Accelerated Nursing

Becoming a Nurse with a Non-Nursing Bachelor’s Degree

Summary: ABSN tracks like the one at CTX allow you to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or 60 previous college credits. Nursing is an ever-changing field offering good pay, job security, and other benefits. Earning a BSN opens a world of opportunity for advanced study and specialization.

Start where you are.

Do you dream of becoming a nurse? There is a tremendous need for new nurses across the country. The events of the past year have inspired many to change their careers to nursing. But what if you already have a bachelor’s degree in some other discipline? You might be wondering, “How do I become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree?” The good news is that you don’t have to start from square one. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track at Concordia University Texas offers an online nursing degree for non-nurses. You can leverage your previous college credit to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

What is an Accelerated BSN for Non-Nurses?

ABSN programs are designed for people who want to change careers to nursing. They allow you to apply your previous college coursework toward the fulfillment of general education requirements, so the remainder of your coursework will be comprised of nursing-specific material. In sum, ABSN tracks make nursing degrees accessible for non-nurses.

The ABSN track at CTX requires applicants to have already earned either 60+ college credits or a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. As we’ll discuss a little later, there are specific prerequisites to complete before you may be accepted to the track.

Our accelerated BSN comprises 63 credit hours over four 16-week semesters and includes concepts such as cultural diversity, spiritual care, ethics, and evidence-based practice.

ABSN@CTX follows a blended learning model, made up of three main components: online coursework, hands-on nursing skills and simulation labs, and in-person clinical rotations.

Online Coursework

This component of the ABSN track includes nursing theory and fundamentals. Our online courses are taught by the same esteemed faculty who teach our traditional, on-site nursing courses.

As with traditional nursing programs, ABSN@CTX requires you to finish your coursework within an established timeframe. However, with our accelerated nursing track, you don’t have to be present in a classroom or study at a specific time. You have the freedom to complete your nursing theory coursework anywhere you like, at whatever time of day is convenient for you.

Being organized is key to success when completing coursework. It’s best to follow a consistent routine and work in a distraction-free environment where you can focus on your studies.

With our online learning management system (LMS), you can:

  • Read material and listen to lectures.
  • Engage in interactive learning modules.
  • Receive and submit assignments.
  • Talk with fellow students in our online discussion forum.
  • Join chat sessions with your instructors.
  • Stay organized using our calendar function.

Nursing Skills and Simulation Labs

Concordia nursing instructor with student and simulation manikin

In addition to online coursework, the ABSN track at CTX includes hands-on skills and simulation labs. These labs are held in our state-of-the-art facility that mimics a real clinical environment.

Skills labs involve practicing basic tasks such as checking vital signs, then gradually progressing to more complex tasks like tracheostomy care. All labs take place under the watchful eye of our faculty.

In simulation labs, students practice in-person patient care on both high-fidelity manikins and mock patients (usually fellow students or instructors). Our manikins exhibit lifelike symptoms and reactions to care. Instructors maneuver the manikins behind the scenes in real time, giving students the opportunity to think on their feet in an authentic way.

Following each scenario, instructors hold debriefing sessions with students to go over what they did correctly and what they could improve.

Both skills and simulation labs allow students to apply the nursing concepts they’ve learned in a safe environment, building the confidence necessary for clinical rotations.

Clinical Rotations

ABSN@CTX partners with top Austin-area healthcare facilities to provide clinical placements in which students work with registered nurses and nursing faculty to provide hands-on patient care under supervision. These placements provide real-world nursing experience and introduce students to the area’s leading healthcare employers.

Clinical experiences provide exposure to the following:

  • Adult Health
  • Behavioral Health
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Intensive Care
  • Acute Care
  • Long-term Care
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Global/Community Health

How to Change Careers to Nursing

Returning to school to become a nurse requires a substantial investment of time, money, and effort. Before you apply to nursing school, we have some advice to help you prepare.

Research the Role

The best way to ensure that you’re pursuing the right profession is to check it out first-hand. There are a couple of ways to go about this. You can contact a local hospital’s nursing director and request to shadow a registered nurse for one or more shifts. This will give you a taste of the job requirements and a sense of whether you’re cut out to be a nurse.

Another option is to take a paid or volunteer position as a patient-care tech or nursing assistant. This experience will help you decide whether you have a knack for being a caregiver. It will also allow you to experience what it’s like to work in a clinical setting.

Find Your School

There is no shortage of accelerated nursing programs in the U.S. If you have researched the role and still feel that nursing is for you, your next focus should be finding the right school.

Accreditation and Approval

If you’re looking to enroll in a quality ABSN track, make sure the program has national accreditation and is in good standing with its state board of nursing.

Accredited programs have been approved by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). These entities work to confirm the integrity of nursing programs, ensuring that they graduate nurses capable of providing evidence-based care, leading change, and transforming healthcare.

