How to Become an RN Fast: Change Your Career and Your Life

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If you’re thinking about how to become an RN fast, you have three main options. You could become a licensed practical nurse in one year, but your career growth would be limited. An associate degree similarly determines career growth. Instead, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is ideal.

nursing students walking up stairs

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’ve decided that pivoting career or educational career paths and pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS in Nursing) degree is the right step for you. Congratulations! Nursing is an exciting field for those interested in meaningful work that makes an actual difference in the lives of others.

What’s the fastest way to become a nurse? It largely depends on the type of nurse you wish to become and the program you choose. Here, we’ll consider three main pathways for how to become an RN fast:

  1. Becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN)
  2. Becoming a registered nurse (RN) with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  3. Becoming an RN with an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program or advanced-standing BSN program, such as the ABSN program or Advanced Standing BS in Nursing pathway at Utica University

Why Becoming a Nurse Is Worth It

Before exploring the fastest way to become an RN, consider why you might want to. Becoming a nurse is worth it, as this career offers:

  • An impressive job growth rate
  • Lucrative earning potential
  • The opportunity to make a difference
  • The ability to choose from several nursing specialties and workplace settings

Indeed, you can do a lot with a nursing degree once you pass the licensure exam (NCLEX-RN). You might care for elders in a nursing home or serve as a public health advocate. You could work in K-12 schools or universities, camps or cruise ships, or even private homes as a home health nurse.

Utica ABSN student wearing stethoscope

Wondering what it takes to become a registered nurse? Read all about it here.

Is an LPN the Fastest Way to Become a Nurse?

The first pathway for a nursing career is to become an LPN. A licensed practical nurse is not the same as an RN. The advantage is that there is no need to earn a nursing degree and the licensure exam is far less rigorous. Instead, LPNs complete a state-approved training program, which usually takes a year. Then, they must pass the NCLEX-PN. Some LPNs also choose to obtain additional certifications, such as wound care or gerontology certifications.

Although it may take about one year to become an LPN, it’s important to remember that an LPN’s scope of responsibilities is quite limited and opportunities for career growth are similarly limited. Instead of developing treatment plans and administering medication, for example, LPNs assist patients with the activities of daily living (ADLs), check vital signs and monitor patients’ conditions.

In addition to having limited opportunities for career growth, LPNs have far less earning potential than RNs.

How to Become an RN Fast with an ADN

If you decide you’d rather have the earning potential and career opportunities associated with being an RN, then one possible pathway is to earn an associate degree in nursing. ADN programs typically take two years to complete. This nursing degree will qualify you to sit for the NCLEX-RN. If you become a licensed nurse with an ADN, you can carry out the full scope of responsibilities as other RNs, such as diagnosing patients, establishing care plans and delivering patient education.

two students studying

As an RN with an ADN, you could also specialize in a particular area, such as oncology or pediatrics. However, it’s essential to recognize the limitations of this career pathway. First, you couldn’t pursue graduate-level nursing education without earning a BS in Nursing. This limits opportunities for advancement. Second, healthcare employers prefer hiring RNs with a BS in Nursing rather than an ADN because hospitals with more baccalaureate-prepared nurses are associated with better patient outcomes.

So, should you earn a BS in Nursing instead and does this take longer than an ADN?

How Long Does It Take to Get a BS in Nursing?

Typically, a BS in Nursing degree would require a four-year commitment at a traditional, 100% on-campus nursing school. This would likely be your best option if you’re a high school graduate without college credits. However, if you have some prior college credits (even if they aren’t in nursing), you might not need another four years of higher education.

Instead, ABSN and advanced-standing BSN programs are viable alternatives that provide the same high-quality nursing education in an accelerated timeframe. With Utica University’s ABSN program or Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program, you can graduate in as few as 16 months. (The 16-month timeline doesn’t begin until after you’ve met all admission requirements, including completing degree requirement courses.)

At Utica University, you’ll take online coursework, onsite skills and simulation labs. You’ll have opportunities to practice delivering direct patient care in supervised clinical rotations at leading local healthcare facilities.

ABSN Programs and Advanced Standing BSN Programs: What to Expect from the Fastest Way to Become an RN

If you decide the best way to become an RN is via the ABSN program or Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program at Utica University, you’ll receive complete support from your dedicated admission representative. First, your admission rep will evaluate your transcripts to determine if you’re eligible.

Through advanced standing, those in the Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program located in Albany, New York, must have a minimum of 65 credits from a regionally accredited college or university, with at least 57 credits being from a four-year regionally accredited college or university. Additionally, students must meet other eligibility requirements.

nursing student with flashlight on mannequine

Students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution may be eligible for the ABSN program.

