Top 5 Fastest Paths to Becoming a Nurse
By Mariam Yazdi
Maybe you’ve always wanted to work in healthcare, or maybe you just need to get into a career that gives you a steady income with plenty of job security — and STAT. Becoming a nurse does not have to be a long drawn process. There are many ways to become a nurse, some in as little as 11 months. Read on to find out how.
1. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
If your goal is to start working as soon as possible, LPN is a great initial step. Most programs are 11 months, about 3 semesters, or 40 credit hours. This route may or may not include a clinical component within the curriculum, and many people report being able to work part-time throughout the program if necessary.
As an LPN, you can work at the bedside, in clinics, and in many other places where nurses are hired. It’s important to know that the scope of practice for an LPN is not the same as an RN. You will be restricted in some practices — such as administering IV medication; your facility should provide guidance on these restrictions. Salaries for LPNs are also about half of that of a registered nurse.
If the LPN route sounds like it would fit your lifestyle best but you know you will want to grow in your career, there are many LPN to RN programs that can help you get to the next level of nursing when you are ready and able to take that step.
2. Associate Degree in Nursing
Associate degree nursing programs are typically 2 years in length. You will graduate with an RN license and you will have a full scope of practice of a registered nurse, in comparison to an LPN. Your pay will begin on the scale of a registered nurse. However, in many places, the salary ceiling is lower than for a bachelor’s prepared nurse.
The restrictions to an ADN are typically career growth — positions like management, leadership, or clinical nurse specialists are reserved for bachelor’s prepared nurses. Just like the LVN to RN bridge, there are many ADN to BSN programs that can help you advance your career when the time is right for you.
3. Accelerated Bachelors of Science in Nursing
This option is available for people who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field and would like to accomplish a BSN in a quick time. To enter an accelerated bachelor’s program, one must have a degree in any other field, accomplish the mandated prerequisite courses, and have a strong GPA upon applying. These programs range from 12 months to 2 years. Click here to read more about the accelerated BSN.
4. Nurse Apprenticeships
Nurse Apprenticeships are programs offered by hospitals and academic programs to allow those who are in the process of obtaining their nursing degree, to begin working while in school. Although this doesn’t necessarily shorten the length of your nursing coursework, this does allow you to earn money while in the program, and provides an avenue of resources for you to land a job as soon as — or even before — you graduate. Learning on the job and making connections is a great way to jumpstart your career. Look for positions titled: “nurse apprenticeship,” “nurse technician,” or “nurse internship.” Click here to learn more about this program.
5. Tips on speeding through your nursing program
If you are interested in being time-efficient with school, there are many practical ways to get through the program quickly. Many schools offer the option of not taking time off between semesters (during the summer for example) and if you feel that you can afford to sacrifice a summer vacation, push through those months and graduate a little earlier.
Working during school may be a necessity for you, but if it can be cut out of your schedule, you may find that you can focus and get through more classes or take more credits with the added time. Finally, finding a mentor or a tutor that can help you get through confusing times in class or in clinicals can keep you on track. Remember that schools have ample resources that if used properly, can speed you over to your destination!