While the board of nursing in each state is responsible for the health and safety of its citizens, the protocol for granting nurse licensure can vary by state. In addition to accreditation, make sure the program you select has the approval of its home state.

If you’re looking to apply to ABSN@CTX, you’ll find that our nursing track is approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K Street, NW Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.

Enrollment Capacity

Offering a successful nursing program requires the procurement of adequate faculty, classroom space, and clinical placements. Many schools don’t have the resources to keep up with the demand for seats in their programs. This has led to a competitive dynamic among nursing schools.

The ABSN track at CTX offers three start dates per year — in January, May, and August — so we can accommodate a greater number of students annually. In addition, we have solid partnerships with top local healthcare facilities, with whom we partner to provide clinical placements.

ABSN student standing in hospital

Investigate Funding Options

No matter where you go, the cost of your nursing education will require a great deal of financial planning. In addition to the cost of tuition, be sure to consider additional fees and the price of books, for example.

Before you apply to an ABSN track, you’ll need to be sure you can pay for it. Typically, ABSN students don’t qualify for federal, state, or university grants. However, you may qualify for a federal direct loan, private loan, or third-party scholarship.

Federal direct loans are low-interest options available through the U.S. Department of Education. You must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine what type of loan you’re eligible to receive.

Private loans are credit-based loans available through banks and other financial institutions. Look for banks and credit unions that offer loans with low-interest rates and good terms.

Many third-party scholarships are available to nursing students at the national, state and local levels. You can start your scholarship search by perusing this list.

Keep in mind that when you choose the ABSN track at CTX, you’re investing in a quality education that you will complete in as few as 16 months. Our program will prepare you to sit confidently for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN®), which you must pass to obtain nursing licensure — and ultimately, to become a successful nurse.

Requirements If You Already Have a Bachelor’s Degree

If you wish to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to fulfill a few basic pre- and post-acceptance requirements to enter the program.

ABSN@CTX Admissions Requirements

You need only contact us to get the ball rolling. Once you inquire about admission to our program, we will assign you a dedicated admissions counselor who will answer any questions you have about applying, evaluate your transcripts, determine your eligibility for the track, and assist you with the entire enrollment process.

Students looking to enroll in our ABSN track must meet the following criteria:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in prerequisite natural science courses.
  • Transfer applicants: pre-nursing degree requirements, cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Second-degree students: cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • Pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS VI) within one year of your application deadline. No more than two attempts to reach minimum score requirements are permitted within a one-year period. Please note: This requirement has been waived for students applying for admission to the fall 2021 term.

To be accepted into our ABSN track, you must also complete each prerequisite course with a “C” grade or higher. CTX offers these prerequisites through online study in eight-week sessions, so you can satisfy your requirements on the same e-Learning system that you’ll use for your future accelerated nursing courses.

In addition to helping you become accustomed to our online learning platform, our online prerequisite course option gives you the flexibility to complete coursework when and where it works best for you, as long as you meet required deadlines.

Post-Acceptance Requirements

Once you’re accepted into ABSN@CTX, you’ll need to complete the following:

  • American Heart Association BLS for Healthcare Providers CPR certification.
  • Criminal background check.
  • Drug screening.
  • Certified background checks for both the University and the Texas Board of Nursing.
  • All immunization and health participation requirements.

You must submit proof that you’ve fulfilled all of the requirements before you begin your studies. Requirements are subject to change and we’ll provide them upon your acceptance.

The Perks of Being a Nurse

Changing careers to nursing makes sense once you understand the many benefits of becoming an RN. Whether you’re seeking fair pay, stability, or a meaningful career — nursing has you covered.

nursing student using stethoscope to check patient heartbeat

Job Security

Due to the retirement of many nurses, an increase in chronic conditions like obesity and diabetes, and the aging and associated medical needs of the Baby Boomer generation, the demand for registered nurses in the U.S. is at a record high. In fact, there’s expected to be a 12.1 percent increase in job opportunities for nurses nationwide between 2018 and 2028. In Texas, job growth for nurses is projected to hit 16.8 percent within the same timeframe (projectionscentral.com). This means that nurses will be in-demand for the foreseeable future.

A Fair Wage

As of May 2019, the mean annual wage for a registered nurse in the U.S. is $77,460 (BLS.gov). This is significantly higher than the mean annual wage for all occupations in the U.S., $53,490.

Flexible Work Schedules

Nurses can elect to work full- or part-time. Typical full-time work weeks might include:

  • Three 12-hour Shifts
  • Four 10-hour Shifts
  • Five 8-hour Shifts

Alternatively, nurses can opt to work on a call-in or per diem basis.

Portability

Under the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), nurses can practice in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses. As of March 2021, more than 30 states have become nursing compact states, including Texas.

