It is a common question, and if you’ve thought about a nursing degree you’ve probably asked yourself, “How hard is accelerated nursing school?” There are many factors and variables that go into a student’s nursing education and there are many opinions on the subject. The truth is, an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can be rigorous, but the benefits of a nursing career far outweigh any trials you may encounter.
What is an ABSN?
In determining how hard an accelerated nursing program is, we should first look at what it is. Many ABSN programs are generally considered second-degree programs because they allow you to leverage your existing non-nursing bachelor degree to earn a degree in nursing. However, there are some ABSN programs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree but rather completion of certain college courses. While these types of programs have their differences, they all usually have one thing in common: they are designed to be completed much quicker than traditional nursing programs. That’s where the term “accelerated” came from. Now that you understand what an ABSN program is, let’s look at what you can expect.
What to Expect in an Accelerated Program
Every accelerated BSN program has a slightly different curriculum or way of teaching the required material. However, upon graduation, all nursing students need to take and pass the same test – the NCLEX – in order to work as a registered nurse. That’s why a school’s curriculum matters. Utica College’s ABSN program understands the importance of the NCLEX, which is why their program is designed to not only teach you essential nursing skills, but prepare you to successfully take the exam. Their curriculum uses the following components to thoroughly prepare you:
Blended Learning Model
There are a host of accelerated programs offered both onsite and online, but Utica College offers the best of both worlds, or what is known as a blended learning approach. Consisting of both online-and on-site coursework, the blended learning approach gives you more flexibility to study on your own terms. While you can choose where and when you complete your online courses, you are still required to meet deadlines, stay on track with quizzes and exams, and participate in hands-on lab and clinical learning
Top-Notch, Hands-on Learning
In addition to online learning, you are able to gain hands-on experience through on-site skills labs. The nursing labs give you an opportunity to practice advanced skills with no risk to patients. You can expect to spend three to four days a week at lab sites performing simulations.
Clinical rotations allow you to apply your theoretical and clinical knowledge to the real world. In Utica College’s ABSN program, you will take 62 credit hours of online and onsite work, along with 225 hours of labs, and 588 hours of clinical rotations.
Overcoming the Accelerated Learning Curve
To help explain how hard nursing school is, Chris Payrot, Site Director for Utica College’s ABSN programs, identifies three struggles most accelerated nursing students face.
- Prioritizing and managing time in regards to academics, and personal and family time.
- Developing strong critical thinking and analytical skills for nursing experiences.
- Adjusting study habits from previous educational settings that no longer work for them.
The ABSN staff at Utica College helps students like you overcome these struggles in various ways, such as:
- New student orientations are designed to break down the program expectations for you.
- Success coaches explain academic guidelines, and give personal and academic support.
- Tutoring services are available, as well as study resources and practice tests.
- Plus, faculty support via office hours gives you a chance to meet one-on-one with instructors for guidance.
Payrot tells students to keep in mind that all instructors will work with them every step of the way to ensure success.
“It is okay if you fail a test or quiz,” Payrot says. “The hope is that you will learn from the mistakes and move on to the next challenge. Go after what you want in life and never think about how tough it will be, but focus on the goal at the end.”
A Rigorous Program to Prepare You for the NCLEX
The NCLEX exam, lasting up to six hours, includes up to 265 questions covering topics you’ll learn as a nursing student, such as physiological integrity, safe and effective care environment, psychosocial integrity, and health promotion and maintenance.
Though the NCLEX is notoriously tough, Utica College nursing students are prepared. Starting in week four of the first semester, you will take timed, proctored NCLEX-based tests, and then repeatedly throughout the entire 16 months of their program. This gives you maximum exposure to the types of questions, format, and timing of the actual test. These practice exams causes you to think like a nurse early in the program. In 2015, Utica College had a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 94%, which is above the national average of 87%.
How Getting Accepted into Utica College Means More
The acceptance process for the ABSN program at Utica College can be more efficient and timely than the processes for other nursing schools. You will have more opportunity to meet program requirements and less wait time in between your application and program start date.
In case you’re wondering how that’s possible, here’s why. The ABSN program offers three start dates per year, which means more students can begin the ABSN program annually. Since the ABSN program is for adults who want to quickly transition their career into the field of nursing, applicants to the program in Syracuse must have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution and a 2.8 minimum cumulative grade point average overall, as well as in your natural science prerequisite courses. Applicants to the program in St. Petersburg do not have to satisfy the requirement of having a previous bachelor’s degree.
The Prerequisite Priority (PREP) Program at Utica College allows you to satisfy prerequisite requirements by taking classes through Utica College. Students in the program are given conditional early acceptance into Utica College’s accelerated nursing program given they meet the GPA requirements and earn a grade of “C” or better in each prerequisite course. The PREP classes are taken entirely online, even those with lab requirements. Benefits of the program include seamless transfer of credits, financial aid eligibility, and one retake of any two ABSN prerequisite courses.
The ABSN Advantage; Why It’s Worth It
Utica College’s ABSN program provides you with an education that goes beyond the fundamental nursing skills that are taught in other programs. Yes, it might be hard, but by the time you finish the program, you will have advanced critical thinking and leadership skills, increased understanding of the issues that influence patient outcomes, and skills that make it possible to practice nursing in both inpatient and outpatient settings.
So, how hard is accelerated nursing? Students often say the ABSN program at Utica College was the hardest, yet most rewarding thing they’ve ever done in their life.
Contact an Admission Representative to find out how to can get started on your accelerated BSN degree at Utica College.