You’ve decided you want to become a nurse. Now what? If you have some college experience, you may be able to fast-track your path to a career in nursing through an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program. Here are our seven steps to becoming an RN.
1. Find the Right Nursing Program for You.
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 — You can become an RN with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Master of Science in Nursing, or Associate’s Degree in Nursing. However, it’s important to recognize where the industry is headed, as a growing number of top hospitals require new RN hires to hold a BSN degree or higher.
- How long you hope to spend in school — Though not for everyone, accelerated BSN programs offer qualified candidates a quicker path to earning a BSN degree than traditional, four-year programs. Accelerated nursing programs condense a lot into a short timeframe, and past applicants have found holding a job while in pursuing their degree to be very difficult.
- Whether you are willing (or want) to relocate — Depending on where you live, relocating could be your best option for getting into nursing school.
Previous academic experience is another major factor you’ll need to consider — and one you can leverage to become a nurse sooner. If you have at least 60 credits from a regionally accredited university, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree in as few as 16 months through Concordia University–Portland’s Accelerated BSN program. Offering three start dates per year, Concordia’s CCNE-accredited ABSN program teaches you how to care for patients holistically — mind, body, and spirit — through a mix of online coursework, skills labs, and clinical rotations.
Don’t have enough college credits to get into an Accelerated BSN program?
You may be eligible for our Associate of Arts in Pre-Nursing program. Consisting entirely of online coursework, this program will prepare you to apply for an ABSN program in as few as eight to 12 months.
2. Talk to an Enrollment Specialist.
Once you’ve decided on a program that sounds right for you, it’s time to pick up the phone and talk to an enrollment specialist. During your initial call, he or she will go over the program admission 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 the program 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 enrollment specialist at Concordia University–Portland. “We want our students to be academically successful, to graduate from the program, and to enter the nursing field ready to achieve their full potential.”
TIP: Use this initial call to develop a rapport with your enrollment specialist — after all, you will be in close contact with him or her throughout the admissions process.
3. Submit Your Official Academic Transcripts.
Following your initial admissions phone call, you will send over your official academic transcripts. Your enrollment specialist will then review your records to ensure eligibility and determine which prerequisite courses (if any) you’ll need to take. How many prereqs you’ll need to take depends on your previous college experience.
Many nursing students have previous experience in science-related fields of study, and as a result, do not need to take all of the prerequisite courses. However, keep in mind that while general education credits do not expire, required math courses must have been taken within the past 10 years and required science courses must have been completed within seven years.
4. Fulfill the Program Requirements.
Following the transcript review, an enrollment specialist will work with you to create an individualized plan for meeting any outstanding program requirements. This could mean enrolling in prerequisite courses or retaking a required course that you completed outside of the allowed timeframe.
TIP: While you are not required to take the required general education courses before enrolling in prerequisite courses at another school, check with your enrollment specialist to ensure they meet Concordia’s requirements.
Those applicants who do not hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree are also required to take the Kaplan admission test. Additionally, all applicants must take a state-approved Certified Nursing Assistant course (though a CNA license is not required) prior to orientation for Concordia’s ABSN program.
What we’ve heard from students is that’s the best training they’ve had to prepare themselves for the accelerated program. Because when they come face to face with their patients around week four or five for their clinical training, they know what to do.
5. Enroll in a Nursing Program.
While every school is a little different, typically, once you have met the program requirements, you can go ahead and apply for and, if accepted, enroll in the program. At Concordia, this includes submitting a professional resume, authorizing a criminal background check, and attending an in-person interview.
“I thought the interviews would be a lot more intimidating than they were. Everyone was really welcoming,” says Brie, who is slated to graduate from Concordia’s ABSN program in December 2019. “I feel like the questions were fair and standard, and you could reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.”
6. Earn Your Nursing Degree.
Where you earn your nursing degree matters. By choosing Concordia’s ABSN program, 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 and simulation labs that provide you with hands-on practice for everything from basic nursing skills (such as inserting IVs and checking vital signs) to making critical decisions in life-or-death situations — all in a safe-yet-lifelike learning environment.
- Clinical rotations that allow you to experience the nursing profession firsthand in a variety of healthcare settings alongside highly experienced clinical instructors.
“I wanted to find the thing that made me super passionate,” says Brie. “I have found that with the nursing program.”
7. Register for and Take the NCLEX-RN.
The final — and for many nursing students, dreaded — step to becoming an RN is to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Fortunately, registering for the NCLEX is not as complicated as it might first seem. Upon graduating, you will submit an application to the Oregon State Board of Nursing for RN licensure by examination. 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.
And while it’s true that the NCLEX is difficult, you’ll graduate well-prepared to sit for it. In addition to studying on your own, we built NCLEX test prep into our ABSN program via review sessions and the inclusion of Kaplan test preparation software. In fact, the first graduating class of Concordia’s ABSN program recently achieved a 100% pass rate on the first try.
Make Your Nursing Dream a Reality.
If nursing is your calling, don’t wait to enter this rewarding, high-demand field. With the Accelerated BSN program at Concordia University–Portland, you may be able to earn your nursing degree in as few as 16 months. Give us a call at 1-866-892-1562 today to find out more, or fill out the form to have an enrollment specialist reach out to you.