Challenges of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated nursing programs have their own unique set of challenges. However, Utica University offers many student support resources to facilitate your success. From our attentive admission representatives to our highly accessible nursing instructors, our ABSN program and Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program are geared toward fostering academic achievements. Plus, if you understand the challenges ahead of time, you can better prepare for a seamless experience.

Faster-Moving Courses

Courses are fast-paced in a 16-month program that teaches the same amount of material as a traditional nursing program curriculum. This might feel overwhelming initially, mainly because previous courses you’ve taken might not be as demanding, but support resources are available. Instructors and your fellow students are ready to support you at every turn, whether that means individual help from instructors to understand a concept or regular group study sessions with your cohort.

Time-Consuming Study

Multiple fast-moving courses, skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations will leave you little time outside studying. Here, it’s essential to evaluate your responsibilities and realistically evaluate whether you can take on an accelerated nursing program. By speaking with an admission representative, you can start a plan for balancing your academic and life responsibilities before diving into the program.

The Need to Financially Invest

To pursue this lucrative career through a high-quality education, you must be prepared to invest in your future. Luckily, plenty of financial aid and financing options are available and your increased earning potential for the rest of your career should more than outweigh the upfront cost of earning a valued BS in Nursing degree.

hands holding a jar full of change

Wondering how to pay for nursing school? Check out this guide.

Advantages of Accelerated Nursing Programs

Despite the challenges that naturally come from pursuing the fastest way to become an RN, accelerated nursing programs have plenty of advantages that make the effort worthwhile.

A Faster Degree Path

With a path to graduation that could take qualified students as few as 16 months, ABSN programs and Advanced Standing BS in Nursing programs offer a viable way to become an RN fast. By getting your degree more quickly, you can begin earning in your new career years before you otherwise would with a traditional nursing program.

The 16-month length of ABSN and Advanced Standing BS in Nursing programs is career-friendly, allowing students to leverage all the expert instruction and hands-on experience they’ve gotten in the program to find a new job as an RN fast. With a growing career field, many new nursing opportunities await BS in Nursing graduates.

utica nursing student holding syringe

Highly Supportive Faculty and Cohorts

As a student in an accelerated nursing program, you’ll work through material rapidly. To succeed, you’ll need plenty of support from everyone around you in Utica University’s ABSN program and Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program, which comes in the form of a positive culture among faculty, staff and fellow students in your cohort.

Thanks to smaller class sizes, instructors are attentive to student needs and are always ready to answer questions and help students succeed. Beyond positive student/instructor relationships, fellow cohort members go above and beyond to support one another while studying, practicing new techniques or simply de-stressing before the next deadline.

Intensive, Hands-On Training by Expert Instructors

Traditional BS in Nursing programs are similar to ABSN and Advanced Standing BS in Nursing programs in that both students will learn the same nursing skills and techniques. However, applying those skills and techniques during clinical rotations is especially intensive in both of these programs.

people studying in library

Learn how to study for nursing school with these eight tips.

Transferrable Skills Can Help Nursing Students

If you’ve already been in the workforce for a few years, you’ve probably honed multiple essential skills that will transfer well into a nursing career. These transferrable skills can help you as a nursing student and, later, as a licensed RN.


Between attending to multiple patients, completing paperwork, speaking with other care providers and the many other day-to-day responsibilities you’ll encounter as a nurse, multitasking is critical to a successful nursing career. Applying flexibility and adaptability to nursing will help you stand apart once you enter the field.


Caring for patients is a team endeavor, with multiple nurses and other care professionals all fulfilling valuable roles. Like in past careers, working well with people from different departments can help make your role as a nurse much easier—practice collaboration as a student to develop the right mindset when entering a professional nursing environment.

student nurses and patient

Communication Skills

No matter how well you can stay on top of your on-paper responsibilities, you’ll find nursing a challenging career if you’re not eager to communicate with and listen to patients. For those who connect with people easily, nursing can be a valuable opportunity to reach out and provide care to populations while forming rewarding bonds with patients.

Choose the Fastest Way to Become an RN at Utica University

Pursue your dreams of making a positive difference in your community and enjoy a meaningful, rewarding nursing career. Utica University’s ABSN program or Advanced Standing BS in Nursing program can allow you to graduate with your nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

Contact us today to speak with a friendly admission representative.

The Ultimate Nursing School Admissions Checklist

Ready for nursing school but stressed about applying? We recommend downloading our free admissions checklist to learn the important ins and outs of applying to accelerated nursing school.

The ultimate nursing school admissions checklist