Why are accelerated nursing programs worth it? This blog post explains the benefits of earning a B.S. in Nursing, how to evaluate quality ABSN programs and why the Utica ABSN program may be your best bet if you want to transition into the nursing workforce as soon as possible.
You may already have a bachelor’s degree or are in the process of completing one in a non-nursing field, but you’ve recently decided you want to become a nurse. You’ve been researching the educational options for making that career shift possible and came across accelerated nursing programs. The fact that you can apply your existing education to a new degree path is appealing to you, but you wonder if the commitments in both effort and cost are worth it.
We’re here to tell you that depending on your life and career goals, yes, accelerated nursing programs are worth it. To help you decide if an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is the right path for you, we’ve gathered all the information you’ll need to make an informed decision, including answers to these questions:
- What is a B.S. in Nursing program?
- What are the benefits of earning a B.S. in Nursing?
- How do you evaluate an ABSN program?
- Why choose Utica ABSN to earn your B.S. in Nursing?
What is a B.S. in Nursing program?
If you want to become a registered nurse, you’ll find no shortage of educational options to make that a possibility for you. A two-year Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN), which offers the minimum amount of education needed to sit for the required licensure exam that grants you access to the profession, is the shortest path available. But for myriad reasons we’ll outline below, it’s highly encouraged for those who are interested in advancing in the nursing field to pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Nursing.
Options for earning a B.S. in Nursing
To earn a B.S. in Nursing, you can follow any one of these paths:
- If you’ve already earned an ADN and are working as an RN, you’re qualified to enroll in RN-to-B.S. in Nursing programs.
- If you have a high school diploma and no prior nursing experience, you can enroll in a traditional four-year undergraduate B.S. in Nursing program, which typically provides two years of general and prerequisite courses and an additional two years of nursing courses and clinical rotations.
- Depending on the institution’s admissions requirements, if you already have prior non-nursing credits or a bachelor’s degree in any field, you may qualify to enroll in an accelerated B.S. in Nursing program such as the 16-month ABSN program Utica College offers.
B.S. in Nursing curriculum
Accredited B.S. in Nursing programs include coursework that prepares graduates to assume the role and responsibilities involved with becoming a registered nurse. What differentiates them from ADN programs is their focus on evidence-based practice. What does this mean exactly? While specific course titles vary from program to program, in general B.S. in Nursing programs offer basic prerequisite coursework as well as coursework specific to nursing practice that goes beyond the fundamental nursing curriculum taught in associate’s degree programs.
As an example, in addition to more than 588 clinical hours, the Utica ABSN program curriculum includes:
- Socialization to Professional Nursing
- Foundations for Nursing Care
- Health Assessment
- Care of Populations and Communities
- Leadership and Informatics in Professional Nursing
- Care of the Obstetric Population
- Care of the Aging Population
- Medical/Surgical Nursing Care I + II
- Management in Professional Nursing
- Senior Nursing Care Seminar Lab I + II
- Care of Populations with Psychiatric Concerns
- Care of the Pediatric Population
- Trends in Professional Nursing
- End-of-Life and Palliative Care Practice
- Advanced Medical/Surgical Nursing
What are the benefits of earning a B.S. in Nursing?
It’s true an associate’s degree in nursing covers the fundamentals of nursing practice and qualifies you for many entry-level nursing positions, much like a B.S. in Nursing program does. But what sets a baccalaureate nursing degree apart from an ADN are the long-term career benefits you can expect once you’ve earned it.
Top among those professional advantages are on-the-job autonomy, marketability in a continually in-demand field and higher earning potential over time.
If you’re looking for a career that offers a certain level of professional self-sufficiency, nursing may be the right profession for you. Nurses with a B.S. in Nursing have even more independence in the workplace than their associate’s- and diploma-educated peers, simply for the fact that the baccalaureate nursing curriculum dives deeper into the complex issues that affect patients and healthcare delivery systems today. As a result, many healthcare employers are empowering nurses with this credential to make more critical care decisions.
Evidence also suggests the safest hospitals have more registered nurses who hold bachelor’s degrees than associate’s- or diploma-educated nurses. In a 2013 study, for example, researchers found hospitals with a higher percentage of baccalaureate-educated nurses had lower rates of congestive heart failure mortality, decubitus ulcers, failure to rescue and postoperative deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and shorter length of stay.
Given today’s nursing shortage, a baccalaureate nursing education provides a particularly sound return on investment. As of May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates our country’s registered nurse employment rate will grow by 12 percent between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the average for all other occupations, for myriad reasons including:
- Increased emphasis on preventive care.
