As you try to determine the best path toward earning your bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, you may have many questions running through your head. One of which may include, “is an accelerated nursing program worth it?” One way to evaluate an accelerated program is to speak with someone who has experienced the process, firsthand. Take Stephanie Hollingworth, a recent Concordia University-Portland ABSN graduate, for example.
We first spoke with Stephanie about getting into nursing school nearly two years ago, during her first semester in the program. Since then, a lot has happened – for one; she is now a practicing registered nurse. During her 16 months in the ABSN program, she overcame obstacles that helped make her the registered nurse she is today. That wouldn’t have happened without Concordia’s Accelerated BSN program.
She could start sooner.
The beginning of Stephanie’s nursing school search didn’t go as she anticipated. She found herself sitting on waitlists and was even rejected due to a lack of capacity in nursing programs across the state. “I had no idea how competitive it really was,” she says. “I had the grades; I had the heart; I just needed someone to give me a chance.”
That’s when she found out about Concordia University’s Accelerated BSN program. “Concordia fit the mission that I wanted,” she says.
With three start dates per year – in January, May, and August – our ABSN program let Stephanie begin her nursing education sooner.
She found flexibility with online learning.
Stephanie wanted to make sure she received a quality education that would provide her with flexibility.
Concordia’s ABSN program includes an online learning portion of the curriculum, which allows students to study at the time of day most convenient for them. “What I liked best about online learning is that I was able to make my own schedule, while still meeting instructor deadlines,” she says. Thanks to the dynamic e-learning platform, called Canvas, Stephanie could complete nursing theory coursework anytime, anywhere. As a busy adult, this helped her manage her time best.
Stephanie’s advice for online learning:
“You’ll have a set of assignments that will be due throughout the week. Manage your time well to get those done. They will vary from class to class, week to week.”
She could gain hands-on practice in skills and simulation labs.
Along with the flexibility provided by the online curriculum, hands-on practice gives students in-person experience with thier cohort and faculty members. On-site skills labs are separated into two parts; skills and simulation. “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.”
The skills lab experience starts with an open discussion. “You talk about the material you’ve already covered, so you’re prepared on the purpose of the skills and how to execute them safely,” says Stephanie.
Once all questions and concerns are addressed by your instructor, you then get the chance to practice your learned skills on your own. “Some of the skills we practice in the skills lab included giving injections, monitoring blood sugar, listening to heart sounds, and more,” says Stephanie.
Simulation lab lets you apply these learned skills on high-tech medical manikins to simulate real-life situations. “The manikins are very lifelike,” says Stephanie. Practicing on manikins gives you the opportunity to make mistakes, learn from them, and try again, under the guidance of your instructor.
“At any time, the instructors can turn on the manikin’s pulse and add sounds to the lungs; they will ask you questions about the manikin you’re working on, like ‘how fast are they breathing?’”
For Stephanie, debriefing with instructors after running through simulated exercises was the most impactful part of her hands-on lab experience. Why? Because having a conversation about how she reacted as a nurse helped her learn ways to improve.
Stephanie’s advice for hands-on labs:
Ask questions and practice your skills over and over again. This will help you become more confident, so when you get out there, you know what you’re doing.
She gained confidence through clinical rotations.
At Concordia University – Portland, accelerated BSN students begin clinicals in their first semester. Stephanie explains that this is what attracted her to our program the most. “Being able to go to a school that has strong clinical partners is invaluable – that was a top priority for me, and Concordia has great relationships.”
In-hospital clinical rotations let Stephanie experience the world of nursing right away. “We started out initially in a small group with our clinical instructor who would guide us and ensure that we did everything correctly.” In the last few months of her clinical rotations, Stephanie began to find the courage to perform learned skills on her own. “At the end, you’re really hands on – you’re helping people get dressed, you’re cleaning wounds and actually doing the skills yourself,” she says.
“From my first clinical to my last, I had so much more confidence.”
Stephanie’s advice for clinical rotations:
Clinicals are where you’re going to learn the most, so act as a sponge and absorb everything you can; come ready because that’s where you’re really going to learn and build confidence.
With hard work comes successful outcomes.
Stephanie found success by facing every challenge head-on. This diligence and determination not only enabled her to successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) with her head held high, but it also propelled her toward employment shortly after graduation.
She felt qualified to take and pass the NCLEX.
Stephanie says she left the Accelerated BSN program feeling well prepared to take the NCLEX, thanks to the structure of the ABSN curriculum. “When I sat down to take the NCLEX, it felt like I was taking another practice test – but it was real! When it turned off at 75 questions, I was feeling pretty good that I had passed!” she exclaims.
“When I found out that I had actually passed and had my license, I happened to be at the beach so I ran down in the ocean and played in the water. Then, I called all my family and friends. It’s been so many years working towards this dream, and it just felt incredible.”
She landed a job right after graduation.
There are a few important strategies Stephanie used to differentiate herself from other applicants. First, she treated each day of nursing school as a job interview.
Since Concordia’s clinical rotations take place at some of the top healthcare facilities in the Portland, Oregon area, Stephanie was able to work alongside fellow doctors, nurses, and staff with years of experience. “I used my clinical experience as a networking tool, and before graduation, I started applying to residency programs.”
These mindful habits resulted in her favor. “I was very fortunate to have a job offered to me in a residency program with a large hospital system here in Oregon less than a month after graduating. That was incredible and made it feel real,” she says.
Your nursing future is worth it.
Students, like Stephanie, choose the Accelerated BSN program because they want access to a quality nursing education. Concordia’s Accelerated BSN program provides students the opportunity to earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree in as few as 16-months.
If you’re ready to start your future as a registered nurse, reach out to our team of enrollment specialists today.