They say a job is more or less like a relationship. Sometimes, the two of you grow but in different directions. You may have been passionate about a certain degree or career field up until now but believe it’s time to make a switch.

People and their desires evolve radically over time, but a career change is often daunting. This is especially true when you want to move from a non-nursing field to a nursing career – is it the right choice?

It is the ideal time to become a nurse because the American Hospital Association found that manpower shortages in nursing are expected to continue until concerted efforts are made to bridge labor gaps. As many as 100,000 Registered Nurses (RNs) across the US left their jobs in the past two years owing to retirements and burnout. Hence, the demand for nursing professionals is on the rise.

Plus, if you do not wish to spend years on your nursing degree, there are accelerated nursing programs that can help fast-track your career change. But is the fast lane really for you, and what can you expect in the process? In this article, we will discuss the answers to these important questions.

How Does an Accelerated Nursing Program Work?

Accelerated nursing programs are designed to help non-nursing students switch to nursing without having to start from square one. Additionally, working nurses can quickly advance their careers within a short span (just 15 to 16 months) by pursuing these programs.

Ideally, an online and hybrid ABSN program or Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing comes with 100% online coursework along with on-campus immersions and direct patient care clinical hours that equip you thoroughly for challenging, real-life scenarios.

According to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, the coursework is a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning for collaborative opportunities, equitable participation, and a tailored learning experience. Students also get to apply what they’ve learned online through clinical rotations under a licensed nurse preceptor. The advantage of this process is that all clinical experiences are unique as students work in diverse settings with patients who need dynamic healthcare.

So, accelerated nursing programs are as much evidence-based practice as a full-time traditional degree.

Reasons Why Accelerated Nursing Programs are an Attractive Option

Let’s look at all the reasons why accelerated nursing programs are worth the hype.

1. They are Truly Accelerated

Let’s start by mentioning the most obvious benefit of an accelerated nursing degree – the opportunity to kickstart your career quickly. In most cases, the program only lasts for a little over a year, and with the required time and effort, you should be able to become a nurse right after graduating.

2. Program Duration Offsets Costs

Accelerated nursing programs only look expensive on their surface. When you factor in the opportunity costs, these programs are much more affordable than traditional nursing degrees.

Just think about it – you will spend more time as a student with the latter, meaning the return on your educational investment will take much longer. With accelerated nursing programs, you have the chance to enter the workforce faster and recoup the costs.

3. A Diverse Student Pool

The student force for accelerated nursing programs normally involves a diverse set of individuals from both nursing and non-nursing backgrounds. You will come across like-minded, motivated peers with different expertise and skills. This offers a unique learning environment that traditional nursing programs cannot usually offer.

4. No Loss of Focus

Traditional nursing programs often come with extended vacations and summer breaks. Though these are good opportunities to take some respite from learning, there’s a chance these breaks may dampen your motivation. Accelerated nursing programs come with back-to-back courses that keep students on their toes from the beginning to the end.

5. Better Career Prospects

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average annual income of people with a Bachelor’s degree is $59,600 in the US. However, graduates who get their Registered Nurse license through an ABSN program can earn much higher than that ($82,750 on average). The salaries may go even higher depending upon the US state.

One reason why your earning potential improves is that you can easily get into one of the esteemed Magnet hospitals. They are the gold standard when it comes to nursing and innovation and often require well-trained nurses with a Bachelor’s degree.

Plus, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed in its Occupational Outlook Handbook that employment for RNs is projected to grow at a rate of 6% between 2021 and 2030. To put things into perspective, that’s an average of 203,200 openings each year. The maximum number of openings will be in geriatric nursing, given the aging population. There has never been a better time to choose nursing as a career!

Questions Non-Nursing Students Must Ask Before Enrolment

If you’re from a non-nursing background, switching to an accelerated nursing degree is a radical change. It is best to tread carefully and ask yourself some important questions that will help you determine if this is the right move.

1. Why Do I Want to Become a Nurse?

Start by asking yourself the ‘why’ of nursing every student must ask at some point. If you wish to switch to nursing because of the high demand in the field and a good-paying salary, it’s time to reconsider your decision.

While nursing involves these perks, it is also a challenging field demanding intense physical, mental, and emotional exertion. Successful registered nurses use their passion for taking care of people as a career motivation.

2. Am I Familiar with the Demands Involved?

Perhaps you want to become a licensed nurse so you can help improve patient care. Before you commit to a rigorous nursing course, try volunteering in a healthcare setting where you can observe registered nurses in action. It will help you understand whether you’re familiar with a day in the life of a nurse, and the demands involved in the process.

3. How Much of a People Person Am I?

Healthcare in itself is a people’s industry. For a significant portion of their day, nurses spend time with patients and their caregivers. These people are often sick, afraid, and in need of constant care and reassurance. It can sometimes be difficult, but with patience, kindness, and compassion, you should be able to treat every patient as valuable as they are.

4. Am I Resilient?

Both nursing as a course and a career require much resilience, whether you choose to become a physical or a mental health nurse. Besides the usual paperwork, every day is unpredictable, with unforeseen situations and emergency scenarios.

As for the coursework, accelerated programs are rigorous and involve back-to-back sessions and clinical trials. You need to develop a tough skin to not be overcome by setbacks and disappointments.

5. Am I Committed to Becoming a Life-Long Learner?

Healthcare is an ever-evolving sector, and major advancements have taken place since 2020. Nurses need to constantly upgrade their skills to keep abreast with the changes. If you’re committed to conducting current research, adapting new skills, and helping patients with the latest healthcare knowledge, consider switching to nursing.

Final Thoughts

McKinsey conducted a study in 2023 on the state of the current nursing labor force. It was shockingly found that one-third of nurses surveyed are on the verge of leaving their jobs. As a result, hospitals across the US are setting up employee well-being centers with facilities like aromatherapy, snacks, AR/VR headsets, etc. to help nurses take time out and relax.

Nurses’ mental health is being given a high priority, along with safer working conditions through the patient/visitor code of conduct at the entrances. As the scenario of nursing gradually changes and becomes more conducive to working, now is the best time for you to pursue an accelerated nursing program and become a licensed registered nurse.