How to Become an RN Fast: Accelerated Path to a Career in Nursing

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Wondering how to become an RN fast? There are both traditional and non-traditional routes. A traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN program typically takes four years to complete. However, an accelerated BSN program can allow you to graduate in as few as 16 months.

nurse sitting using tablet

If your current job doesn’t offer personal fulfillment or the opportunity for career advancement, you might want to think about becoming a registered nurse (RN) instead. Given the significant demand for nursing professionals, it’s a great time to become an RN. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employers to hire about 177,400 new RNs from 2022 through 2032 — a faster-than-average job growth rate.

But does it take a long time to become an RN? There are multiple paths toward a nursing career — both traditional and accelerated. For example, with an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, earning a nursing degree in as few as 16 months is possible. Let’s look at how to become an RN fast with an accelerated BSN program and how to become an RN through other program options.

Traditional Nursing Programs

Before looking at the fastest way to become a nurse through an accelerated BSN program, let’s review the traditional nursing programs.

LVN/LPN Program

One option is a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) program. LVNs and LPNs are the same type of nurse; the acronym varies by state. An aspiring LPN must first complete a high school diploma or GED and then complete an LPN training program, which typically lasts one year. They must then pass an exam to obtain an LPN license.

Although this may be the fastest way to become a nurse, it’s essential to note that an LPN is not the same as a registered nurse. An LPN has limited responsibilities and authority and will not have access to the same job opportunities as an RN.

ADN Program

The second pathway is via an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. An associate degree typically takes two years to complete. It enables graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to obtain licensure as an RN. In other words, it requires twice as much nursing training as an LPN program.

Although an ADN graduate can become an RN, they will also typically find limited opportunities for career advancement and even entry-level jobs. Healthcare employers generally hire nurses with four-year degrees because these professionals are better positioned to contribute to more favorable patient outcomes. In addition, an ADN graduate can only pursue advancement via graduate-level nursing education if they first go back to school to complete a bachelor’s degree. For practicing RNs looking to continue their education, Madonna offers a fully online RN to BSN program.

BSN Program

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing is considered the gold standard in education for entry-level nursing jobs. Traditionally a four-year degree, BSNs provide an ideal breadth and depth of nursing education. The BSN program prepares graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam with classroom instruction, labs and clinical rotations.

Accelerated RN Programs

Madonna students studying

There are many routes toward nursing, and only some nurses will follow one of the traditional paths. Becoming an RN fast is often more feasible via a non-traditional path. Fast-track nursing programs can leverage your past non-nursing education to help you get your foot in the door much more quickly. Let’s take a closer look at accelerated RN programs.

What Is an Accelerated BSN Program?

An ABSN program can be ideal if you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a minimum number of non-nursing college credits. If you choose the ABSN program at Madonna University, you’ll need at least 60 non-nursing college credits, along with meeting other admissions requirements. At Madonna, it’s possible to graduate in as few as 16 months over four semesters.

Although it’s a fast-track RN program, this nursing education confers the same BSN degree as a four-year program. It also provides the same quality of education and prepares graduates for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam just as effectively as a four-year program.

Is an ABSN the Fastest Way to Become a Nurse?

nurse and school patch logo

Every student’s journey will be different, but an ABSN program is one of the fastest ways to become a nurse. Note that the estimated 16-month timeline begins at your start date and ends at graduation. You may need to fulfill additional requirements before your start date. For example, many nursing students must complete some prerequisite courses before starting their nursing education.

What Are Fast-Track Nursing Programs Like?

A fast-track RN program can be challenging yet incredibly rewarding. It’s essential to treat it like a full-time job; in fact, you will likely find yourself putting in more than 40 hours per week with your busy schedule of classes, labs, clinical rotations and studying. In addition to your classwork, you’ll need to begin preparing for the licensure exam as soon as possible, as the NCLEX is quite rigorous.

Although an ABSN program can be challenging, you’ll have extensive student support services. At Madonna, for example, you’ll have one-on-one access to an Academic Success Coach right from enrollment until you sit for the NCLEX.

How to Become an RN Fast with an ABSN From Madonna

If you’ve got your heart set on making a positive difference in the lives of others by becoming a nurse, then you’ll want to look at how to become an RN fast with the ABSN program at Madonna.

