What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

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If you are wondering “What is an accelerated nursing program?” then you’ll be interested in Pacific Lutheran University's accelerated nursing program which offers professionals with non-nursing degrees to complete an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) by combining online coursework, simulation labs, and clinical experiences into a 16-month program.

nursing students in lab

You may have heard the saying, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” But if you do not love your current job, you may consider changing to a more fulfilling career like nursing by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through an accelerated nursing program. Now, you may wonder, “What is an accelerated nursing program?”

An accelerated nursing program allows you to earn a BSN faster by building off your previous education. Through Pacific Lutheran University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program near Seattle, Washington, you can earn your BSN in as few as 16 months. Our ABSN includes online coursework, in-person nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations.

An accelerated nursing program helps you become a nurse faster if you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits in a field other than nursing. Read on to learn how an accelerated nursing program works, what to expect as an ABSN student and tips for success in a fast-paced nursing program.

How Does an Accelerated Nursing Program Work?

Accelerated nursing programs are designed for professionals with a bachelor’s degree in another field or students currently enrolled in a non-nursing program. ABSN programs include a combination of learning modalities: online or on-site coursework, on-site simulation labs, and clinical placements in local hospitals and healthcare facilities.

While a traditional nursing degree requires four years of school (including two years of prerequisites and two years of nursing school), the accelerated program at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) prepares you to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months. The program is fast-paced and rigorous, designed to cover a lot quickly, and requires full-time study. So, what does the ABSN program entail and what is an ABSN student expected to know?

nurse with child

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Online Coursework Builds a Strong Foundation

Even though the program is accelerated, you will receive the same quality of education that you would in a traditional four-year program. In PLU’s accredited ABSN, you learn all the foundations of nursing theory, skills and healthcare policy and emerge prepared to be successful passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) and begin practice as a Registered Nurse (RN) in a variety of health care agencies where the demand for nurses is high.

Access to an online learning platform allows you the flexibility, convenience and comfort of learning from your preferred environment — home, library or cafe. Online coursework utilizes a variety of learning styles to be accessible to a wide variety of students.

student studying on laptop at home

The format also encourages you to develop critical thinking skills, self-motivation and self-discipline as you take ownership of your education and progress through the program. Despite being online, our e-learning platform easily connects you to your classmates and instructors through discussion boards, email and video conferencing.

Skills and Simulation Labs Prepare Nurses for the Real Thing

With condensed timelines, it is crucial to learn multiple nursing skills quickly. PLU’s clinical skills laboratory and state-of-the-art simulation lab are essential to the ABSN program.

The skills lab allows students to use high tech manikins to practice nursing skills and procedures, such as inserting IVs and changing dressings, which are as close to real life as possible. After practicing in the lab, you will feel better prepared to care for actual patients in a fast-paced clinical setting.

Alternatively, the simulation lab offers more in-depth and life-like patient scenarios, such as how to resuscitate a patient, which you might experience in a nursing unit. Your instructor will provide information about your simulated patient, and, either independently or with a team, you will determine and demonstrate proper patient care for each scenario.

Your nursing lab experience is the perfect place to ask questions and make mistakes within a safe and supportive learning environment.

Nurses gathered around manikin

Want to know more about what it takes to become a nurse? Read more to explore nine essential nursing skills.

The Importance of Clinical Rotations

Your clinical rotations are often the most exciting part of nursing school. In an ABSN program, clinicals are where you merge nursing theory with practical skills. During clinical rotations, you will be assigned to a nursing unit and guided by your nursing clinical faculty or paired with a registered nurse (RN) preceptor. Clinical rotations can happen in many different healthcare settings, such as public health clinics, hospital facilities, long-term care, school nurse office clinics, and many more.

Consider clinical rotations in the 16-month nursing program as an extended job interview. Students have an opportunity to network and build professional relationships with nurses and healthcare providers in the community. You may find potential job opportunities during your clinical rotations so you can join the nursing field soon after graduation, and passing NCLEX.

PLU nursing students talking in simulation lab

Is an ABSN Program Right for You?

If you are considering changing careers and wonder if an ABSN program aligns with your goals, here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • Do you have a 4-year non-nursing degree? Or at least 60 college credits in a non-nursing path?
  • Is your cumulative GPA at least 3.0?
  • Can you commit to 16 consecutive months of full-time study?

In addition to the 60 credits, you must complete specific prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, psychology, statistics and nutrition. You may have completed most or all of them already, but if you still need to, you can work with an admission counselor to develop an academic plan to meet the required prerequisites before you are enrolled.

Now that you can answer “What is an accelerated nursing program?” you are on the path to becoming an RN with a BSN degree.

Tips for Starting Nursing School

To keep up with your coursework during an accelerated nursing program, establish good study habits to set yourself up for success. Here are some essential tips for starting nursing school:

  1. Establish a solid study routine early on to manage your time efficiently.
  2. Ask for help from professors, peers or tutoring services.
  3. Immerse yourself in your clinical experiences and hands-on learning to build your confidence. You may also land your first job.
  4. Find a support network of fellow ABSN students who understand the journey and can share encouragement and motivation.
  5. Consider ways you can get support for life commitments you may already have such as family responsibilities, child care, part time work, to ensure you will have sufficient time to be successful in your academic program.
PLU ABSN students looking at IV in simulation lab

Starting an accelerated nursing program is a significant step toward your new career. With the right approach from the onset, you can navigate it successfully.

Fast-Track to Your Dream Career Starts with a BSN

Now that you are no longer wondering, “What is an accelerated nursing program?” you can start thinking about how you want to achieve your nursing career goals. If you are self-motivated and enjoy fast-paced learning and the practical application of coursework and hands-on skills, consider an ABSN program that allows you to use your already hard-earned college credits to kickstart a fulfilling and steady nursing career sooner.

At PLU, you participate in a high-quality, rigorous education that prepares you to earn your BSN, take the NCLEX confidently, and earn your nursing licensure. Contact us today to learn more about the exciting nursing opportunities at Pacific Lutheran University.