If you already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and are planning to go back to school to become a nurse, you probably want to get started as soon as possible. It’s also unlikely you want to spend another four years in school earning your degree.
The good news is: You don’t have to. Instead, you can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months by leveraging your previous degree through an Accelerated BSN track, such as offered by the University of the Incarnate Word (UIW).
However, whether an accelerated nursing track is worth it depends on you. To make the right decision, we’ll be looking at how an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing track works and what makes an ideal ABSN student.
What Is an ABSN?
An Accelerated BSN track allows you to earn the same quality nursing education as a traditional, four-year BSN track, only in significantly less time. It does this by accepting the credits from your previous, non-nursing degree, allowing you to begin your nursing coursework right away. That is, of course, as long as you meet the prerequisite requirements, which we’ll discuss in a moment.
Like most Accelerated BSN offerings, the 16-month track at UIW blends online coursework with hands-on labs and clinicals — providing what many career changers would consider the best of both worlds. Additionally, the nursing exams we administer are based on the NCLEX so that you gain familiarity with the style of questions that you’ll encounter on the licensure exam — the final step toward becoming a registered nurse.
Through our Canvas learning management platform, you’ll learn and develop nursing knowledge via online (and offline) reading assignments, group discussions, interactive learning activities, review sessions and more. Not only does this innovative online learning format offer greater flexibility than attending daily lectures, it also allows you to complete your coursework when and where it’s convenient for you, so long as you finish any assignments on time.
Skills and Simulation Labs
While it’s nice to not have to travel to campus every day, there are some things you have to learn in person through hands-on experience, and that’s where the skills and simulation labs at our San Antonio learning site come in. In skills lab, you’ll learn how to check vital signs, conduct physical assessments, insert IVs and catheters, dress wounds, and much more. Simulation lab takes it a step further, bridging the gap between your theory coursework and clinicals.
In simulation lab, you’ll take a leading role in delivering care to a state-of-the-art patient manikin that can talk, bleed, breathe and exhibit a variety of symptoms — all controlled by the lab instructor behind a two-way mirror. Following these sessions, you and your lab group will debrief to find out what went right and what needs tweaking, allowing you to learn from your mistakes and each other.
Beginning the very first semester, our accelerated nursing students attend more than 900 hours of clinical rotations at a variety of locations around San Antonio, ensuring you graduate a practice-ready nurse. During your first clinical experience, you’ll focus on promoting health, reducing risk, and preventing illness for individuals, families and communities; however, as your education progresses, you’ll become increasingly involved in the hands-on care of patients. Don’t worry, though; your clinical instructor will keep a close eye over your small clinical group. These clinical rotations not only give you a wealth of real-life nursing experience, but also many opportunities to network with working nurses.
Who Is an Accelerated Nursing Track For?
Our accredited Accelerated BSN track is designed to provide second-degree students a faster, more direct path to a career in nursing. However, not just anyone with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can get started right away. While our accelerated track builds on your existing college credits so you can focus exclusively on the nursing curriculum, your previous degree has a big impact on how soon you can start.
That’s because we require nursing students to have taken several prerequisite courses prior to enrollment:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Biological Chemistry for Health Professions
- Probability and Statistics
- Lifespan Development
Each of these courses plays an important role in your nursing education, providing the background knowledge you need to understand essential nursing concepts and to work with patients with a variety of backgrounds and needs. For example, biology and chemistry will help prepare you for, among other courses, pharmacology. Meanwhile, you’ll lean on your knowledge of nutrition when educating patients about their diet , and so forth.
That doesn’t mean you will need to take these courses, though. Depending on your previous degree, you may already have taken them, especially if you have a bachelor of science background.
In addition to completing the prereqs, applicants must also have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in their undergraduate coursework, achieve a proficient score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) and complete a criminal background check.
However, whether you meet the ABSN requirements alone does not guarantee our accelerated nursing track is right for you. To be successful, you need to possess certain traits.
Characteristics of a Successful ABSN Student
The ideal Accelerated BSN track student must also be:
- Ambitious — Earning your BSN in as few as 16 months might seem tough, but it is very doable. However, ambition is a must, otherwise you’re going to get tired of nursing school fast.
- Curious — Great nurses don’t just learn the material they’re assigned, they dig deeper to better understand conditions, medications, practices and so on — because they are genuinely interested in the field of nursing.
- Motivated — Especially with online coursework, where you have flexibility in when you complete the coursework, you have to be a self-starter. The best nursing students work ahead whenever possible, because they know there’s always more to do and learn.
- Dedicated — It’s a good thing for all of us that nursing school isn’t easy. Becoming a nurse takes a lot of time and effort. With weekly assignments, labs, clinicals, exams and quizzes all occupying your time, you should plan to spend around 40 hours a week on your nursing studies.
- Organized — There’s a lot to keep track of in nursing school — notes, assignments, lab and clinical dates, exams, etc. — making it essential that you are well organized. It’s for this reason that most nursing students swear by calendars and other personal planners to keep track of everything.
Are You Called to a Life of Caring?
As you can see, accelerated nursing is worth it as long as you meet the requirements and are willing to put in the hard work. If you’re ready to begin your journey toward becoming a nurse, give us a call. When you do, you’ll be assigned a dedicated admissions counselor who will help guide you through every step of the process.