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Friday, 3 January 2014

Career Options: Accelerated Nursing Degrees

There is a growing need for qualified nurses the world over. As of this writing, the United States has been in the midst of a nursing shortage for several years, and United Kingdom is also reporting serious shortages of qualified nursing staff.

In fact, the Royal College of Nursing released a report in 2012, titled Overstretched. Under-resourced, reviewing the state of the labour market.

Although there is a serious need for nurses, many countries have increased the requirements for becoming a nurse. In the United States, there was a time where simply taking some nursing courses , and passing the LPN or RN exam, was enough. In the UK, all you needed was a nursing diploma.

But medicine, and by extension nursing, has changed a lot over the years. Several medical advances have expanded the nurse’s role as caregiver and healthcare practitioner. Additionally, there is also a greater demand for specialty nurses, such as geriatric and psychiatric nurses.

All of these expanded duties require nurses with greater education and advanced degrees. Nowadays, many places won’t even consider a nursing candidate if they do not have at least a Bachelor’s degree, or the equivalent, and a lot would prefer a Master’s or above. If you are currently working as an LPN, returning to school and getting a higher degree can vastly improve your chances for advancement.

Whether you are just starting out, or looking to boost your marketability, going to school can be costly and time-consuming. However, an accelerated nursing program could help you get the training and degree you need in half the time.

How An Accelerated Degree Works

New Nursing Students

As a new nursing student, you would first need to complete the basic nursing training, including your clinical rotations. The basic training could take one to two years.

Once you complete your training, you should be eligible to take the RN exam, and actually work in a healthcare setting. This will give you the opportunity to earn some money to support yourself, and give you the hands on exposure you need to complete the next phase of your education.

While you are working in the healthcare field, you can enrol in an accelerated nursing program, which will put you on track to earn a Bachelor of Nursing degree.

Current Nurses

As a current nurse, you should have already completed much of the basic coursework you need. All you would then need to do is enrol in an accelerated program to get your Bachelor’s degree.

Finding a Programme

Many programmes are available online, so geographic location isn’t as much of a concern. However, you do need to make sure the program is recognized and accredited in the state or country in which you want to practice.

Most schools should tell you where they are accredited and you can find this information either by calling the school directly, or checking the school’s website. For example, the home page for the nursing program at Gwynedd Mercy U lists the programme’s accreditations right on the page. Kaplan University does not, and would require a phone call to get that information.

Advantages to Accelerated programs

New Students

By getting an Associate’s degree, then enrolling in an accelerated program, you can begin working once you earn the Associates and pass the necessary tests. If you go straight for a Bachelor’s degree, you would have to wait up to four years before you can begin earning money. The accelerated degree also shortens the time you need to spend in the Bachelor’s program. You could earn your bachelors, and increase your earning potential, within two years, instead of the usual four.

Current Nurses

You can earn your Bachelor's degree faster than if you had started over from scratch. Also, enrolling in an accelerated program could improve your current work situation by making you eligible for more advanced jobs, contingent upon finishing your degree.

For Everyone

Because many accelerated programs are offered online, you can take classes when it fits your schedule, not theirs.

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