Fast-Track Nursing Degrees for Working Healthcare Professionals

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Key Infor­ma­tion:

  • Fast-track nurs­ing pro­grams can be com­plet­ed in as lit­tle as 11–18 months, allow­ing work­ing pro­fes­sion­als to advance their careers swiftly.
  • These degrees pri­or­i­tize essen­tial nurs­ing skills and clin­i­cal train­ing, prepar­ing grad­u­ates for RN licen­sure and imme­di­ate patient care roles.
  • With a fast-track nurs­ing degree, health­care pro­fes­sion­als can qual­i­fy for high­er-pay­ing roles, lead­er­ship posi­tions, and spe­cial­ized nurs­ing fields more quickly.
  • Los Ange­les Pacif­ic Uni­ver­si­ty and Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da offer a top accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degree.

If you work in the health­care indus­try, you’ve prob­a­bly seen many peo­ple with a nurs­ing job and rec­og­nized the appeal. You’ve worked along­side them for enough time to get knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence, but your bachelor’s degree is nowhere near this domain. You could take the leap if you get your bachelor’s degree in nurs­ing, but you don’t have four years to spend on your studies.

As such a work­ing pro­fes­sion­al, you’ve prob­a­bly also heard of the alter­na­tive: the accel­er­at­ed degree path. That said, you might not know what to expect from this pro­gram and whether or not it is the right choice for you. As a result, this arti­cle should answer your ques­tions so you can decide if you should pur­sue it or not.


What Is a Fast-Track Nursing Degree?

A fast-track nurs­ing degree pro­gram is designed for those with bachelor’s degrees in a dif­fer­ent field who want to switch to nurs­ing. For instance, if you work in the admin­is­tra­tive sec­tor of the health­care domain, a nurs­ing degree could take you from work­ing at the recep­tion to deal­ing with patients. You pay by the semes­ter, but you could also cov­er it with finan­cial aid for nurses.

Unlike the tra­di­tion­al Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence in Nurs­ing (BSN), which takes four years to com­plete, accel­er­at­ed pro­grams require only 11 to 18 months. Accel­er­at­ed BSN can offer what you need if you are only look­ing for an entry-lev­el pro­gram. How­ev­er, if you want advanced edu­ca­tion, you should go for direct entry MSN pro­grams, which end with a master’s degree.

Benefits of Fast-Track Nursing Degrees

When it comes to get­ting nurs­ing edu­ca­tion for health­care work­ers, there are mul­ti­ple ben­e­fits that you might be able to enjoy, including:

1. Time-Efficient for a Busy Schedule

As some­one work­ing in health­care, you might have noticed that this envi­ron­ment is quite busy, with plen­ty of over­time. Join­ing a tra­di­tion­al pro­gram might be out of the ques­tion since you already have so many hours to clock in. Accel­er­at­ed class­es have faster com­ple­tion, which could make it eas­i­er for you in the long run. 

2. Opportunities for Career Advancements

When you don’t have a bachelor’s degree in nurs­ing, chances are you won’t be able to advance in your career. A bachelor’s degree from an accel­er­at­ed pro­gram can open career oppor­tu­ni­ties in nurs­ing, help­ing you earn more. 

3. Salary Increase Potential

Even if you are already work­ing as a nurse or some­one with a sim­i­lar role in health­care, you might only be able to enjoy the min­i­mum salary for the domain. Nurs­ing edu­ca­tion for health­care work­ers could end with a poten­tial­ly salary-chang­ing degree, allow­ing them to earn more than before.

Challenges and Considerations

Despite the numer­ous ben­e­fits of fast-track nurs­ing degrees, there are also a few chal­lenges to con­sid­er. Before obtain­ing your advanced nurs­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tions, you might go through the following:

1. Difficulty in Obtaining Life Balance

As a health­care work­er, your sched­ule is prob­a­bly busy enough as it is. By adding class­es to the mix, you would prob­a­bly have a dif­fi­cult time bal­anc­ing work and nurs­ing school, along with your per­son­al life. With­out a prop­er sup­port sys­tem, this might be a chal­lenge for you.

2. Hefty Financial Investment

Depend­ing on the pro­gram you opt for, tuition per year could be around $20,000. Unless you have a sav­ings account or access to nurs­ing schol­ar­ships for pro­fes­sion­als, pay­ing for the class­es might be challenging.

3. Intensive Coursework

Although the cours­es take less time to com­plete, it does not mean you have less to study. The class­es are con­densed and inten­sive so that you can go through them faster. This might seem over­whelm­ing for some, espe­cial­ly if they already work long and tire­some hours.

Eligibility and Admission Requirements

In terms of nurs­ing degree eli­gi­bil­i­ty and admis­sion require­ments, there are a few doc­u­ments you should sub­mit, including:

1. Bachelor’s Degree

Unlike oth­er accel­er­at­ed pro­grams that only require a high school diplo­ma, the ones for nurs­ing require you to have a bachelor’s degree. It does not need to be in the nurs­ing domain, but the degree (and per­haps a min­i­mum GPA) might be required as the pro­gram was designed for work­ing professionals.

2. Standardized Test Scores

While not every pro­gram asks for it, you might be required to pro­vide stan­dard­ized test scores. This could include your Test of Essen­tial Aca­d­e­m­ic Skills (TSE) or Grad­u­ate Record Exam­i­na­tion (GRE).

