How to Become an RN Fast with an ABSN Program: 5 Steps

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The five steps for how to become an RN fast include choosing a program and talking with an admissions counselor, completing requirements and prerequisites and applying. Then, you’ll need to earn your degree and take the NCLEX. After that, you’ll be ready to begin your new nursing career.

CSP nursing student standing outside smiling

You’ve decided you want to become a nurse. Now what? You may be wondering how to become an RN fast. If you have some college experience, you may be able to fast-track your path to a career in nursing through Concordia University St. Paul’s 16-month Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN).

Earning your degree from an Accelerated BSN program is among the fastest ways to become a registered nurse, and it’s simple to get started if you meet the eligibility requirements. Follow these five steps to become an RN fast.

1. Find a Program and Talk with Admissions

Becoming a registered nurse (RN) begins with finding the nursing school and program that fits your needs. That means weighing factors that matter to you, such as:

  • What kind of degree you intend to pursue: While it’s possible to become a nurse with an associate degree, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is likely your best option. Because of the more in-depth clinical education in bachelor’s programs, a BSN will set you up for better job opportunities and more growth options.
  • Your timeline: Though not for everyone, Accelerated BSN programs offer qualified candidates a quicker path to earning a BSN degree than traditional, four-year programs. We have found it’s ideal if nursing students avoid working during nursing school so they can commit their time to learning.
  • Whether you can relocate: Depending on where you live, relocating could be your best option for getting into nursing school.
  • Required background: If you have at least 54 credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited university, you can earn your BSN degree in as few as 16 months through Concordia University's Accelerated BSN program.
  • Number of start dates: Look for a program that offers multiple start dates per year so you can begin sooner. CSP’s ABSN program offers three start dates per year at both our Minneapolis and Portland sites.

Concordia’s CCNE-accredited ABSN teaches you how to care for patients holistically — mind, body and spirit — through a mix of online coursework, skills labs and clinical rotations.

woman sitting at desk thinking

Is nursing the right career for you? Ask yourself these seven questions to help you decide.

Making the Admissions Call

Once you’ve decided on a program that sounds right for you, it’s time to pick up the phone and talk to an admissions counselor. During your initial call, they will go over the admissions requirements and ask you about:

  • Your reason(s) for wanting to be a nurse
  • Why you think the program is a good fit
  • Your previous education (including grades, major, etc.)
  • Your background (including anything that might be of concern)

The goal of this first call is simple: To ensure this is a good fit for both you and the school.

“We don’t want to guide students through the admissions process if this is not a good fit for them,” says Jenny Chodola, an admissions counselor at Concordia University. “We want our students to be academically successful, to graduate from the degree and to enter the nursing field ready to achieve their full potential.”

Your admissions counselor will look through your background and determine if your prior experience is suitable for the ABSN program. Then they’ll guide you to finish any remaining prerequisites, make a timeline for admission and complete your application.

2. Fulfill the Admission Requirements

Following a transcript review, your admissions counselor will work with you to create an individualized plan for meeting any outstanding requirements. The requirements for the ABSN program at CSP include:

  • Completion of 54 non-nursing college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree with a cumulative college GPA of 3.00.
  • Completion of the required prerequisite courses with at least a grade of C or higher, and have a 3.0 GPA of combined science prerequisites (microbiology, human anatomy and physiology I and II and chemistry for health sciences).
  • Complete the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam with a minimum score of 65% within a year prior to your application to the program (only two attempts allowed per year).
CSP nursing student sitting at desk using laptop

This could mean enrolling in prerequisite courses or retaking a required course that you completed outside of the allowed timeframe.

Many nursing students have previous experience in science-related fields of study, and as a result, they do not need to take all of the prerequisite courses. However, keep in mind that while general education credits do not expire, required math and science courses must have been taken within the past seven years.

Any applicants who do not hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree are also required to complete several general education requirements. You’ll work with your admissions counselor to create an individualized plan for completion.

Wondering how to get ready for nursing school? Use these strategies to prepare for the ABSN program.

Student walking outside holding books

3. Apply to Nursing School

While every school is a little different, once you have met the requirements, you can typically go ahead and apply for the program. At Concordia, the application process includes submitting an online application, a professional resume, official transcripts and a criminal background check.

The admissions team at Concordia St. Paul uses a rolling admissions process, which is great for those seeking how to become a nurse fast. Rolling admissions means we’ll review your application as soon as we receive it and respond with a decision within a few weeks. After acceptance into the program, you’ll be able to enroll and begin this exciting new educational path!

4. Earn Your Nursing Degree

Where you earn your nursing degree matters. By choosing Concordia St. Paul’s ABSN, you’re making a smart decision — one that will thoroughly prepare you for the challenges you’ll face working in today’s increasingly complex healthcare environment. Over the course of 16 months, you’ll participate in:

  • Online coursework that includes rich media experiences, interactive presentations and case studies, written assignments based on textbook readings, online discussions, virtual office hours, a built-in course calendar and more.
  • On-campus skills labs that provide you with in-person practice for basic to complex nursing skills, such as checking vital signs, examining patients and inserting IVs. Labs offer the opportunity to learn in a safe and supportive environment.
  • Clinical learning experiences under the guidance of clinical instructors. Clinicals are an important component to nursing education because they help you gain the knowledge and clinical reasoning you’ll need to make a smooth transition to professional nursing.
Concordia St. Paul ABSN students working in sim lab

Wondering how to succeed in nursing school? Here are seven tips from an ABSN student.

5. Take the NCLEX-RN® and Get Licensed

The final steps to becoming an RN are to apply for licensure and take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Fortunately, registering for the NCLEX-RN® is not as complicated as it might first seem.

Upon graduating, you will apply for RN licensure by examination with the board of nursing in the state where you plan to work. After doing so, you’ll receive emailed instructions on how to complete your background check and register to take the NCLEX. Once this process is complete, you’ll receive authorization to sit for the NCLEX.

three CSP nursing students standing in lab

And while it’s true that the NCLEX is difficult, you’ll graduate well-prepared. Remember that passing the NCLEX will require dedicated studying.  CSP prepares you for the NCLEX-RN from the very first semester. You will have tutorials, practice questions, additional resources, and proctored assessments that are similar to the content on the licensure exam. Each semester you will prepare to be successful.

Once you pass the NCLEX and meet any other state requirements, you’ll receive your registered nurse license. With your BSN and RN license in hand, you’ll be ready to start your first nursing job.

Make Your Nursing Dream a Reality

Now you know how to become an RN fast, so if nursing is your calling, don’t wait to enter this rewarding, high-demand field. With the Accelerated BSN at Concordia University in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, you may be able to earn your nursing degree in 16 months.

See what two of our CSP students think of the ABSN program.

Concordia St. Paul ABSN student working with nursing lab equipment

Reach out to our ASBN admissions counselors today by filling out our form. We’ll walk with you step-by-step through the journey to a professional nursing career.