in another discipline. While they may still have to attend class full-time, the overall length of the program is decreased.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the time period for an accelerated RN program depends upon whether the student is seeking an undergraduate or graduate degree. An undergraduate program will take about 11 to 18 months to entirely complete, and this total includes any prerequisites that a student needs to take before starting nursing classes. An accelerated RN graduate program will take approximately three years to finish.

There are certain requirements associated with an accelerated RN program. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing states that a 3.0 GPA is generally required for undergraduate programs, and that requirement may be higher at the graduate level or at certain schools. As for other prerequisites, they are going to vary depending upon the specific school. For example, New York University requires students to have completed required courses in chemistry, microbiology, developmental psychology, statistics and anatomy and physiology. On the other hand, the Medical University of South Carolina states that individuals must have 60 semester hours of coursework before they enter the program, and the program websites lists certain required courses. Additionally, the school has a list of classes that people who do not have a bachelor’s degree must take before enrolling in the program. Classes range from English Composition/Literature to Human Anatomy and Human Physiology. Before applying for any program, potential students should make sure that their degree is from or their classes were taken at an accredited university. In general, schools will not accept credits from non-accredited universities.

As with the prerequisites, specific programs are going to vary in their course requirements. Howard Community College offers a 13 month long accelerated RN Associates Degree program, where students attend classes full-time and take courses in fields such as microbiology, chemistry and sociology. At the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute, students take Pathophysiology, Common Problems of Adult Health, Health Care Policy & Politics, Maternal Child Nursing and more during the course of their studies.

Once the program is completed, degree holders will begin the job search. What career opportunities are available for people who hold these types of degrees? Although these individuals have engaged in an accelerated program, they still have the same opportunities that any registered nurse would have. They might seek employment in a private practice, or they may work in a hospital, as many nurses do as soon as they are finished with their degree. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports that these types of employees are often highly favored because they are considered to be “more mature, possess strong clinical skills, and [they] are quick studies on the job”. Nurses will be happy to know that their future seems to be rather bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is expected to be a need for 580,000 more registered nurses by the year 2018.

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