—Peter in Madison, WI
I have a psychology bachelor's and want to change careers to become an RN
(registered nurse). Is there any online nursing degree (specifically an online BSN) that will admit me without RN certification? I've heard there are accelerated second degree BSN programs that will admit me as an advanced second degree student and prep me to take the RN exam in a year or faster.
These special nursing degrees are also often called "second degree BSN programs" because they only admit students who already hold a bachelor's degree with a formal major in some area other than nursing.
These second degree programs are perfect for career changers like you who want to build upon their first bachelor's degree to earn a second accelerated BSN degree that will qualify them to take the RN exam at completion.
RN Certificate Requirements
Online nursing programs impose strict admission requirements. Most accredited online BSN programs require a valid RN license in the state where the applicant lives before admission.
And, in most cases, online programs are open only to applicants who have completed at least an associate's degree in science in nursing (ASN) and hold a valid state RN license.
What you'd like to know is if there are any accelerated online BSN degree programs that admit students who do not yet hold RN designations.
That question is complicated. Below are some of the career factors you'll need to consider.Why is the RN required?
Nursing education includes two components: theory (textbook) learning and hands-on work in a hospital setting. The latter is referred to as clinical training.
If you already hold an RN license, colleges assume you have completed both the required foundation lab courses, such as chemistry, and the required clinical hours.
A local supervised clinical setting is required for all online degrees in nursing. Most RNs are already employed in a local healthcare facility. This means they can complete advanced courses online while continuing to work. Their work setting becomes the “supervised clinical” setting for the online BSN degree.
You can use online education to make a nursing career change. But first you will need to spend a few months to a year completing clinical experience and foundational science (lab) courses in a residential or campus setting.
Accelerated Second Degree BSN
The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's School of Nursing, for example, offers an accelerated online BSN
for individuals who hold a bachelor's degree in an area other than nursing. This program is designed to allow online students to earn a second degree—a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)—in just 12 months.
To enter the Wisconsin program, you must already hold a bachelor's degree as well as a CNA (certified nursing assistant) certification. This is to ensure you have completed hands-on clinicals and labs in a supervised setting. Completing the CNA provides exposure to the healthcare field and ensures an understanding of basic nursing concepts.
To earn a CNA, you must complete both a clinical component and pass your state’s CNA exam.
Even with a CNA, the Wisconsin program—like all distance learning nursing degrees—requires BSN students to visit campus for three one-week “boot camps.” These sessions are designed to demonstrate advanced clinical skills.
Online CNA Certificate
Check your local community college for a hybrid degree plus online CNA certificate or diploma program. These programs are also called nurses’ aide programs. Technical and trade colleges as well as local healthcare facilities may all offer training toward the CNA.
The CNA will be your quickest and cheapest route to meeting the clinical experience you need to enter an online accelerated nursing program. You may still need to take a few residential lab courses in anatomy, biology and chemistry to switch to a career in nursing.
Because of the severe shortage of nurses, almost every state sponsors a RN-to-BSN degree option through distance learning. Check our online nursing degree guide for leads on a local or state college that offers online bachelor’s degrees that utilize local hospital settings for clinical training.
CNA Certification InformationMasters in Nursing Online: How to Choose OneBecome an RN Online: Choosing Online RN DegreesBest Buy Online Masters Degrees in HealthcareOnline Nursing Degrees (GetEducated.com Online Degree Directory)
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Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as "for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students." In 1989 she designed America's first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees, Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student's Guide to College. She oversees the best online college rankings and reviews for GetEducated.com.