- Higher rate of chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity.
- Growing baby-boomer population.
- Advancements in medical treatments and technology.
Those who hold a B.S. in Nursing stand out from those in the competition for these open positions. That’s because a growing body of research recommends increasing the number of Americans who hold a B.S. in Nursing for the patient safety reasons mentioned earlier.
As a result, many healthcare employers eager to achieve Magnet status — a recognition the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center designates to healthcare settings to recognize nursing skill and quality — are either hiring bachelor’s degree-educated nurses first, or requiring candidates to hold this credential.
Earning a B.S. in Nursing is a wise investment if you have any plans for advancing your career in the field. For starters, as of May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates RNs with a B.S. in Nursing can earn up to a mean annual wage of about $71,730 (national mean annual wage), with some sources reporting the starting salary difference between nurses with and without a B.S. in Nursing to be nearly $30,000.
Long-term employment prospects for a baccalaureate-educated nurse are also far better than they are for a nurse without a B.S. in Nursing. That’s because such a degree sets the stage for pursuing a graduate degree or advanced nursing specialty should you ever choose to do so in the future.
Additionally, while the upfront costs involved with pursuing any type of advanced nursing degree are high, you can expect a high return on your investment. Consider the national average starting salaries* of these advanced nursing positions you only become qualified for with a master’s of science in nursing (MSN):
- Nurse anesthetist: $167,950
- Nurse midwife: $103,770
- Nurse practitioner: $107,030
- Nurse administrator/medical and health services manager: $99,730
*Source: 2018 U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
It may soon be a requirement
While many hospitals and healthcare facilities hire more baccalaureate-educated nurses based on their own personal preference, some states — including New York — have passed legislation that requires it for many of the reasons outlined above. That means you may soon have to earn a B.S. in Nursing if you want to earn your nursing license in those states.
One example is New York’s “BSN in 10” law, which requires nurses in that state to earn their B.S. in Nursing within 10 years of receiving their initial RN license to be able to continue practicing in the profession. RNs who held a New York license and students enrolled in nursing programs within New York on or before Dec. 19, 2017, were grandfathered in regardless of degree level.
As of May 2018, laws similar to BSN in 10 have the support of the American Nurses Association, all the state action coalitions, AARP and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, so it’s plausible similar legislation could be considered in other states soon as well.
How do you evaluate an ABSN program?
You now know why earning a B.S. in Nursing is a wise investment, but do a quick online search and you’ll find many educational options for pursuing your baccalaureate nursing degree, including many accelerated B.S. in Nursing programs like the one Utica College offers. How do you know which ones are worth the cost of admission? Below are some factors to consider when weighing your nursing school options.
Accreditation and approvals
A school’s accreditation status is often a marker of its quality and reputability. Why else does nursing school accreditation and approval matter? First, if the state’s board of nursing doesn’t approve the nursing program you enroll in, your state may not grant you permission to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®). Without taking (and passing) the NCLEX, you can’t receive your nursing license.
Second, graduating from an accredited nursing program ensures you a clear path for attending other accredited schools if you ever choose to pursue an advanced nursing degree. Some schools that offer master’s-level programs won’t allow you to transfer credits from an unaccredited program.
Not to mention, many healthcare employers only consider applicants who are alumni of Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)-, Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (CNEA)- or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)- accredited programs because they are educated under nationally established standards.
Utica College’s ABSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the New York State Education Department. It also meets the licensing requirements of the Commission for Independent Education, Florida Department of Education.
NCLEX pass rates
Look into how the institution you’re considering prepares students for the NCLEX. While a program’s NCLEX pass rates aren’t a direct indicator of how many of its graduates are working in the field, they are an important measure of its quality. In 2019, the national average first-time pass rate for students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing was 91 percent.
It’s also important to keep in mind that when evaluating a nursing school’s first-time pass rates, how you fare on this national exam ultimately depends on your own motivation to pass it. If you find yourself struggling with studying or understanding any challenging concepts, be proactive and seek out help from your instructors, fellow cohort members or success coach (we’ll get into how an ABSN program’s support resources are another thing you should evaluate when weighing your nursing school options in a minute).
Nonprofit vs. for-profit
Knowing the difference between nonprofit and for-profit institutions of higher learning is also valuable information to consider when researching the ABSN program best for you.
A nonprofit college or university’s main stakeholder is you, the student. Its main priority is to help you succeed in completing your degree. Arguably, a for-profit school’s main stakeholders are corporate owners or shareholders. For-profit schools are often called “proprietary” schools.
