The clinical practice required for an accelerated BSN remains a critical part of the overall educational process for candidates entering the nursing field. Referred to as “fast-tracking”, many accredited nursing programs implement accelerated curricula to help meet the increasing demands for licensed, registered nurses nationwide. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, or AACN, provides guidelines for accredited, accelerated BSN programs, including the incorporation of clinical practice into fast-tracked degree requirements.
Who are Accelerated BSN Candidates?
Typical candidates for accelerated BSN degrees, referred to as “second degree students”, already hold an undergraduate degree, usually in a non-nursing discipline. These fast-track BSN candidates tend to be older and currently employed or volunteering in health-related occupations, including: emergency medical services, biology or science teaching, medical office management, radiology or other health technician fields. Still, other candidates may hold an associate’s degree in nursing and are looking to enhance career opportunities by completing a BSN program.
How Long Does it Take to Acquire an Accelerated BSN Degree?
Traditional BSN programs require a minimum of four years of study and practicum experience at an accredited university. Specializing in particular areas of nursing may entail additional study and internship time. For those obtaining an accelerated BSN degree, many of the prerequisites are already established through previous undergraduate education or actual work experience. As a result, most accelerated BSN candidates finish their programs in under two years, with some students completing requirements in as little as 11 months.
What Can Candidates Expect from an Accelerated BSN Program?
Due to the compressed time frame, candidates in accelerated BSN programs should expect rigorous coursework and a fast-paced, full-time schedule. The clinical practice required for an accelerated BSN covers the same amount of time as for traditional entry-level nursing programs. Some candidates may leave employment to devote their efforts to the degree full-time and some may pursue an online degree that allows them the flexibility to work full or part time. Those employed in health-related fields may find ways to integrate BSN training within their present work environment. In fact, many healthcare employers encourage and support current employees to complete BSN degrees by working around class schedules, offering financial aid, and providing on-site, clinical practice opportunities. There are also numerous online options for students to consider
What are the Educational Requirements for an Accelerated BSN Degree?
Depending on the undergraduate transcripts, background experiences, and specialization choices of BSN candidates, degree components may vary. However, by the end of accelerated BSN programs, all students are expected to demonstrate competencies in:
- Professional nursing care, ethics and legal standards.
- Evidence based nursing practices stemming from research and statistics.
- Epidemiology, pathophysiology and pharmacology.
- Obstetric, pediatric, adolescent, adult and geriatric practices.
- Mental health development and concerns among diverse cultures and varied age populations.
- Completion of 700-1000 clinical hours, depending on specialization area.
The demand for more nurses is on the rise, most notably in specialized areas such as critical care, pediatrics, gerontology, and clinical research. Coursework for an accelerated BSN is rigorous and time intensive, but well worth the career advancement opportunities. Candidates should keep this in mind when choosing fast-tracked, accredited programs with the clinical practice required for an accelerated BSN.