A caring profession committed to core values such as altruism, autonomy, integrity, and social justice, nursing offers many rewarding career paths. Florida's accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs give aspiring nurses the medical skills to serve in areas such as intensive or emergency care, community health, mental health, and neonatal care.
Students who complete a bachelor's degree in another field can pursue a second-degree BSN program. These programs typically entail 50-60 credits and take 12-15 months to complete. Accelerated nursing programs in Florida often include courses during fall, winter, spring, and summer months. Applicants must demonstrate successful academic performance (usually 3.0 minimum GPA) in a prior bachelor's program and in several nursing prerequisite courses.
Nursing salaries and job prospects often vary by role, employer, and sector, but registered nurses (RNs) consistently earn higher salaries and enjoy higher growth projections for all occupations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earned a median annual salary of $73,300 in 2019. The BLS projects jobs for RNs to grow 7% between 2019 and 2029.
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What Can I Do With a Degree in Nursing?
Top nursing schools in Florida focus on foundational nursing skills, including critical thinking, decision-making, communication, and attention to detail. BSN programs meet educational requirements for RN licensure and prepare nurses to care for diverse populations, including children and mothers, aging adults, mentally ill and chronically ill adults, and people from various backgrounds.
Depending on their specializations, interests, and aptitudes, nursing degree graduates choose from dozens of nursing-related careers in multiple fields and contexts. BSN graduates interested in fast-paced nursing work often pursue jobs as emergency room nurses, paramedics, or transplant or surgery nurses. Graduates interested in public health often work in community health clinics or participate in public health research. Some nurses work in niche fields such as pediatrics, cosmetology, home health, and hospice.
Nurses interested in travel can find high-paying, temporary contracts in various locations around the world. Some BSN graduates pursue master's or doctoral degrees that qualify them for nursing management, research, and teaching careers.
Graduate Degree Options for a Career in Nursing
Some BSN graduates pursue more advanced degrees that can prepare them for promotion, salary advancement, or career transition. Unlike the accelerated BSN, the master of science in nursing (MSN) allows nurses to specialize in fields such as gerontology, midwifery, or anesthesiology.
BSN graduates seeking master's degrees often enroll in two-year BSN-to-MSN programs that include core skills in advanced patient care, evidence-based practice, and health assessment. These programs often require 200-600 clinical practice hours. Many MSN graduates use this degree to obtain leadership roles, research careers, or access to doctor of nursing practice or Ph.D. in nursing programs.
Many BSN-holders seeking specialization and career advancement use professional certification programs and professional organizations rather than pursuing an advanced degree.
Accreditation for a Degree in Nursing
As you research the best nursing schools and programs in Florida, pay close attention to accreditation. You can use the Department of Education's searchable Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to verify schools' and programs' academic quality. Only enrollees at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.
Students should note that only degrees and credits from regionally accredited schools transfer to other regionally accredited schools. This is because regionally accredited schools meet the higher academic standards applied by regional accrediting agencies. National accrediting agencies serve many professional or religious schools, while regional accreditors evaluate academic colleges and universities.
The best nursing schools in Florida may also feature programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
What Are the Requirements for a Degree in Nursing?
Accelerated second-degree nursing programs in Florida typically require enrollees to possess a prior bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, a 2.5-3.2 minimum GPA, successful performance in prerequisite coursework and sometimes on the Test of Essential Academic Skills or other standardized tests.
Accelerated BSN programs typically follow a designated, sequential curriculum that meets Florida RN educational requirements. Enrollees complete about 60 credits of core coursework that surveys major types of nursing care, such as acute nursing, mental health nursing, and family nursing. Enrollees must complete supervised practicums or internships to graduate.
Courses in a Nursing Program
Accelerated BSN programs at the best nursing schools in Florida do not feature elective or concentration options because these programs follow a set curriculum aligned with Florida nursing education guidelines. The accelerated BSN curriculum covers core topic areas including family health, chronic and aging patient care, mental health care, and public and community health.
Enrollees explore nurses' roles in various situations, contexts, and systems. The best nursing schools in Florida also cultivate scientific understanding of health and nursing by including courses on nursing research. Many nursing courses feature lab, clinical, and practicum components that allow students to develop and hone clinical skills under supervision from experienced nurses.
- Patient-Centered Care: Essentials of Nursing Practice
- One of the first courses taken in many nursing programs in Florida, this course emphasizes clinical skills for wellness promotion and illness prevention. A standard requirement in pre-licensure nursing programs, this course highlights best practices and techniques used for nursing processes, therapeutic communication, and health promotion. Learners gain skills in nursing safety, health education, and care quality. Students learn how to adapt care techniques based on patients' cultural membership.
- Nursing Care of Women, Children, and Family
- Another core requirement in pre-licensure programs, this course covers family care through phases such as childbirth, child development, and parenting. Integrating community, social, and cultural perspectives on the family, this course helps students understand how to encourage health and treat injury or illness within families. Enrollees typically complete a clinical course that includes practicing nursing care in various clinical settings.
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
- This essential course prepares participants to provide nursing care for acutely and chronically mentally ill patients. Course topics include psychopharmacology and psychopathology treatment across the lifespan. Enrollees learn the role that nurses play in mental health care, including collaboration, communication, and referral to community resources. This required course helps BSN students meet educational requirements for RN licensure.
- Public Health Nursing
- This course introduces students to public health nursing issues, strategies, and practices. Focal points include health management, promotion, and prevention. Enrollees learn public health strategies for reducing health risks and supporting health and wellness. Participants also gain clinical experience in diverse communities. Most BSN programs require public health nursing coursework. This subject proves particularly essential for aspiring public health, community service, and clinic managers.
- A core component throughout or at the end of nursing programs in Florida, nursing practicums or internships consist of supervised practice at providing care in approved settings. Faculty, students, and approved agencies work together to set up these practicums that encourage learners to integrate nursing theory with clinical skills and practices.
Certifications and Licensure for Nursing Majors
Nursing majors can enhance their employability and career options by obtaining professional credentials, such as RN licensure. Many nursing positions require official licensure from the state board. Nursing majors can also earn various other nursing-related credentials that demonstrate specialized knowledge and skills. See below for three credential options for nursing majors.
Professional Organizations for Nursing Students
Professional organizations offer many benefits to nursing students, including scholarships, career guidance, and networking opportunities. These organizations run conferences, publish resources, and provide continuing education and professional certifications. See below for a sampling of the many nursing-related professional organizations available.
Scholarships for Nursing Students
Nursing students can apply for scholarships awarded based on financial need, academic performance, or group membership. Granted by various public or private funders, these scholarships vary widely in award amount and do not require repayment. Nursing students should consider applying to the scholarships below.