Veteran to BSN: Accelerated Nursing Education for Military Veterans

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams build on the exist­ing skills and expe­ri­ences of vet­er­ans, par­tic­u­lar­ly those who served as medics or in health­care roles. These pro­grams lever­age vet­er­ans’ cri­sis man­age­ment, lead­er­ship, and team­work abil­i­ties.
  • These pro­grams pro­vide access to vet­er­an-spe­cif­ic finan­cial aid options, such as the GI Bill and the Yel­low Rib­bon pro­gram, mak­ing edu­ca­tion more affordable.
  • Health­care admin­is­tra­tors play a cru­cial role in design­ing spe­cial­ized pro­grams for vet­er­ans, cre­at­ing sup­port net­works, and pro­vid­ing access to coun­sel­ing and oth­er resources. 

As a vet­er­an, serv­ing your coun­try can be a source of pride and accom­plish­ment. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, once you fin­ish with your sta­tion in the mil­i­tary, you have to rein­te­grate your­self into the civil­ian world. Con­sid­er­ing that many enroll right out of high school, this can be dif­fi­cult to do with­out a uni­ver­si­ty degree. This also explains the high unem­ploy­ment rate among vet­er­ans, caus­ing them to look into alternatives.

If you worked as a medic, nurse, or were respon­si­ble for the health of sol­diers while in the mil­i­tary, a BSN is the most obvi­ous choice. Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams are some great options, as you can get your degree in half the time. This can pre­pare you for enter­ing the civil­ian work­force, wast­ing as lit­tle time as pos­si­ble. In this arti­cle, you will learn more about these degrees to see what to expect.


Why Accelerated Nursing Programs Are Ideal for Veterans

As a vet­er­an, you may won­der why a medic to BSN pro­gram would be more con­ve­nient for you than just get­ting an aver­age degree. Wouldn’t that be more inclu­sive? The answer is quite sim­ple: unlike tra­di­tion­al pro­grams that aim to train nurs­es fresh out of high school, accel­er­at­ed pro­grams build on your exist­ing knowl­edge and experience.

As a vet­er­an, you pos­sess trans­fer­able skills in your future nurs­ing career paths. You know how to han­dle crises, are advanced in lead­er­ship, are capa­ble of work­ing with a team, and are high­ly dis­ci­plined. Not to men­tion that you can effi­cient­ly work under pres­sure, a qual­i­ty that will sig­nif­i­cant­ly help you when it comes to tak­ing your exams.

Accel­er­at­ed pro­grams are fast-paced and require you to be quick on your feet, absorb­ing high amounts of infor­ma­tion fast. As a sol­dier, you like­ly had to do the same thing: adapt to a con­stant­ly chang­ing envi­ron­ment, adhere to a strict sched­ule, and absorb all kinds of intel that you could use for your next mil­i­tary mis­sions. This makes accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing edu­ca­tion for vet­er­ans a suit­able choice, as the envi­ron­ment can be quite stressful.


Overview of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing cours­es are health­care train­ing pro­grams that pre­pare you for a career as a nurse. The dif­fer­ence between these pro­grams and the tra­di­tion­al type is that you should be done in about two years instead of fin­ish­ing the cours­es in four years. If you go for even more inten­sive pro­grams with few­er breaks, you can get your degree in as lit­tle as one year.

Tra­di­tion­al degrees are often ori­ent­ed towards stu­dents with no pri­or knowl­edge. When it comes to accel­er­at­ed cours­es, the focus is more on prac­tice, using your expe­ri­ence or pre­vi­ous edu­ca­tion to offer your degree. As a vet­er­an, accel­er­at­ed degrees will use your mil­i­tary skills in nurs­ing to teach you how to take care of civil­ian patients instead.

Benefits of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Here are some of the vet­er­an edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits that you can enjoy by join­ing an accel­er­at­ed program:

1. Reduced Studying Duration

Unlike tra­di­tion­al options, fast-track nurs­ing degrees for vet­er­ans offer a more con­densed cur­ricu­lum. You’ll still be learn­ing all the essen­tial points but in a short­er time­frame com­pared to stan­dard alter­na­tives. You’ll com­plete your class­es in four years rather than get­ting your degree in four years or so. This can be quite ben­e­fi­cial for those who want to start their new job fast, wast­ing no pre­cious moments until they can earn their own income.

2. Veteran-Specific Financial Aid

The good news about being a vet­er­an is that if you do not have the mon­ey, plen­ty of finan­cial aid options are specif­i­cal­ly designed to cov­er tuition. This can include the GI Bill, the Yel­low Rib­bon pro­gram, and plen­ty of oth­er nurs­ing schol­ar­ships for vet­er­ans. Fed­er­al pro­grams offer some of them, where­as oth­ers can be found at local orga­ni­za­tions. You just need to research them to find the one that cov­ers as much of your tuition as possible.

3. Veteran-Oriented Support Systems

These accel­er­at­ed degrees were made to make your vet­er­an career tran­si­tion as smooth as pos­si­ble. They usu­al­ly come with com­pre­hen­sive sup­port sys­tems that can address your unique needs, aca­d­e­m­ic advis­ing, and vet­er­an-ori­ent­ed sup­port net­works. These sys­tems cater to your unique needs and back­ground, offer­ing as much poten­tial for suc­cess as pos­si­ble once you get your degree.

