How Does an Accelerated Nursing Program Work?

An accelerated nursing program works by mixing online coursework, in-person skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations. This hybrid curriculum allows you to leverage your previous college experience toward earning your BSN degree on an accelerated timescale and becoming a nurse more quickly.

Mercer ABSN student using a laptop

Chances are that if you are considering becoming a nurse and hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you are ready to pursue your nursing education and begin an exciting career as soon as possible. This is where accelerated nursing programs, like Mercer University’s Second Degree Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track in Atlanta, come in. ABSN programs are designed to build upon your previous college experience and often feature online coursework, making it possible to graduate sooner than with a traditional, four-year degree path.

For many learners, ABSN programs may be the best pathway toward becoming a registered nurse. But how does an accelerated nursing program work, and is it worth it for you? We will review how accelerated BSN programs work and discuss important considerations before making your decision.

What Are the Components of an Accelerated BSN Program?

Mercer’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing track is delivered in what is often referred to as a hybrid format, because of the blending of online and in-person learning methods. Nursing school curriculum includes coursework, labs, and clinical rotations, but the main difference with Mercer’s ABSN track is how these elements are delivered. Online-based coursework paired with accelerated lab and clinical practice allows you to take on more material on a faster timeline and invest a year in intensive study.

Read on to learn more about how each component of an ABSN curriculum works.

Online-Based Coursework

Regardless of whether you participate in an Accelerated BSN program or a traditional, on-campus four-year nursing degree, the coursework you complete covers all the same subjects. The main difference between the two is in the intensity of classes and the increased flexibility of online learning that makes a heavier course load more feasible. Mercer’s ABSN coursework is delivered online via our Canvas learning management system (LMS) rather than in a traditional lecture-based classroom format, with access to instructors who are dedicated to your success.

Nursing student studying with notebook and laptop

Online coursework also allows you to go back to review content, interactive exercises, and other course materials as often as you need to feel prepared for exams. Though the coursework is online, you will still have deadlines for assignments as well as travel to Mercer’s ABSN Learning Site located in Cobb County in Atlanta. At the Learning Site you will participate in tests, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and attend clinical rotations at top Atlanta healthcare facilities.

In-Person Skills and Simulation Labs

Nursing coursework is most effective when you can apply the knowledge you gain in the classroom to the real world. In-person labs bridge the gap between learning in the digital classroom and eventually caring for patients. Skills and simulation labs are administered under experienced instructors, helping you and fellow cohort members to master essential nursing skills and react to changing conditions that mirror real-world patient care scenarios.

Mercer’s ABSN track, for instance, familiarizes you with hospital-grade equipment and a hospital-like environment complete with high-fidelity medical manikins. After each lab, you can complete a debrief session with instructors and fellow cohort members, analyzing each decision made and identifying areas for improvement. With enough practice, you can apply the skills you learn here in a real clinical environment.

Clinical Rotations

With four-year BSN programs, it is rare to begin clinicals before your second year. With Mercer’s Accelerated BSN track, you begin your clinical rotations during the first semester, so you can start putting what you are learning into practice right from the start. It also means you will get to network with working professionals sooner.

Of course, none of this is to say you will jump in unprepared. We have carefully selected clinicals based on what you will be learning in the coursework and labs at the same time. You can also rest assured that you will not be alone. Throughout the course of your clinical experience, experienced clinical instructors will be on hand to oversee your every move and answer any questions you have.

Mercer nurse with patient in a hospital bed

How Long is an Accelerated BSN Program?

Accelerated nursing programs are different from traditional nursing degree paths, and leverage your previous college experience while allowing you to focus exclusively on a nursing-centric curriculum. Some programs require a minimum number of credits, while others — like Mercer’s ABSN track — require a bachelor’s degree. Mercer’s Atlanta-based ABSN track allows second-degree students to earn a nursing degree in as few as 12 months. Not only is that significantly less time than a traditional, four-year nursing program, it is also shorter than most ABSN programs, which often take 16 months or longer.

Become an RN in one year

See how Mercer makes a 12-month ABSN track viable for nursing students.

Additionally, most four-year BSN programs offer one start date per year, meaning once the program enrolls, if a student misses the start term they would have to wait a year before they can begin earning their degree. Accelerated nursing programs are different, offering not only a condensed format but also multiple start dates per year. Mercer’s ABSN track has three starts each year — in January, May, and August — allowing you to get started sooner.

Although multiple start dates mean you can enroll sooner, you will also need to take additional courses to be eligible for admission. Most ABSN programs have prerequisite requirements. In some cases, you may have already taken some (or all) of the required courses; it depends on the university and your educational background.

Is an Accelerated Nursing Program Worth It for Me?

Accelerated nursing programs are fast-paced — requiring hard work, discipline, and organization. An ABSN track like Mercer’s is a commitment for the 12 months you are enrolled, and it is challenging while balancing other priorities like a job or childcare. With all of this in mind, not everyone feels comfortable learning in an accelerated environment. However, if you meet the requirements and are up to the challenge, Mercer’s ABSN track could be the right path for you toward a rewarding career in nursing.

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When researching accelerated nursing programs, it is important to consider nursing schools with a reputation for academic excellence. Founded in 1833, Mercer University is one of America’s most distinctive universities and the Georgia Baptist College of Nursing is the longest established nursing program in Georgia. Mercer is ranked among the leading universities in the nation––including “Best Value Schools” and “Best Undergraduate Nursing (BSN) programs” by U.S. News & World Report (2022). For more than 100 years, we have been producing top nurses — a tradition that continues with our online-based Accelerated BSN track to help meet the growing demand for nurses throughout Georgia and nationwide.

Earn Your Degree in Nursing Sooner

With this knowledge of how an accelerated nursing program works, applying to Mercer University’s Atlanta-based ABSN track could be the perfect next step to meet your academic and professional goals. Offering three start dates per year and an intensive, 12-month curriculum, Mercer’s ABSN is your fast track to a rewarding career in nursing. To find out more about our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing track, call us at 844.347.2108, or reach out to an enrollment counselor today.

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