Becoming a registered nurse (RN) could be a very lengthy process, and you may feel that you want to dive into your career as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are fast track RN courses that could catapult you into this career much sooner than previously anticipated.
It is best to complete a licensed practical nursing (LPN) course before starting your RN program, as this will be a requirement for almost all RN programs; you will need some hands-on experience as a nurse prior to becoming an RN.
Upon completion of your fast track RN course, you will be eligible to sit the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), and will then obtain your RN license after successfully passing the exam.
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Taking Part In Fast Track RN Courses
Before embarking on this fast track course, you need to absolutely certain that this is what you want to do and that you are prepared for it. Consider the advantages and disadvantages below before rushing in to any decisions.
Having The Time
If time is not on your side, then fast track program is ideal as it allows you become an RN within a shorter amount of time. This course may take you only 12 to 18 months, whereas the traditional route will see you having to complete other degrees before reaching the stage of RN. For example, in an average setting, you would have to first gain some nursing preparation in the form of a diploma (which would be hospital based), a two-year Associate’s degree in some form ([AD], Associate of Science [AS], or an Associate of Arts [AA]), or baccalaureate programs (BSN) which then lead to master’s and doctoral degrees. Within a fast track program, you could go from an AD directly to a master’s degree, thereby bypassing a baccalaureate.
When going from LPN to RN in the traditional manner, you will find that many topics are covered more than once during your educational journey. However, in this shorter program, you will not have to retake classes which cover those topics which you have already completed during your LPN program. Once again, this saves you time.
This shortened program also allows you to get started on your career as an RN much quicker than usual. This means that you can get into your grove as an RN much quicker, and therefore start to earn a decent wage within a shorter amount of time. The sooner you start to gain this experience, the sooner you can prove yourself within your institution of choice, and start to work towards a higher position with more responsibilities and higher pay.
Sine you are now reducing what would typically be a two-year degree to a year, or a year and half, you must expect that the coursework will be intense. Trying to learn the same amount of information, or more, within a shorter time fame will, of course, be tricky. So you need to be certain that this is something you can handle. It may be a shorter course, but it should by no means be seen as a part-time course, as you will need to dedicate a lot of time to your studies.
This does also mean, though, that you may not have the time to continue your job as an LPN at your hospital or health care facility, as you may find it challenging to fully dedicate your time and energy to your studies towards becoming an RN while working long hours. So it is wise to first make sure that you can afford not to work during this time.
Such accelerated nursing programs, on average, will have lower tuition fees, since the course is a shorter one. However, take note that this is based on the average, as costs and fees will vary greatly depending on a variety of factors which could be dictated by the program itself and the state you live in.
Although the costs may be lower, remember that you may not be able to work during this time due to the academic workload, so you may find that some financial assistance is necessary. This may be easily obtainable if you are currently working in hospital as an LPN, since, due to the current nursing shortage, some employers may even pay for you to get back to school and complete an accelerated degree in order to become an RN so that you can accept greater responsibilities.
In the traditional route, a student who is earning two separate degrees at separate universities or colleges will be introduced to different curricula and teaching methods and styles, thereby increasing their educational diversity. This, of course, is limited when studying via a fast track program where you may be combining different programs, or skipping some out altogether, and your learning environment will then remain the same throughout.
On the other side of the coin, in a fast track program, it is likely that you will be able to form more substantial relationships with your professors, which could lead to more individualized teachings. Building such a strong network base could also benefit you in the future when looking for a job as an RN.
Schools, Colleges, And Universities That Offer These Programs
There are over 600 nursing programs spread throughout the entire United States, so you will have no difficulty finding one, you just need to do some through research to determine which one would work best for you and your current (or future) circumstances.
Lansing Community College
Susan Bowling, MSN, RN
Director of Career Ladder Nursing Program
Office Location: HHS 108
Phone: (517) 483-1190
Fax: (517) 483-1508
The Community Health and Nursing Department offers a Career Nursing Ladder Program; this associate degree is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
This course is offered in four different variations; the last two are the fast track programs that you should be looking at:
- Traditional Track: This is the traditional route which will take two years to complete. The program is comprised of four semesters, and classes will take place four to five days per week.
- Non-traditional Three-year Track
- Non-traditional Advanced Standing to RN Track: This is for practical nurses (PNs), respiratory therapists, paramedics, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who hold unrestricted current Michigan licensure and have been working in their field at least 20 hours per week in the year prior to application.
- Non-traditional Second Degree Accelerate Track: This is for individuals who possess a Bachelor’s or higher degree in any major; it starts in min-September, and you will be finished by December in the following year.
