How to Become an RN Fast in 5 Steps

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A traditional, four-year BSN program is not ideal for everyone. If you are a career changer or enrolled in a non-nursing program, you may want to know how to become an RN fast. Through an accelerated nursing program, you can earn your BSN faster than with a traditional program.

nurse laughing

Making the career change to nursing puts you on a fulfilling path where you can make a tangible, positive impact on people’s lives. Whether you are currently enrolled in non-nursing college courses or have already earned a bachelor’s degree, it’s never too late to pivot toward becoming a registered nurse (RN).

There may seem to be many barriers to becoming a nurse, especially if you are on a different career track. Earning your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) through the traditional route requires four years of schooling in a nursing program, which may not be ideal for many career changers. If you are asking, “How to become an RN fast?” the answer is through an accelerated BSN program.

Felician University offers on-ground and hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs. Through the on-ground program, you can earn your BSN in 18 months, but if you prefer the combination of online learning with in-person labs and clinical rotations, you can earn your BSN in 16 months through the hybrid ABSN.

The accelerated timeline does not mean the quality of your education is less than what you would receive in a traditional, four-year BSN program. An ABSN program condenses what you would learn over four years into 16 to 18 months. At Felician University, you will receive a high-quality and comprehensive education that prepares you to become a skilled and confident RN.

Once you have put together a short list of accelerated nursing programs, the steps below will help you learn how to become an RN fast.

1. Reach Out to an ABSN Admissions Counselor

The first step to becoming an RN fast is reaching out to the admissions counselors at each of your preferred nursing schools. At Felician University, you will be assigned an admissions counselor who can answer your questions about the program, assist you with meeting admissions requirements, and guide you throughout the admissions process.

Be prepared to talk about why you want to become a nurse, your previous education history, and any commitments you may have. This information will help gauge whether the program is right for you and determine an ideal start date. Having your academic transcripts handy will also be beneficial for this conversation.

After your first conversation with an academic counselor, you should have a strong feeling about whether the program is worth pursuing and a list of the next steps before enrolling.

2. Create an Academic Plan

Felician nursing student sitting on floor using laptop

An academic plan essentially answers the question, “How to become an RN fast?” Depending on your education history, you may have to complete prerequisite courses before enrolling in nursing school. Your academic plan will guide you through this process.

These courses cover material the school has determined necessary for students to know before beginning the program. In an accelerated BSN program designed to build off a student’s previous education, they are essential to ensuring all students start with a strong foundation.

It's important to remember that prerequisite courses and the passing threshold vary by nursing school. In Felician’s ABSN, students must complete the following prerequisites with a grade of C+ or higher as part of our admissions requirements:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology I and II
  • Pathophysiology
  • Principles of Chemistry
  • Statistics I
  • Lifespan Development

You may need to complete some or all the prerequisite courses before enrolling. Fortunately, your admissions counselor will help you reference your transcripts to identify missing prerequisites and help you determine where you can complete them. With this information in mind, together, you can choose an ideal start date for nursing school.

3. Gather Application Materials and Submit

Once you have completed your prerequisite courses, you can apply to your desired nursing programs. At Felician, our admissions counselors will guide you through this process and ensure you include all required materials in your application.

Carefully review the application and admissions requirements to ensure you are ready to apply. Felician’s ABSN requires prospective students to submit official transcripts of coursework, a resume, a letter of intent to the School of Nursing, and two professional or academic references.

Once you and your admissions counselor determine your application is ready, you can submit it. The next step is waiting to find out whether you are admitted. When applying to nursing school, it helps to cast a wide net to increase the likelihood of admittance into a nursing program.

Felician ABSN student standing and smiling

4. Begin an Accelerated Nursing Program

The hard part begins once you are accepted into an accelerated nursing program. Nursing school provides a challenging curriculum that prepares students for the rigors of their careers. While nursing school will test you, it is not impossible. You will develop tools and procedures to help you find success.

Your coursework in nursing consists of three components: online or in-person coursework, nursing simulation and skills labs, and clinical rotations. An ABSN is a fast-paced program that requires you to juggle responsibilities and coursework. You must be quick on your feet and ready to adapt to changes.

Success in nursing school hinges on maintaining solid and healthy study habits to stay on top of your coursework and meet the demands of simulation labs and clinical rotations. Consistently review your notes before each class, create a study schedule, and ask as many questions as possible throughout courses, labs, and clinical rotations.

nurse with manikin

An accelerated nursing program is a great alternative for career changers wanting to become nurses. Read more to learn how an accelerated nursing program works.

5. Pass the NCLEX and Earn Licensure

Before becoming a registered nurse, the last step is to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) and earn your license. The NCLEX is a unique and comprehensive exam, requiring you to apply critical thinking skills to find the best answer.

Rather than testing you on memorized facts, the NCLEX gauges your understanding of essential nursing concepts and ability to make appropriate decisions in each situation. You will face a series of multiple-choice questions in which several answers are correct. Your job is to determine which is the most appropriate.

To prepare for the NCLEX, it is best to start studying early on in nursing school by taking practice tests and reviewing sample questions. Once you graduate, dedicate the next months before the exam to intense studying. When you prepare well ahead of time, you will improve your chances of success and feel confident as you take the exam.

Why Become an RN?

Registered nurses are in high demand because of the nursing shortage, which is projected to affect the entire country through 2030, hitting the western region the hardest. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, a 2022 nursing workforce analysis published in Health Affairs determined that the number of registered nurses decreased by more than 100,000 between 2020 and 2021, the largest drop in four decades.

Felician University logo etched in glass door

The current nursing shortage results from a combination of factors: nursing school enrollment not meeting the demand, a significant portion of the workforce nearing retirement, and an aging population. For these reasons, now is a great time to become an RN; registered nurses experience high job availability and stability.

Nursing is also a rewarding profession filled with opportunity. As an RN, you will be free to choose the specialty you find most fulfilling, from critical care to neonatal nursing, and you can advance to leadership opportunities and career development.

Many career advancement opportunities require nurses to go back to school and earn their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). A BSN is the minimum requirement for MSN and DNP programs, so earning your BSN is an essential step in your career.

There are many answers to the question, “Why become an RN?” While the above is important to consider, the simplest answer is that nursing allows you to make a meaningful impact on people’s lives. If you hear the calling to help people during some of the most stressful moments of their lives, then nursing as a second degree is a path worth pursuing.

nursing students in class

Learn more about whether nursing school is worth it and decide if it’s time to make the career change.

Become an RN Fast with Felician University’s ABSN

Nursing as a second career is a fulfilling opportunity for career changers. Not only does it allow you to have a positive impact on people’s lives, but it also provides opportunities for career growth. Earning your BSN sets you up for an exciting and rewarding career.

Through Felician University’s ABSN, you will learn the essential skills and knowledge needed to become a confident registered nurse. Through our curriculum, hands-on simulation labs, and clinical rotations, you will work alongside experienced and dedicated faculty while acquiring a high-quality education.

If you have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, you may qualify for our ABSN. Reach out to our admissions counselors today, and they will help you understand how to become an RN fast and assist you throughout the admissions process.