A Choice of Settings

As a registered nurse, you are not required to work in a hospital. Nurses are needed in a variety of settings, including:

  • Behavioral Health Facilities
  • Clinics
  • Private Practice
  • Rehab Centers
  • Universities and Schools
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Nursing Homes
  • Patient Homes
  • Correctional Facilities

Specialty Options

Once you earn your nursing certification and gain some experience, you may elect to pick an area of specialty. Many nurses pursue additional certifications that may be paid for by employers. You can opt to work in a variety of specialties including:

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology, NICU
  • Pediatrics
  • Oncology
  • Intensive-care Nursing
  • Cardiac and Vascular Care
  • Behavioral Health
  • Gerontology
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Hospice and Palliative Care
  • Critical Care Transport

Job Satisfaction

ABSN student working in sim lab

Nursing is a rewarding profession. Nurses can leave work each day knowing that their job is meaningful — that they make a difference. For several years running, a Gallup poll has found that nursing is the most trusted profession in the U.S.

An Ever-evolving Profession

Advances in technology and shifts in our nation’s demographics are two of many factors leading to changes to the nursing landscape.

The Emergence of Telehealth

Technological advances and a rise in the number of insurance companies covering telehealth services have led to an increase in virtual patient visits. For some patients, traveling to a hospital or doctor’s office can be expensive and inconvenient. Telehealth appointments allow these patients access to care by eliminating transportation and other barriers.

Nurses help patients use telehealth by teaching them about its benefits and providing simple instructions for its use. More and more, nurses use telehealth visits to help doctors manage their schedules — keeping non-urgent patients at home, allowing them to focus on critical patients.

Telehealth has also changed the way nurses care for patients being discharged from the hospital. When a nurse discharges a patient with an urgent medical condition, he/she can keep an eye on the patient to ensure that his/her health doesn’t decline over time. And if the patient’s condition does worsen, nurses can schedule a visit immediately. In this way, the use of telehealth helps to reduce mortality rates.

Growing Need for Bilingual Nurses

According to the Pew Research Center, one in five U.S. households speak a language other than English. The U.S. has enacted legislation that requires the provision of an interpreter in healthcare settings — either in-person, by phone or video — for patients who don’t speak English. However, it can sometimes take hours for that interpreter to arrive. The need for bilingual nurses remains at an all-time high.

While Spanish is the most common second language needed to communicate with patients, other languages — such as Russian, Vietnamese, and Chinese — are in-demand as well, depending on the region of the country.

Bilingual nurses can translate important information between physicians and patients. Having a bilingual nurse present for patient admission, education, consent, and discharge, has been found to reduce readmission and complication rates (minoritynurse.com).

Why Should You Aim for a BSN?

There are other paths to becoming a registered nurse, but a BSN is the preferred degree for RNs in the U.S. Let’s look at why it’s so important to attain this valued degree.

Concordia Texas nursing instructor with class

A Strong Educational Foundation

As the parameters of nursing evolve, employers are seeking nurses with the critical thinking skills and leadership qualities required of BSN graduates.

Patient Outcomes

In addition, as found by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a higher proportion of BSN-educated nurses on staff is linked to better patient outcomes. These outcomes include lower:

  • Incidence of pressure ulcers.
  • Post-operative deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
  • Hospital-acquired infections.
  • Post-surgical mortality.

The foundation’s Future of Nursing report recommended increasing the percentage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the U.S. to 80 percent by 2020. We have yet to reach this goal. In the state of New York, the governor has signed into law a requirement that all registered nurses earn a BSN within 10 years of initial licensure. And other states are following suit.

Preparation for Advanced Study

Another benefit of attaining a BSN degree is that it prepares you for advanced study. For example, earning a BSN leaves you positioned to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing, the advanced degree required to become a nurse practitioner. Other advanced opportunities include becoming a certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA) or a certified nurse midwife (CNM).

Do You Have What It Takes to Be a Nurse?

There are many personal indicators that can predict whether you have a natural inclination for nursing.

What Is Your “Why”?

Identify your reason for wanting to become a nurse. You might be drawn to nursing because it’s an in-demand career with the promise of good pay. But if you don’t have a deeper motivation for becoming a nurse, money alone will not leave you satisfied in this demanding profession. You should have a true desire to care for others and improve lives.

Concordia University Texas - Nursing student smiling

Personal Characteristics

The most successful nurses exhibit the following qualities:

  • A strong work ethic.
  • Calm under pressure.
  • Non-judgmental.
  • Ability to problem-solve quickly.
  • Comfortable handling patient hygiene/bodily fluids.
  • Compassion for patients and their families.
  • The ability to work well in a team.
  • The understanding that not every patient will get better.

Physical Readiness

Nurses are commonly required to lift and reposition patients. In addition, they’re on their feet — walking, standing, pushing, pulling, and bending for sometimes 12 hours at a time. If you can handle being on-the-go for lengthy shifts, you might have the physical readiness to become a nurse.

Learn More About ABSN@CTX Today

You should now have a sense of what it takes to become a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, what it’s like to be a nurse, and how the field is evolving. If you’re ready to take the next step toward your future in nursing, contact us today. We’ll be happy to help you get there.

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