1. Start the Admissions Process

Your nursing journey begins as soon as you complete the form on our website. That lets our admissions team know you’re ready to discuss your academic qualifications and nursing career goals so we can determine if you’re a good fit for our program.

We will connect you with an admissions representative, who will serve as your main point of contact throughout the admissions process. During the initial call, you’ll have the chance to have your questions answered and learn more information about the program’s admissions requirements.

Next, you’ll work with your representative to make an academic plan to guide you through admissions. Once your admissions representative determines your eligibility for our ABSN program, they will help you meet your goals for a target start date. Your representative will also ensure you’ve either met the prerequisite course requirements or have a plan to do so.

2. Complete Your Prerequisite Courses

Madonna nursing student reading textbook

Your admissions representative will help you register for all necessary prerequisite courses. They’ll continue to check in intermittently to help you stay focused and on track to pass the classes with the minimum grade requirement of C or higher.

Prerequisite courses provide a solid understanding of communication, mathematics, and scientific theories needed to put your best foot forward in your ABSN coursework. In other words, prerequisites serve as the foundation on which you are building your nursing education.

Did you know you can take prerequisite courses directly through Madonna’s intuitive e-learning platform? This can help streamline the process and give you a leg up because you’ll be familiar with the platform when you advance to your online ABSN courses.

3. Complete the 16-Month ABSN Curriculum

Successful students in the Madonna ABSN program are dedicated and committed, with great time management skills. To get the most out of the ABSN program and become a confident nurse, you must schedule time to study and stick to your plan.

Because our program runs on an accelerated timeline, you will be learning a lot of information in a short amount of time. It’s critical that you make the program your priority. You will primarily spend your time studying for online courses, attending skills and simulation labs, clinical placements and NCLEX prep.

You may want to consider specific career options throughout your nursing education. Explore these 14 alternative careers for nurses.

two nurses in blue scrubs sitting and talking

Online Courses

You’ll complete your foundational nursing coursework using our intuitive online platform. Although your nursing classes will be online, you’ll still have full access to your instructors via email and online chat. Our online curriculum is interactive and includes engaging modules and video content. It also allows you to connect with your cohort through discussion boards.

Skills Labs

While enrolled in the accelerated BSN program, you’ll attend skills labs at our ABSN site near Detroit that will challenge you to put what you’ve learned in class into action. These labs emulate the hospital setting, featuring the high-tech medical equipment and supplies you’d expect to find in a healthcare setting.

Simulation Labs

Simulation labs test your skills in realistic patient care scenarios. They push you to hone your critical thinking, collaboration and problem-solving skills. The lab environment provides a supportive environment where you can try your skills and learn from your mistakes without fear of harming a human patient.

madonna nurses with mannequin

Interested in learning more about simulation labs and why they’re important? Read on to see what labs are like.

Clinical Rotations

Next, you’ll be able to level up your skills and practice them in a practical environment. During clinicals, you’ll work with our healthcare partners in a variety of areas:

  • Adult health
  • Community health
  • Mental health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics

Under the guidance of an instructor, through these clinical rotations, you’ll get a feel for working in a real hospital or facility with actual patients. You’ll learn which specialties interest you while working alongside healthcare professionals. This portion of the program is the closest you’ll come to professional nursing; for the next step, you’ll need to pass the NCLEX and get your license before being eligible for employment.

Madonna ABSN student using stethoscope on patient

4. Take and Pass the NCLEX

Every student who graduates from nursing school must sit for and pass the NCLEX to earn an RN license, so that will be your next step on your journey.

Our ABSN program prepares you to sit confidently for the exam. The NCLEX is a comprehensive test that evaluates prospective nurses’ ability to develop appropriate clinical responses to various patient situations.

5. Get Started

During our 16-month ABSN program, you will complete 53 credit hours over four full-time semesters.

Our program offers start dates in January, May, and August, giving you ample time to meet requirements and start on your path toward a rewarding career in helping people.

Does Madonna University’s ABSN program sound like a fit for you? Start on your future today! Contact a Madonna ABSN admissions representative today to learn more.