Short for Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN), ABSNs put new students or registered nurses on the fast track to obtaining their Bachelor’s degree in nursing. It can be earned in as little as 16 months, consisting of a blended curriculum that involves coursework, nursing simulation labs, and clinical rotations for real-world experience.
Keep reading to learn more about ABSN programs, including required coursework, sample curriculums, and a primer on BSN salaries and job outlook.
A BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) is a four-year program open to new students or existing registered nurses with associate’s degrees.
The BSN curriculum introduces nurses to nursing theory and clinical practice, focusing on how to provide patient care by performing physical exams, administering medication, working alongside other health professionals, and being a general support lifeline in a patient’s time of need.
Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (ABSN) programs are pre-licensure programs for students with/without a registered nursing (RN) license who wish to enter the nursing field with a Bachelor’s degree. They may or may not have a Bachelor’s degree in another area.
ABSN programs allow nursing students to earn their BSN in as little as 16 months. It involves intensive coursework in human sciences. So, expect studies in microbiology, reproductive health, pharmacology, and health maintenance.
For example, the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Northeastern University Bouve College of Health Sciences – School of Nursing is a 16-month, 4-semester program requiring 67 credit hours with nursing simulation work and 300+ clinical hours.
Students enrolled in an ABSN program need to complete 300 to 700 clinical hours and their nursing coursework. You must undertake this time in a hospital or health setting under the supervision of a qualified nurse. The goal is to have you work your way to managing a small caseload eventually. Consider this the “hands-on experience” aspect of nursing education.
For a sample curriculum by semester, refer to the breakdown below, courtesy of the Northeastern University Bouve College of Health Sciences – School of Nursing.
|NRSG 2001||Foundations of Professional Nursing Practice||2|
|NRSG 2220||Nursing Health Assessment and Fundamental Nursing Skills||3|
|NRSG 2221||Lab for NRSG 2220||1|
|NRSG 2350||Integrated Pathophysiology and Pharmaceutical Interventions for Nursing Practice||6|
|NRSG 3302||Nursing with Women & Families||3|
|NRSG 3303||Clinical for NRSG 3302||2|
|NRSG 2210||Influences on Health and Illness: A Nursing Perspective||3|
|NRSG 3320||Nursing Care of Adults||4|
|NRSG 3321||Clinical for NRSG 3320||2|
|NRSG 3400||Nursing and the Promotion of Mental Health||3|
|NRSG 3401||Clinical for NRSG 3400||2|
|NRSG 3323NRSG 3323||Advanced Assessment and Interventions||1|
|NRSG 3324||Lab for NRSG 3323||1|
|NRSG 3420||Nursing Care of Adults2||4|
|NRSG 3421||Clinical for NRSG 3420||2|
|NRSG 4502||Nursing Care of the Child||4|
|NRSG 4503||Clinical for NRSG 4502||2|
|NRSG 5220||Introduction to Research Methods and Applications for Healthcare||4|
|NRSG 4995||Comprehensive Nursing Practicum||3|
|NRSG 4996||Clinical for NRSG 4995||2|
|NRSG 4604||Public Health Community Nursing||3|
|NRSG 4605||Clinical for NRSG 4604||2|
|NRSG 2150||Ethical Healthcare Integrating Genetics and Genomics||4|
|NRSG 4610||Managing and Leading in Nursing||4|
At the time of application, many ABSN schools require that students complete the following courses with a C or better grade.
The two most significant educational pieces with ABSN education are nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations outside of coursework. Both comprise hands-on learning alongside instructors who help you practice clinical skills in a simulated setting without interacting with patients.
Nursing simulation labs allow nursing students to practice their core clinical skills in a controlled environment. Each candidate learns vital medical skills, such as catheter injections, NG tube injections, wound care, and IV placements. Students perform this simulation in staged hospital rooms, with the aim being to replicate real-time clinical situations.
A debriefing session follows all simulations with instructors and classmates to learn from one another. Expect to receive feedback, including criticism on mistakes, as you hone your nursing skills.
Clinical rotations place nursing students in real hospitals and other healthcare settings. You apply all theoretical knowledge and clinical skills into practice here. Expect to build off your simulation lab experience with actual tasks, such as utilizing clinical skills, conducting interviews, treating patients, and other tasks requiring direct contact with patients.
Also, clinical rotations aim to introduce you to potential future employers. So, it is not uncommon to receive an offer before graduating from the program.
The number of clinical hours required depends on the ABSN program. You can expect this figure to have a lower limit of 300 hours and a higher limit of 1000 hours.
Here is a sample clinical curriculum, courtesy of Marian University’s ABSN program.
|1||NSG 201 Health Assessment and Communication|
|1||NSG 241 Fundamentals|
|2||NSG 331 Care of the Adult Client in Community /Acute Care Settings I|
|2||NSG 335 Mental Health Nursing|
|3||NSG 307 Care of the Childbearing Client in Community/Acute Care Settings|
|3||NSG 317 Care of the Pediatric Client in Community /Acute Care Settings|
|3||NSG 431 Care of the Adult Client in Community/Acute Care Settings II|
|4||NSG 441 Leadership/Community in the Nursing Profession|
|4||NSG 451 Clinical Immersion Experience|
The routine for your clinical rotation depends on your school.
Many clinical shifts start with a pep talk between the clinical instructor and other nursing students.
Afterward, you begin a shift, where a clinical instructor walks you through a typical day. Sometimes, you may take vitals and manage various patient situations that will allow you to put your theoretical coursework into practice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a registered nurse is $75,330.
Note: many factors influence BSN salaries, including the state, years of experience, type of shift (day versus overnight), and the hospital or health care system.
Here is a list of the top five highest paying states for BSN nurses, courtesy of the ZipRecruiter.
