The American Association of Colleges on Nursing projects a shortage of nursing professionals, which may lead to career opportunities for individuals with a bachelor's in nursing. Many accredited colleges and universities throughout the country offer accelerated nursing programs, which require less time than traditional programs. Students with an associate degree can enroll in accelerated RN-to-BSN programs, which generally take 1-2 years to complete.
Online RN-to-BSN programs require the same amount of effort and focus as on-campus programs. Online learners must apply discipline and time-management skills to their learning experience. Students can earn an online bachelor's in nursing at an accelerated pace to enter the workforce or qualify for promotions more quickly.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for RNs to increase 7% from 2019-2029, a rate faster than the average for all occupations. This projected growth rate translates to more than 220,000 new nursing jobs. After earning the necessary credentials, graduates of online nursing programs often have plenty of opportunities for career advancement.
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Fastest Online Bachelor's in Nursing Programs 2020
Many of the country's top nursing schools offer online undergraduate and graduate nursing programs that students can complete in 1-2 years. The following ranking can help learners choose a program that fits their academic and career goals.[rankingsl gid=2PACX-1vRSpQl3Oa39RWI6NRKNgQVr9z_PEinZzQcMGpEahsPo0vCkm9UMUGKRp2hBKOnFWUk6yRAW1UB44AJ7]
|BOTTOM 10%||MEDIAN ANNUAL SALARY||TOP 10%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Accreditation for Fast Nursing Programs
Independent accreditors evaluate U.S. colleges and universities to determine the quality of their academic programs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the voluntary accreditation process.
ED and CHEA recognize six regional accrediting agencies for postsecondary institutions. Regional accreditation is the oldest and most prestigious type of institutional accreditation in the United States. A degree from an accredited school demonstrates to prospective employers that the candidate is prepared for professional roles and responsibilities in their field.
In addition to ensuring that employers and other institutions recognize your degree, attending an accredited school is necessary to qualify for federal financial aid.
Along with institutional accreditation, prospective students can look for programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing evaluate nursing programs.
Licensing in Nursing
After completing an accredited program and required training hours, aspiring RNs can qualify to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN). All states require registered nurses to hold a license, and the state nursing board typically oversees the licensure process.
Although all states require candidates for licensure to pass the NCLEX-RN, each state maintains additional requirements. For example, in Texas, a nursing graduate can work as a graduate nurse while waiting to take the NCLEX-RN or while waiting for their exam results. Texas candidates must also undergo a criminal background check. Applicants pay a licensure fee and an exam fee, and candidates must sit for the NCLEX-RN within 75 days of receiving notice of their eligibility
In the past, nurses who moved to another state had to obtain a license in the new state in order to practice. The Nurse Licensure Compact, enacted in 1997, is a reciprocity agreement that allows nurses to practice in participating states without obtaining a new license. More than 30 states currently participate in the compact, and several states are awaiting implementation or legislation.
Courses in an Accelerated Program
Many on-campus and online RN-to-BSN programs require similar courses. Nursing students must typically take research and academic writing classes, in addition to completing nursing courses and hands-on training. Some programs offer specialized classes in areas such as health administration, informatics, and healthcare across the lifespan. Although curricula vary by school, the courses below are common to many accredited RN-to-BSN programs.
- Community-Focused Nursing
- Students in this course examine the effect of healthcare policies and regulatory requirements on the delivery and quality of community-based health services. Coursework focuses on the promotion of population health and community healthcare planning. Students learn how nurses can leverage community-based agencies to prevent and contain disease outbreaks. Learners also explore resources they can use to promote effective long-term community health practices.
- Evidence-Based Practice and Research in Nursing
- The course provides an overview of evidence-based practice in the nursing field. Students learn about the proper assessment and application of research findings, and they prepare to apply research to improve patient care. Students explore the role of emerging technology in practical nursing, including its effects on treatment options and the patient experience.
- Creativity and Innovation
- Students dive deep into the process of creative thinking and innovation with a view to moving an organization more effectively into collective innovation.
- Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
- The course helps students hone skills in interviewing and physical assessment and covers techniques necessary to determine the health status of patients. Students develop diagnostic reasoning skills and explore culturally competent assessment strategies, and they prepare to create appropriate and implementable treatment plans for patients of all ages.
- Informatics for Healthcare Professionals
- Students in this class learn how to use technology to manage information and knowledge. Coursework prepares learners to deliver high-quality patient services and to improve health outcomes. Students become familiar with a variety of computer applications, such as medication administration systems and regulatory software.
- Pharmacotherapy for Registered Nurses
- Students develop a broad understanding of essential pharmacological principles as they relate to evidence-based nursing practice. Topics include legal, ethical, and economic issues related to drug therapy. Learners also explore characteristic drug groups and drug interactions. The course strengthens and expands on students' knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics.
Accelerated Online Programs
The fastest nursing programs available are typically online RN-to-BSN programs. Both online and on-campus nursing programs can meet state licensure and/or certification requirements. Online learners generally complete the same courses and program requirements as on-campus students.
Distance learners in accelerated programs need determination and strong organizational skills. They must also be able to focus on and retain large amounts of information in a relatively short amount of time. Many schools deliver accelerated programs online, since distance learning offers more scheduling flexibility than in-person classes. Additionally, online students often save on costs associated with transportation and housing, and some schools allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates.
Students should begin their financial aid search by completing the FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Schools and organizations also use information from the FAFSA to determine each student's eligibility for institutional and private financial aid packages. Students should download the FAFSA form as soon as it becomes available (historically on October 1) so they have time to gather the required financial data.
Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of funding since they do not require repayment. If these funding options do not cover the entire cost of tuition and expenses, students may consider taking out loans. Federal student loans typically offer lower interest rates than private loans. Federal loan options include subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Direct subsidized loans do not require students to pay interest while they are enrolled in school or while the loan is in deferment. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest the moment the loan is disbursed.
Scholarships for Nursing
Most colleges and universities offer financial assistance, generally in the form of scholarships and grants. However, nursing students can also pursue financial awards from nonprofit organizations in the field. Below are five scholarship programs available to nursing students.
The course familiarizes students with common cognitive testing tools such as the Stanford-Binet Development Achievement Scales and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Learners study different theories of human intelligence and various methods of measuring cognitive ability. The course examines the validity and significance of traditional assessment and testing methods. Students learn how to score tests and interpret results. They also explore how cultural and socioeconomic factors can sometimes impact exam results and relevance.