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What can you expect from an accelerated nursing program?

Summary: You might be wondering what you can expect from an accelerated nursing program. The CSP ABSN program is hybrid — comprised of hands-on labs and clinical experience in addition to online coursework. Learn several tips that can help you succeed in accelerated nursing school.

Is an accelerated BSN program right for you?

Are you bored, burnt out or otherwise unsatisfied in your current profession? If you have already earned at least 60 hours of college credit and you’re looking for a meaningful career change, an accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program might be right for you. This post will inform you as to what you can expect from an accelerated nursing program.

Accelerated nursing programs are designed to give you credit for previously completed college coursework, allowing you to graduate with a BSN degree in less time than it would take in a traditional program. ABSN programs also typically offer multiple start dates per year, so you don’t have to wait to apply.

You might wonder how an ABSN program can fit two years of traditional nursing study into less than two years. One answer is that there are no long breaks between semesters. During lengthy breaks, students tend to forget what they have learned. College courses generally do not begin with a review of past material, so eliminating these breaks is helpful in keeping students engaged and on track.

It is also important to note that in an ABSN program, the coursework moves quickly. You should expect a rigorous curriculum. In fact, it is highly recommended that you not work while enrolled in an accelerated nursing program. For the period of time in which you are enrolled, you will need to focus on your studies.

This post will detail these and other benefits of an ABSN program, as well as tips for succeeding as a nursing student and information specific to the CSP ABSN program in Portland and St. Paul.

How Hard is Nursing School?

It can be demanding. There is no way around it; the coursework is difficult and fast-paced. You can plan on spending long hours studying to retain complex information. And as you prepare for the National Council Licensure Exam, or NCLEX-RN®, the licensure exam all nurses must pass before they can work in the profession, you will realize there is not always just one correct answer to a test question. As a nursing student, you will need to develop your critical thinking skills so you can determine the best answer to a question (more on the NCLEX below).

Stethoscope on top of a student's notebook

Is an Accelerated Nursing Program Right for You?

Here are five questions you should ask yourself to determine whether an accelerated nursing program is right for you:

  1. Are you able to study regularly, rather than cramming for tests at the last minute? Putting off homework and test preparation until the last minute will not translate into success in an accelerated program. You will need to dedicate time to studying on a regular basis.
  2. Can you memorize a great deal of complicated course material including medical terminology? A good memory is invaluable to the accelerated nursing student.
  3. Do you have time to attend class, complete homework, study for exams and attend labs and clinicals without regular breaks? Accelerated programs move swiftly. It is important to have a strong support system to help with childcare or other commitments.
  4. Are you adept at problem-solving? If you can stay focused under pressure and pick a direction amid confusion, you likely have the critical thinking skills necessary to succeed in an accelerated nursing program, and, ultimately, to become a nurse. Critical thinking requires the ability to weigh the pros and cons of various choices to select the best course of action.
  5. Have you worked hard to achieve things despite any obstacles in your path? This type of drive and ambition will serve you well in accelerated nursing school.

Why Choose an ABSN Program?

The obvious benefit to enrolling in an accelerated nursing program is that you will finish your studies in a relatively short timeframe. This will allow you to sit for the NCLEX-RN® and enter the job market sooner.

In an accelerated program, you will learn all the same material you would in a traditional BSN program; you will simply learn it more quickly. Plus, you will still gain all the required hours of clinical experience, caring for real patients, as you would in a traditional program.

What Can You Expect from the Accelerated Nursing Program at CSP?

With locations in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Portland, Oregon, Concordia University, St. Paul’s accelerated BSN program allows students with 60 college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree to earn a BSN in 16 months. We offer three start dates per year, per location — in January, May and September — which means you won’t spend time on a lengthy waitlist. Prerequisites are required.

Dedicated Support

Once you decide to reach out to CSP for more information, we will connect you with a dedicated admissions counselor. Your counselor will answer any questions you have, guide you through the application process and check in with you periodically to ensure your success.

Our accelerated BSN program at Concordia University St. Paul comprises three major elements:

Online Coursework

Your coursework will be delivered using an intuitive e-Learning platform. You will study fundamentals of nursing theory, public health policies, pharmacology principles and more. We have developed our coursework to appeal to a variety of learning preferences. The material will include interactive exercises, audio/visual components, and online quizzes, for example.

Concordia University Portland - ABSN student using laptop

You might wonder about interacting with faculty and fellow students while learning online. With ABSN at Concordia, classmates and instructors are easy to reach through our online learning management system’s (LMS) built-in chat function and discussion boards. Your instructors will also make themselves available via in-person and virtual office hours, telephone and email.

One of the greatest benefits of online coursework is that you can complete it whenever and wherever it’s convenient for you. Of course, you will still have deadlines and expectations. But you can choose the time of day and location in which you prefer to work.

It is also important to note that the material you’re learning in your online nursing coursework will correspond with what you’re currently doing in labs and clinicals, allowing you to master the content and graduate ready to become a practicing nurse.

Hands-on Labs

At ABSN at Concordia, you will enjoy hands-on learning through our state-of-the-art nursing simulation and skills labs at one of our two ABSN learning sites in Portland, or at our dedicated site in St. Paul. These labs mimic real-world healthcare facilities and provide a safe environment in which to hone your skills and knowledge.

In skills lab, you’ll learn how to conduct head-to-toe nursing assessments, insert IVs and catheters, care for wounds and more. You will practice on medical manikins so you can learn from your mistakes without putting patients at risk.

In simulation (sim) lab, you will sharpen your decision-making skills in various mock healthcare scenarios featuring medical manikins that not only blink and breathe, but also exhibit various symptoms. Instructors guide the manikins behind the scenes while you respond in real time.