3. Prerequisite Courses

Some of the high­ly rat­ed accel­er­at­ed bachelor’s degree pro­grams could also require you to com­plete cer­tain pre­req­ui­site cours­es. The most com­mon are micro­bi­ol­o­gy labs, nutri­tion, or gen­er­al psy­chol­o­gy classes.

4. Letters of Recommendation

As accel­er­at­ed class­es are high­er in demand for pro­fes­sion­als, a let­ter of rec­om­men­da­tion could improve your chances of accep­tance. You could ask your supers to write such a let­ter and speak of your work eth­ic along with your aca­d­e­m­ic abilities.

5. Healthcare Experience

This is not manda­to­ry, but it will cer­tain­ly look good on your appli­ca­tion. If you have worked as a med­ical assis­tant before or had a sim­i­lar role in han­dling patients, you should put it on your appli­ca­tion to increase your chances of approval.

6. Certifications

Cer­tain cer­ti­fi­ca­tions could also be required depend­ing on the pro­gram you are going for. For exam­ple, some insti­tu­tions may require you to be cer­ti­fied in per­form­ing CPR or act­ing as a health­care provider. You should check their require­ments before apply­ing and, if pos­si­ble, obtain the nec­es­sary certifications.

Overview of Typical Curriculum

The cur­ricu­lum you might encounter could vary from pro­gram to pro­gram, but there are quite a few com­mon points here and there. Do your research and ensure the accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing pro­grams you’re inter­est­ed in match your goals.

Key Courses and Subjects

Dif­fer­ent accel­er­at­ed nurs­ing degree pro­grams offer var­i­ous sub­jects, includ­ing anato­my and psy­chol­o­gy, phar­ma­col­o­gy, mater­ni­ty and pedi­atrics, and patho­phys­i­ol­o­gy. Accel­er­at­ed class­es are more con­densed in the infor­ma­tion they offer, so the approach would be more inten­sive. You should look into each program’s cur­ricu­lum before nar­row­ing it down to a spe­cif­ic program.

Clinical Requirements

Unlike oth­er accel­er­at­ed class­es that focus most­ly on the the­o­ret­i­cal part and labs, nurs­ing degrees require you to have some clin­i­cal expe­ri­ence as well. This means that along with your class­es, you’ll also have rota­tions in real-life health­care set­tings. Unless you have a spe­cial­ty, you might be required to get your prac­tice in more fields than one, includ­ing sur­gi­cal nurs­ing, psy­chi­a­try, and obstetrics.

Online vs. In-Person Classes

Depend­ing on the insti­tu­tion that you are going to, you might be offered either online or in-per­son class­es. Some may pro­vide online lec­tures, mak­ing them use­ful for stu­dents with a job and a fam­i­ly to bal­ance. Oth­ers offer in-per­son class­es for those who enjoy the hands-on expe­ri­ence. How­ev­er, both will require the clin­i­cal exper­tise men­tioned above. Over­all, you should con­sid­er your learn­ing style before join­ing accel­er­at­ed BSN programs.

Best Programs and Schools Offering Fast-Track Nursing Degrees

The top nurs­ing schools that offer accel­er­at­ed class­es are usu­al­ly part of a uni­ver­si­ty, and each pro­gram is approved by accred­it­ed bod­ies. Some of the most pop­u­lar options include:

1. Pre-Nursing Health Science Program at Los Angeles Pacific University

Those inter­est­ed in online nurs­ing degrees could look into the Pre-Nurs­ing Health Sci­ence pro­gram to get a good start. Most health and nurs­ing-relat­ed degrees require these types of sci­ence-meets-lab class­es. The pro­gram offers lab expe­ri­ence and course­work with a Chris­t­ian world­view, ful­fill­ing numer­ous job prerequisites.

2. Accelerated Nursing Program at the University of Central Florida

If you want a good hybrid pro­gram that offers both in-class and online teach­ing, then the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cen­tral Flori­da pro­vides such an oppor­tu­ni­ty. It’s a 30-cred­it cur­ricu­lum that you can com­plete in as lit­tle as three semes­ters, and tuition is low­er for those who are in-state.

3. RN to BSN Program at Western Carolina University

This is a great pro­gram for those look­ing for nurs­ing career advance­ment. The good news is that stu­dents can enroll part-time, which means leav­ing their day job will not be nec­es­sary. They can con­tin­ue their work while study­ing remote­ly for a poten­tial promotion.

Future Outlook in Nursing

Nurs­es are among the essen­tial per­son­nel in the health­care envi­ron­ment, but the issue is that there are only a few of them. The pan­dem­ic and oth­er events caused plen­ty of nurs­es to look for dif­fer­ent jobs, leav­ing a lot of emp­ty spots in their wake. This led to increased demand, as hos­pi­tals are try­ing to fill those spaces.

More job oppor­tu­ni­ties will appear in the future, which means that a degree obtained now could open new doors in the fol­low­ing years. With salaries steadi­ly increas­ing over the year and expect­ed to grow even more accord­ing to the Bureau of Labor Sta­tis­tics, the domain holds great poten­tial. So, if you want to enter this sec­tor, now is the time!

The Bottom Line

Becom­ing a nurse is not such a dis­tant dream, espe­cial­ly when you use the right approach. The health­care area needs qual­i­fied and skilled nurs­es, so you can start work­ing toward your career. An accel­er­at­ed bachelor’s degree for nurs­es can bring you clos­er to your dream job, at a much faster rate.