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What is an Accelerated Nursing Program?

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  • Written By: Darrell Laurant
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 October 2017
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The shortage of nurses in the United States is accelerating, and so are the academic strategies designed to deal with the problem. An accelerated nursing program is a fast-lane approach to nurse training aimed at producing more competent nurses at a much quicker rate. Some form of accelerated nursing program is now available in more than 40 states.

The accelerated nursing program is for those who have had experience in some sort of medical field or have earned a degree in a subject that might be related to nursing. This enables these applicants to bypass some of the basic-level nursing courses and achieve an undergraduate nursing degree in 11 to 18 months and a Master's in three years. Many baby boomers in search of a mid-life career change have taken advantage of these fast-track options.

With the urgent need for new nurses comes a paradox, however. Since nurses have gradually been assuming more and more of the roles that once belonged to doctors and other health care professionals, it is critical for health care facilities not only to find more nurses, but to at least retain -- and ideally raise -- the standards of the profession. For that reason, an accelerated nursing program will typically require at least a 3.0 in an applicant's previous college work.

Once in the program, the obvious advantage to a student participant -- the opportunity to get into the profession more quickly -- will be balanced by the clustered and rigorous class schedule necessary to allow that to happen. Thus, the dropout rate in accelerated nursing programs tops that of "regular" programs, as high as 75 percent in many cases. Nevertheless, the concept has been embraced not only by the health care field, but by government grant-writers. On 7 December 2008, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing at Florida Atlantic University received a $100,000 US Dollars state grant for its accelerated nursing program, a typical award.

Florida, with its reputation as a retirement mecca, is particularly concerned with the nursing shortage. As an aging population continues to retire and move south, there is a real fear that the current Florida nurses will be swamped by geriatric concerns alone over the next decade. One cultural change that may help is the increased acceptance of men as nurses. The more that field begins to seem like an option for males, the quicker the shortfall might be erased.

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