Role of Healthcare Administrators in Supporting Veteran Nursing Students

Health­care admin­is­tra­tion plays an essen­tial role in ensur­ing their edu­ca­tion­al pro­grams are high­ly sup­port­ive of a veteran’s needs. For this rea­son, their role is to offer:

1. Specialized Program Design

Vet­er­ans in nurs­ing have picked up cer­tain skills and expe­ri­ences on the front­line that the aver­age civil­ian may not have had. For instance, an army nurse or doc­tor will have like­ly picked up lead­er­ship train­ing skills, abil­i­ties to make deci­sions in high-stress envi­ron­ments, and more. These can be pre­cious qual­i­ties, and health­care admin­is­tra­tors should acknowl­edge and build on them. This improves their edu­ca­tion­al expe­ri­ence sig­nif­i­cant­ly and makes it more rel­e­vant and engag­ing based on their circumstances.

2. Support Network Creation

Mil­i­tary vet­er­ans in health­care might find it chal­leng­ing to tran­si­tion to the rules and cus­toms of civil­ian life, pri­mar­i­ly if they’ve been ser­vic­ing for years. Whether or not they are in good health men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly, they might need some help to re-accom­mo­date with an envi­ron­ment that has no war in it. For this rea­son, health­care admin­is­tra­tors offer sup­port net­work oppor­tu­ni­ties such as peer net­work­ing, stu­dent orga­ni­za­tions for vet­er­ans, and even men­tor­ships. This can give vet­er­ans a sense of belong­ing and com­mu­ni­ty, improv­ing their abil­i­ty to per­form in the new environment.

3. Access to Resources and Counseling

One of the things about vet­er­ans is that around 7 per­cent of them will be deal­ing with PTSD by the time their ser­vice comes to an end. Tran­si­tion­ing into the civil­ian world may be chal­leng­ing, con­sid­er­ing what they had to endure as sol­diers. For this rea­son, health­care admin­is­tra­tors should offer vet­er­ans access to coun­sel­ing and resources. This could make their vet­er­an to BSN jour­ney much eas­i­er, as they have all the tools to keep them­selves well-adjusted.

Challenges and Considerations to Remember

As a vet­er­an in an accel­er­at­ed study set­ting, you might find adjust­ing to a civil­ian accel­er­at­ed study pro­gram dif­fi­cult. For instance, while you may be used to the fast pace of the army, chances are that it’s been a long time since you’ve last been in a class­room. Accom­mo­dat­ing to study­ing on cue might be dif­fi­cult, caus­ing sig­nif­i­cant stress. Reunit­ing with your fam­i­ly can also be stress­ful, as you’ll pick up more respon­si­bil­i­ties when you return home.

Health­care admin­is­tra­tors offer edu­ca­tion­al sup­port for vet­er­ans to help them suc­ceed in this fast-paced envi­ron­ment. Ori­en­ta­tion pro­grams are made to help vet­er­ans accli­mate to the new sit­u­a­tion, and peer men­tor­ship is often arranged as well. Pair­ing stu­dents with vet­er­an alum­ni can also make it eas­i­er to go past these challenges.

Future Outlook

The edu­ca­tion­al land­scape has con­tin­u­ous­ly improved in the past years, with the recent­ly intro­duced Vet­er­ans Edu­ca­tion Is Time­less Act of 2023 offer­ing sig­nif­i­cant help. Regard­less of age, vet­er­ans can now opt for edu­ca­tion ben­e­fits, cre­at­ing a new career path. This act extends to accel­er­at­ed pro­grams as well.

Vet­er­ans were hired in numer­ous states to fill var­i­ous posi­tions after the pan­dem­ic, a trend that is like­ly to increase. Hos­pi­tal admin­is­tra­tors are look­ing for vet­er­an health­care lead­er­ship and their abil­i­ty to think quick­ly on their feet, a qual­i­ty that is essen­tial in a nurse. With Vet­er­ans Affairs con­stant­ly set­ting goals for hir­ing more vet­er­an nurs­es, your chances of get­ting a job should be rel­a­tive­ly high.

The Bottom Line

If you are pur­su­ing civil­ian careers for vet­er­ans, you will be glad to find out that you no longer have to spend years in a class­room. You can get your degree in a year or two, thanks to accel­er­at­ed pro­grams. Health­care admin­is­tra­tors should con­tin­ue sup­port­ing the devel­op­ment of these accel­er­at­ed pro­grams so that vet­er­ans can get the edu­ca­tion they deserve.

While the sup­port for vet­er­ans is still lim­it­ed com­pared to oth­er minori­ties, the health­care edu­ca­tion sec­tor is chang­ing. It is up to us now to advo­cate for vet­er­ans receiv­ing all the nec­es­sary sup­port­ive mea­sures. This should help them inte­grate much faster into civil­ian life.


Nation­al Library of Medicine

US Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs

US House of Representatives

VA News