Nonprofit universities receive funds from government sources, tuition and fees, and donations. Any money a nonprofit institution raises goes right back into the school to make it better. For-profit schools often receive dollars from a parent corporation interested in earning a return on its investment.
One of your main motivators for enrolling in an accelerated nursing program is to pass the NCLEX so you can start your new career. An ABSN program with strong ties to local hospitals can make searching for a nursing job after graduation that much easier.
You can think of your clinical rotations as a foot in the door, but remember that the effort you put into your clinical rotations is what you can expect to get out of them. While most reputable ABSN programs can’t guarantee clinical (or job) placement at any given healthcare facility, the more you prove yourself capable during this valuable portion of your ABSN experience, the more likely nursing managers will consider you for any future positions.
Student support resources
True of any type of ABSN program, but especially for those with an online learning component, it’s essential to have access to instructors and other faculty members as you make your way through a nursing program.
Keeping up with the constant studying and clinical shifts can get to be a grind, so finding a school that offers access to supportive faculty members, clinical instructors and personalized success coaches can make all the difference. They can serve as a sounding board as you’re navigating a tough nursing topic and can help you brainstorm solutions to any issues that may come your way during nursing school. Any ABSN program that offers these types of resources is definitely one to consider — it shows it is as dedicated to your success as you are!
Why Choose Utica ABSN to earn your B.S. in Nursing?
If you’re looking to gain career longevity and advancement opportunities from pursuing a nursing degree, a B.S. in Nursing is the way to go. If you’re looking to reap the rewards of all these benefits on an accelerated timeline, then the Utica ABSN program is one of the best investments you can make for your nursing future. For so many reasons, including Utica College’s long history of excellence, our ABSN program’s three-part hybrid approach to learning and our supportive faculty and staff, you’ll see the Utica ABSN program will pay dividends toward your future career as a nurse.
Tradition of excellence
Utica College is an accredited, nonprofit college with a tradition of preparing nursing students to enter the profession since 1946 at our main campus in Utica, New York. Since then, we have established ourselves as a leader in nursing education dedicated to developing innovative solutions to community needs. One of the best examples of that is our ABSN program, which we first launched in Syracuse, New York, in 2013 and later expanded into two locations in Florida — St. Petersburg in 2014 and Miramar in 2017.
Utica College’s stellar reputation stood out to Jessica Torrent, who graduated from our ABSN program in 2019, and is what she says will help her land a job in the nursing field.
“I believe Utica’s name will help me get my job because it’s an accredited program from New York, brought down to Florida,” she says.
The nursing shortage is hitting hard across the country, and it’s expected we’re going to need even more nurses in the coming years. Programs like Utica ABSN are so important because they have the capacity and ability to prepare more career-ready nurses sooner than traditional, four-year B.S. in Nursing programs. In fact, our program builds on students’ previous learning experiences, offering a way for those with undergraduate degrees or at least 65 non-nursing credits to transition into nursing in as few as 16 months.
“The main thing that stood out for me about Utica ABSN was it was a 16-month program,” Jessica says. “I believe this is enough time to get the education I need but also not hold me back on my career.”
3 start dates per year
If you want to jumpstart your next step toward becoming a nurse like Katherine Wojciechowski, the Utica ABSN program is a great place to consider earning your B.S. in Nursing.
As soon as you decide you want to become a nurse, odds are high you can start working toward that goal with our program quickly. That’s because Utica ABSN offers three start dates each year — in January, May and August.
“I was able to start right away in May rather than waiting for a spring semester or fall start,” says Katherine, who graduated from Utica ABSN in August 2019. “Many programs only have that fall start.”
The first Utica ABSN satellite location opened in Syracuse, New York, as a response to the nursing shortage in the Empire State. To do our part to help combat the projected nationwide nursing shortage, we’ve made our accelerated nursing curriculum more accessible to more qualified students by expanding our ABSN program twice in Florida — in St. Petersburg and Miramar — where a nursing employment gap is expected to widen over the next decade.
Blended learning model
Our rigorous blended learning model meets both New York and Florida state licensure and regional accreditation requirements and is designed to ready you for today’s ever-evolving healthcare landscape, making it more than worth it for your nursing future.
Accessible online learning
The online learning component of our ABSN program features interactive media and online discussion portals and is designed to help you understand how nursing theory concepts relate to patient care. Plus, as long as you meet your assignment deadlines, you can engage with course material at your own pace, day or night.
“I like to go back and re-listen to lectures, taking my time to go through the material. With online learning, I could go online and replay the part I was confused about. The self-paced aspect also appealed to me,” says Chelsea Egwim, ABSN Class of 2020.