Stephanie - Concordia St. Paul ABSN alumna

Skills and simulation labs help prepare you for clinical experiences in that you have the opportunity to make mistakes and practice the hands-on skills ahead of time to build up your confidence.

Stephanie, ABSN alumna

Clinical Rotations

Students complete clinical rotations at various healthcare facilities in and around Portland or St. Paul. During this hands-on portion of our program, students experience a variety of practice areas, including mental health, intensive care, oncology, pediatrics and more. First, students shadow other nurses. Eventually, they perform patient care under supervision.

You might be wondering what measures CSP has taken to ensure the safety of its faculty and students, in light of the recent pandemic. For the fall 2020 semester, students and faculty resumed skills labs and clinical simulations, but at 50% of typical frequency. Students wear face shields and surgical masks as personal protective equipment (PPE) when they are working together. In addition, the school screens and temperature-checks every person who enters CSP sites. They have added extra hand sanitizers, and they complete daily cleaning of all instructional areas. For the time being, they limit skills labs to no more than 25 people at a time, including students and faculty.

Taking the NCLEX

Once you graduate from an accelerated nursing program, as we mentioned above, you must complete one more step before you can become a registered nurse: passing the NCLEX-RN®. Administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the NCLEX is designed to ensure nursing school graduates have the basic skills and knowledge to provide safe, effective entry-level nursing care.

On top of your online coursework, skills labs and clinicals, our ABSN program will prepare you to sit for the NCLEX with confidence. Throughout your time at CSP, you will practice answering NCLEX-style questions. Because the exam is meant to gauge your critical thinking ability in the context of complex healthcare situations, there are generally multiple correct answers to each question; you need to be able to pick the “most right” answer.

Why are NCLEX Pass Rates Important?

No matter where you study nursing, you must pass the NCLEX in order to become a registered nurse. For this reason, it’s important to research prospective programs’ NCLEX pass rate prior to submitting your application.

In 2019, 95.3 percent of all Concordia University BSN students in Oregon passed the NCLEX on their first try. BSN students at CSP in St. Paul saw a 100 percent pass rate that year. To give you context, the first-time nationwide pass rate in 2019 was 91.57 percent.

8 Nursing School Tips for Success: How to Survive Nursing School

Now that you know what to expect from an accelerated nursing program, here are some tips to help you succeed as a nursing student.

1. Manage Your Time Wisely

As an accelerated nursing student, you are going to be incredibly busy. You will need to keep track of assignments, labs, tests, clinicals and more. Be sure to keep a calendar that documents all your deliverables and due dates. This will help ensure you don’t miss anything. You should even schedule study and homework time each week. And always save completed homework, quizzes and notes so you can refer to them as needed.

2. Prepare

Review your notes regularly to stay current with class material. Complete all your homework and assigned readings. If you fall behind, it will likely be difficult to catch up, so devote time every day to keeping yourself on track.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

If you are wondering about something in the reading, homework, labs or clinicals, speak up! Professors and other faculty appreciate students who are engaged and curious. And chances are, if you have a question, someone else in your class is wondering about the same thing. You will do well in your studies if you are not afraid to clarify things that seem confusing. Seeking that answer could make a difference to one of your patients someday.

4. Care for and Encourage Yourself

Always make sure to get enough rest. This may be tricky when you consider all the requirements of nursing school, but you will be no good to yourself or anyone else without it. In fact, being exhausted can diminish your mental acuity, making it difficult to recall information, for example. Incorporating a bit of downtime into your schedule will help you focus better. Be sure to eat a healthy diet. And reward yourself for small victories. If you ace that test, splurge on a congratulatory Starbucks drink, or just take a moment to really acknowledge that your effort paid off.

5. Remember Your “Why”

Everyone has a “why”. Some people enroll in an accelerated BSN program because they want to better care for their children. Others have always felt called to help others. Whatever the reason is that you decided to pursue nursing, don’t forget it. Leave yourself a visual reminder on your mirror at home or attach a Post-it to your laptop so you can always recall your deeper reason for expending so much effort.

6. Don’t Compare Yourself with Others

We all have our own strengths. While one unit of coursework may stump you, you might pass another with flying colors. Each student in your cohort will have their moment to shine, including you. Whether you master a difficult concept in the text or accomplish a trying task in lab — your talent will reveal itself.

7. Maintain a Well-Balanced Schedule

You can’t possibly work 24 hours per day. Although you will devote a good deal of your time to your studies as an ABSN student, you must make time for other aspects of your life. Allow yourself time each day to check in with family. Spend time with pets or do a bit of housework. You will do well to strike balance in your life, even during this busy time.

8. Quiz Yourself with Practice Questions.

It is always helpful to assess your knowledge ahead of scheduled tests. Write a list of questions to review the material you’ve been covering, leaving room for responses. Then close the laptop and try to answer each one. You’ll be surprised at what you can remember, and you’ll find out which topics need a bit more study.

Concordia Portland student, Stephanie, studying online

Nursing: More Than a Job

Accelerated nursing school is not easy, but it’s worth it. A career in nursing provides more than a steady income and job security — it provides sense of purpose and an opportunity to care for others.

Our tight-knit campus community promotes supportive student-faculty relationships and spiritual growth. At CSP, you will learn to care for the whole patient — in body, mind and spirit. This holistic approach to education will prepare you to champion health, provide quality care and exhibit leadership — not just within healthcare organizations, but throughout the community.

Whether you’re ready to apply or just have questions about our ABSN program, call us today or fill out the form to have one of our admissions counselors contact you directly.

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