Here are six high-paying BSN jobs. All salaries are courtesy of Payscale.
Title: Operating room nurse
Description: Operating room nurses work in, you guessed it, operating rooms. They deal directly with patients before and after surgery, working alongside surgeons to ensure that everything goes according to plan.
Average Annual Salary: $91,600
Title: Travel nurse
Description: Travel nurses provide medical services all over the country. They work to fulfill staffing needs in underrepresented areas, performing short-term contracts anywhere from 6 weeks to a year. Some travel nurses earn upwards of $5000 per week.
Average Annual Salary: $99,200
Title: Pharmaceutical nurse
Description: Pharmaceutical nurses specialize in jobs within the pharmaceutical industry, heavy on sales and technical writing. You may also work as a liaison between drugmakers and pharmaceutical industries on the correct use of drugs and therapies.
Average Annual Salary: $84,300
Title: Neonatal nursing
Description: Neonatal nurses work to diagnose and treat premature babies and babies suffering from sight-threatening conditions. They work to cut down on fatal infant rates and keep families well informed of their baby’s health.
Average Annual Salary: $70.780
Title: Critical Care Nurse
Description: Intensive care unit (ICU) nurses work in high-octane environments, diagnosing and treating critically ill patients in last-hour situations.
Average Annual Salary: $73,730
Title: Informatics Nursing
Description: Infomatic nurses work with numbers, employing technology to monitor healthcare systems and programs. It’s an excellent alternative for nurses who prefer not to practice in a typical hospital setting.
Average Annual Salary:$79,200
When choosing an ABSN program, keep the following in mind:
Accreditation: Look for ABSN programs accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Accredited schools tell the world it adheres to common standards of quality with formal recognition by peers. More and more hospitals and healthcare settings require degrees from accredited schools to ensure their talent pool is up to date on best practices and teaching standards.
Cost: BSNs can cost anywhere from $9000 to $100,000+, depending on the school and status as a public or private institution. Qualified students can complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for grants, work-study aid, and loans.
NCLEX-RN passage rate: Look for schools that offer an NCLEX-RN passage rate of 85 percent or higher.
According to 2017 statistics from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the national average first-time pass rate for BSN holders was 90%.
Location: ABSN programs have in-person and online options. The latter is an excellent choice for full-time jobholders who do not have the time to commit to on-site lessons. Expect no shortcuts with online programs, as it promises the same grading intensity and number of clinical hours to complete as traditional BSN programs.
Clinical partnerships: Look for BSN schools with an unwavering focus on keeping an active and robust local hospital connection. You shouldn’t be surprised to receive your first offer before graduating if you’re undertaking your ABSN in a college with such ties.
Success coaches: If your ABSN program offers success coaches to act as mentors, consider it a plus. When paired with such tutors, students can create individualized plans, improving their chances of success.
Individualized plans include:
The job outlook for BSNs is strong. According to a 2021 AACN survey, 76% of BSN graduates land a job within three months after graduating, and this percentage increases to a whopping 93% after four to six months. Additionally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects healthcare occupations to grow 14% through 2028.
It is also important to note that various state legislatures, hospital networks, and employers now require BSNs over registered nurses. For example, all military nurses applying for the US Army, US Navy, and US Air Force need to obtain a Bachelor’s degree.
Additionally, the state of New York passed a 2017 law, “BSN in 10”, which now requires all registered nurses to obtain a bachelor’s degree within ten years of receiving their license.
The nursing profession is one of the fastest-growing fields in the country, with excellent job prospects, high salaries, and the ability to move into different areas of specialization.
Yes, we feel an ABSN program is worth it.
Shorter time frame: You can complete accelerated nursing programs in a fraction of the time as traditional programs.
BSN over ADN: BSNs offer increased career prospects and higher salaries than Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)s. Also, most hospitals and health clinics require all nurses to hold a Bachelor’s Degree.
Due to high BSN demand, the state of New York passed a 2017 law, “BSN in 10”, which now requires all registered nurses to obtain their Bachelor’s Degree within ten years of receiving their license.
Enhanced Clinicals: Hands-on lab work exposes BSNs to real-world healthcare facilities. Under the supervision of a nurse, clinical students manage a small caseload, performing many actual nursing tasks such as conducting nursing assessments to wrapping a wound. Expect to see lots of actual patients and mannequins.
Improved Quality of Care: Studies have shown that BSNs enjoy a higher quality of care than registered nurses without a BSN. This perk includes a lower mortality rate, fewer clinical errors, and a lower readmission rate.
Specializations: BSN-trained nurses can move into dozens of disciplines, including but not limited to:
Higher Earnings Power: BSN-prepared nurses earn up to $10,000 more than registered nurses with an associate’s degree. In the state of Washington, BSN-prepared nurses earn an average annual salary of $94,000. With ten years of experience and specialization or two thrown in, that number can easily exceed $140,000.
Moving on Up: BSN-degree holders could pursue graduate-level training, allowing nurses to advance their careers in clinical or leadership positions. Depending on the role, nurses with MSN degrees may operate within collaborative environments or with greater autonomy and independence.
Nursing jobs available with a Master’s or Doctor of Nursing degree include certified registered nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners, which can specialize in subfields such as orthopedics, neonatal, and oncology. Salaries for nurse practitioners are very high. For example, the average salary for orthopedic nurse practitioners is $115,687 per year, nearly double that of first-year registered nurses.
5.BSNs can expect to make an average of $13,000 more per year than registered nurses.
All in all, ABSNs programs offer a fast track for nursing students to complete their degrees in as little as 16 months. This career path provides an excellent job outlook, high salaries, and the ability to move into different areas of specialization. Graduating with an ABSN will put you on the fast track to success in your professional life.
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