Hands-on skills and simulation labs
Skills and simulation labs that take place at our ABSN program sites are your chance to practice nursing skills in a risk-free, hands-on environment in the company of nursing instructors and classmates. You’ll then apply these learned skills on high-tech medical manikins in simulated high-risk patient care scenarios. These experiences are vital for building your confidence and skillset before you interact with actual patients in real-world clinical settings.
“Labs are great practice that prepare me to see what can be seen in the hospital,” says Sandra Aponte, ABSN Class of December 2019. “For example, in one lab we focused on trauma. A patient had a GI abdominal bleed and needed a pre-op. So in the lab we ran through the motions of getting a pre-op checklist, of making sure labs are in order and how to talk to the doctor on the phone.”
Diverse clinical experiences
Whether enrolled in our Syracuse program site or either of our site locations in Florida, through clinical rotations you can expect to have access to the kinds of diverse clinical settings, healthcare systems and patient populations that will prepare you for a fulfilling nursing career inside or outside the hospital.
On top of that, they also offer you the opportunity to develop your patient interaction skills and apply the nursing theory concepts learned in other parts of the program in a real-world setting. Sandra says for that reason, clinicals were her favorite part of the program.
“It helps us put all of our learning into practice,” she says. “Not that we are practicing on patients, but every time I step into a patient’s room I become more comfortable. That’s necessary to build the confidence to feel like you’re competent. Because it’s hard as a new nurse. You’re going to feel like I don’t know anything but you do know. You’ve been putting in the work.”
Once you become a Utica ABSN graduate, you must also pass the NCLEX to qualify to practice in the field. This exam ensures you possess the foundational nursing knowledge and skillset to care for patients as a registered nurse. While the exam is notoriously challenging, know that once you graduate from our program, you’ll have received a quality education that will allow you to sit for the NCLEX with confidence.
Your preparation for excelling on this rigorous exam begins your first day in the program. Our hybrid curriculum is designed to help you start thinking like a nurse. In addition to the hands-on preparation you’ll receive in labs and clinicals, Utica ABSN offers many NCLEX preparation resources, including Kaplan test prep.
“The way that the tests are written and formatted is similar to the NCLEX. That benefits everyone in the program because you aren’t shocked once you take the actual exam. In the NCLEX prep program you take last semester, all the Utica College students were far better prepared than any of the other students there,” says Stacy Law, ABSN Class of 2018.
Supportive faculty and staff
Accelerated nursing school requires major dedication and commitment, but you’ll have access to plenty of support resources and experienced staff to help you succeed.
Utica ABSN students have access to an academic success coach, who can help with strategizing the best way for you to meet your academic and professional goals while maintaining a healthy life balance.
Our highly experienced instructors are also always eager to answer student questions via our online platform or if you prefer a face-to-face discussion, regular office hours for faculty located at one of our ABSN learning sites.
Jill Kirchner, ABSN Class of 2017, had this to say about her interactions with instructors: “They’re always available through email. I could call them and meet with them in office hours. We are provided with a lot of support and answers to our questions.”
Job opportunities after graduation
While paying for enrollment in the Utica College ABSN program is a major financial commitment, it’s also an investment that will pay dividends for years to come in the form of more advanced job opportunities.
Based on anecdotal evidence from some of our alumni, odds are high you’ll find a well-paying job fairly soon after graduation. Take Lester Anim, ABSN Class of 2017, for example. He completed his transitional clinical rotation on the medical intensive care unit of a hospital in Syracuse, which led directly to a job offer upon his completion of the Utica ABSN program and passing the NCLEX.
“They said I did a great job. They loved me,” he says. “They said, ‘if you’re looking, please apply.’ I applied and literally got a call the day of my NCLEX to come in for an interview. In my interview they asked when I would want to start … I got that job and I started, and I really like it.”
A B.S. in Nursing is Worth It
As you can see, if your ultimate goal is to transition into the in-demand nursing workforce as soon as you can, earning a B.S. in Nursing from an accelerated nursing program like Utica ABSN is worth it. Once you complete our 16-month ABSN program, you’ll have all the nursing skills and knowledge needed to succeed in your nursing career in less time than it would take in a traditional nursing program.
“Utica’s ABSN program is preparing you for what you need to get out on the real world, which is a nursing job,” Jessica says. “This program has all the right material, essentials and skills for students to complete the program and be efficient nurses — you just have to make the most of it.”
Are you ready to commit to earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as few as 16 months? Contact us today to speak to an admissions representative about how enrolling in the Utica ABSN program is worth it for your future as a registered nurse.