One of the advantages of a career in nursing is the opportunity to get started quickly and then keep advancing your education and your career at your own pace. You might be surprised how quickly you can earn different nursing degrees – in some cases, through accelerated and even online degree programs.
Fastest LPN Programs
Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) are nurses who provide basic care under the supervision of registered nurses (RNs). To become and LPN or LVN, you need a certificate or diploma and a state license.
Generally, it takes about one to one and a half years of study at a community college, technical school or hospital program to earn your practical nursing diploma, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, there are ways to fast-track even the shortest nursing education. Some accelerated programs can be completed in as little 11, 9 or even six months – but you may need prior experience as a certified nursing assistant (CNA), according to The Houston Chronicle.
If you do choose an accelerated LPN program, be careful. East Coast Polytechnic Institute University, which offers a 15 month regular LPN program as well as accelerated options, warns that these programs are intense due to their short timeframe and that trying to absorb course materials in too short of a window of time could make it harder to pass the NCLEX-PN credentialing exam.
Some high schools offer a practical nursing program that allows students to complete a full year of studying to become an LPN by the time they graduate.
Fastest ADN Route
An associate’s degree or professional nursing diploma is already the quickest way to become a registered nurse, but you may be able to get your degree even quicker. Typically, these programs take a minimum of two to three years of study, according to the BLS.
If you’re thinking of going the ADN route, find out your state’s requirements. Some states, like New York, now require ADN holders to attain a BSN in 10 years to maintain licensure.
Fastest Second ABSN Schools
Some aspiring nurses already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject but are looking for a career change. If that sounds like you, then you should know that you don’t have to start your nursing education from scratch. A type of program known as a second or accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) provides a nursing education for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree.
Unlike a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which takes four years of full-time study, an ABSN degree program lets you build on the courses you have already taken and get credit for the work you have already done. Some schools that offer accelerated ABSN programs include:
- Regis University – one year
- University of Washington – five quarters, summer-to-summer
- Cleveland State University – three to four semesters (1+ year)
Switching careers may be easiest if you had a previous major that prepared you well for a nursing degree, such as biology, chemistry, sociology, psychology or physical therapy.
Fastest RN-BSN Schools
Registered nurses who started out with their ADN degree or diploma can speed up the process of earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Often, online BSN programs are some of the quickest programs available. Among the fastest online bachelor’s degrees in nursing are:
For more than 50 years, the American Nurses Association advocated raising the entry-level education required for RNs to a baccalaureate degree.
What to Know About Accelerated Degrees in Nursing
Before you sign up for a fast nursing degree, know what you’re getting into. Make sure that any degree program you decide at attend has the appropriate regional and institutional accreditation, so that you aren’t wasting your time and money earning a degree that has no value. Also, be sure to understand exactly what the program requirements are and how long it will take to complete under different scenarios. Be wary of any programs that offer unrealistically fast completion times. Find out if you will need any sort of advanced standing requirements, like CNA work experience, to earn your degree in the advertised length of time.
Once you’re certain that your program is fully accredited and legitimate, be prepared for an intense workload. You still have to complete the same coursework in an accelerated program as you would in a traditional program, but you have to do it all in less time, which can be stressful. If you sign up for an online program, make sure you understand what is required of you regarding clinical components of your education.
A final way to earn your nursing degree faster is to choose schools that award the maximum amount of transfer credits, like Capella University, Gwynedd Mercy University and California Baptist University.