Does It Make Sense to Pursue an Accelerated Nursing Program?
There are both supporters and opposers of accelerated nursing programs in the field, so it’s not easy to determine whether it really does make sense to pursue one. In truth, there are several advantages of accelerated programs, but they may not be applicable to every nurse.
Therefore, the merit of such a course is variable, depending on the nurse’s circumstances, situation, and ambitions. As we highlight some of the main differences between an accelerated and a regular nursing program, it should be easier for students to choose the path most suited for their own career goals.
The primary difference between regular nursing programs and accelerated courses is their target audience. Regular nursing programs are primarily meant for students fresh out of high school, but accelerated programs cater to a specific crowd, namely, individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree in one or more non-nursing fields. For example, Baylor University offers accelerated nursing programs online for undergrad students coming from a different field. The student’s prior degree allows them to forego some of the introductory courses and complete their BSN faster, without missing out on anything.
As the phrase itself suggests, accelerated nursing programs are a lot shorter than regular courses of a similar caliber. The difference in length between accelerated and regular nursing programs varies, depending on the nursing school, the program, and the student’s own qualifications. However, an accelerated course will always be invariably shorter than the regular one by default.
For example, it only takes 12 to 24 months for bachelor’s degree holders to complete most accelerated BSN programs online. A regular BSN course, on the other hand, will take no less than four years to be completed, irrespective of your prior experience or degree. For RNs who do not yet have a BSN, accelerated online programs can be completed even faster than usual, on account of their field experience.
There is no denying that traditional nursing course attendees and accelerated, online nursing program attendees are going to have significantly different experiences. Although practical classes are part of accelerated courses as well, these courses do rely mostly on the internet. A regular course, on the other hand, does offer a lot more in terms of practical experience in school.
In the long term though, this may become an advantage for the accelerated BSN students. Because they will finish their coursework faster, it is likely that they would already start on a job and gain significant professional experience by the time nurses from regular programs in the same batch complete their coursework.
Those who pursue their accelerated nursing programs online usually find their education to be much more affordable, as compared to the fees charged by regular, fulltime nursing schools. The fees are cheaper because an accelerated program is a shortened course, requiring only half the time, or even one-fourth of the time necessary for completing regular nursing programs of similar nature. No credible institution can charge the same fee for a course that lasts a fraction of the time necessary to complete their regular counterparts.
Aside from that, there is also the advantage of saving on commuting expenses. You will still have to attend practical classes and training, but the bulk of your coursework will be completed via remote classes. If you calculate how much money you should be able to save by not having to pay for regular commuting to and from the nursing school for four long years, the amount should be substantial. Even if you decide to stay nearby and cut out the commute, you will lose even more money in rent and living expenses for four years. Combine all these factors and it should become obvious that completing accelerated nursing programs online is going to be a lot cheaper.
If you have the opportunity, or rather the qualifications to join an accelerated nursing program, it puts you at an advantage in terms of earning potentials as well. It’s a shorter course which holds the same value as its regular counterpart. You should be able to join a nursing job, gain some experience and even pay off a portion of your student loan in four years. Therefore, there are two advantages of the accelerated nursing program here. First, you get a head start on earning, and second, you will already be earning more than a regular nursing school graduate by the time they join their first job.
Point of Caution
Online courses are more accessible, but they also come with an element of danger if you are not careful. There is no shortage of unaccredited nursing schools online to take advantage of that lapse in judgement. The problematic scenario is that the legitimacy of unaccredited, online nursing schools is somewhat dubious. They may operate in some states, as long as the establishment does not falsely claim to be accredited.
For the students though, wasting years at an unaccredited nursing school could be devastating. If the degree certificates are not provided by an accredited nursing school, they will not be held as valid by any respectable healthcare organization. Understand that accreditation is far more important in any field of education today, rather than whether your medium of study was online or offline.
Consequently, students could end up with a huge debt and a certificate that has little to no value at all. Avoid this by double checking all online and offline nursing schools you are looking at. Even if they claim to be accredited, check with the accreditation board mentioned, just to be sure. If the nursing school is indeed registered with their claimed accreditor, their name should be present on the accreditation board’s official website.
Now that you know what to expect, making an informed decision on your own should be easier. The question is not as much about whether accelerated nursing programs offer any advantages, as it is about whether those advantages are applicable to you.