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College
Fast-Track Program Coordinator
1201 NEO Loop
Grove, Oklahoma 74345
This 12-month program will give you the opportunity to obtain fast track training as an RN by acquiring advanced standing credit. So you will be given credit competency achieved through previous training or occupational experience, and therefore not have to repeat academics or previous knowledge that you have already learnt. This will also allow you to keep working as an LPN while studying, thereby furthering your training while working towards your Associate of Applied Science degree in nursing, remember to make sure that you will be able to effectively juggle both your work and studies without underachieving in either.
If you are not yet an LPN, but a licensed paramedic who wants to expand to registered nursing, your prior learning experiences will gain you entrance to this program.
In order to apply for this you must:
- formally apply to the Department of Nursing.
- include current licensure as an LPN in Oklahoma (if you are an LPN).
- submit a copy of your American College Testing (ACT) scores – admission to this program is very competitive, so your ACT scores and grade point average will greatly influence your chances.
- must have completed all general education and support courses before enrollment.
Lawrence Memorial/Regis College
Lawrence Memorial /Regis College
170 Governors Ave.
Medford, MA 02155-1643
The professional associate of science nursing degree program is approved by the Board of Registration in Nursing of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and accredited by the NLNAC.
In order to qualify for this fast track RN program you must:
- have a current LPN license.
- submit three letters of reference, including one from an employer, and one from an academic professor.
- submit an essay
- have obtained a minimum of a C average in an algebra course (either in high school or college)
- have completed the following 4 non-program specific courses with a minimum final grade of C or 2.0:
- Anatomy & Physiology I/Lab
- Anatomy & Physiology II/Lab
- Introduction to Human Development
This course will take one and a half to two and half years to complete, and the curriculum will consist of concurrent theory and clinical experience in the following clinical sites:
- major teaching hospitals and medical centers in Boston
- suburban hospitals and community sites
Within these sites, you will experience diverse client care within the following settings:
- mental health
- community nursing settings
Your curriculum will consist of:
- eight non-nursing courses – in the biological, social sciences, and humanities sectors (some of these can then be skipped if you have already completed them, thereby minimizing the length of this study program).
- three nursing courses – including the study of pharmacology, drug therapy, nutrition, and pathophysiology.
Your curriculum will also be a flexible one, should you want to continue working part-time while completing this program. Your two options are:
- The Day Division: Classes and clinical experiences are offered during the day Monday through Friday.
- The Evening/Weekend Division: Classes are scheduled on weeknight evenings, and clinical experiences are provided every second weekend.
Florida Gateway College
Florida Gateway College (formerly Lake City Community College)
149 S.E. College Place
Lake City, FL 32025
This Science Degree in Nursing (ASDN) Program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission, and can be completed in just one year.
In order to apply for this you must:
- Complete the following pre-requisite classes with a grade of C (or 2.80) or higher:
- Freshman English 1
- Public Speaking
- Anatomy & Physiology 1
- Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
- Anatomy & Physiology 2
- Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab
- College Algebra or Math for Liberal Arts
- Microbiology Lab
- One of the following: Ethics (this is the preferred choice), Introduction to Humanities,
- Prehistory to the Renaissance, Renaissance to Modern Times, Mythology in the Arts, Intercultural Explorations, Art and Music, or Philosophy and Religion.
- Take the Nurse Entrance Test (R-NET) and achieve a score of 75 or higher.
- Hold a current Florida LPN license with one full year of documented full-time LPN work experience.
- If you have completed a PN program in a state other than Florida, take the NLN Nursing Acceleration Challenge Exam (NACE) and obtain the national average or higher.
- Successfully complete a 30-hour IV Therapy class within 18 months of admission to the program.
- Demonstrate that you have a sound knowledge of computers before graduating via a college credit computer course, a non-credit college computer course, or a college examination.
Your course curriculum is as follows:
- Semester One – Transition: Adult Health
- Semester Two – Mental Health
- Semester Three – Nursing Process 2
- Semester Four – Transition: Maternal/Infant/Child/Adolescent
The total estimated cost for this program comes to about $10,100. This is made up of around $7,000 for the actual semester classes, lab fees, and prerequisites, while a further average of $3,100 can be spent on books and supplies, exams, the IV therapy course (as well as uniforms), R-NET fee, and background and drug screens.
Consider all the information above before making your final decision, as such fast track RN courses are not for everyone. Although you can benefit greatly from such a program, you do not want to enroll only to find out that you are not able to successfully complete the course in this shortened manner, thereby losing a great deal of money and time.