How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

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If you are wondering "how long does it take to become an RN?" there are more options than you might think. However, with the University of Mount St. Vincent's Accelerated BS in Nursing program, you can complete nursing school and become a registered nurse in as few as 16 months.

nurse adjusts patient's pillow

When working toward becoming an RN, you must plan your journey to anticipate what will come and the nursing school timeline. This means asking the question, “How long does it take to become an RN?” so that you can make the best decision for yourself.

At the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, prospective nurses with previous college experience can complete their nursing degree on a shorter timeline and enter this exciting and rewarding career field sooner. But first, let’s discuss the time it will take to complete nursing school.

How Long is Nursing School?

So, how long does it take to become a nurse? Generally, a high school graduate will take four years to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS in Nursing) degree. Students typically enter these programs with little to no previous college experience. Most programs consist of two years of general education requirements and nursing prerequisites. From there, students enter the final two years of the program with nursing practice courses, skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations.

Alternatively, like the ABSN program offered through the University of Mount Saint Vincent, you can earn a BS in Nursing in as few as 16 months by leveraging your previous credits from a non-nursing college program. Once you transfer any credits and complete the prerequisites for the program, you can enroll in the ABSN program. This accelerated curriculum provides you with the same quality of education as a traditional four-year BS in Nursing program.

Choosing a Nursing Program

While a BS in Nursing isn’t the only path to becoming a nurse, more and more students are choosing a bachelor’s degree to RN pathway. The National Institute of Health reports that due to better patient outcomes at hospitals with more nurses with a BS in Nursing, hospitals are becoming more exclusive, often requiring nurses to have a BS in Nursing to be hired. While it’s possible to complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN) in around two years, your options for work will be more limited.

If you have a previous non-nursing bachelor’s degree, are eligible for the ABSN program at the University of Mount Saint Vincent, and would like to become a nurse in a shorter amount of time, you don’t have to sacrifice future career opportunities to finish nursing school fast. You can earn your BS in Nursing and become a registered nurse in as few as 16 months.

Nursing students practicing using a stethoscope

Steps to Becoming a Nurse

Becoming a nurse takes time, hard work, and dedication. By planning, you can lessen stress and be better prepared for success. Let’s review five steps to becoming a nurse and explore how you can effectively move through each step.

1. Apply for Nursing School

Once you have reviewed your educational options and selected the program that best fits you, it is time to apply. You can do this by contacting an admission counselor. They will walk you through the nursing school timeline and help you determine your eligibility requirements.

From there, you will begin compiling all the requirements needed to apply, including previous transcripts. The application will be completed online, and your admission counselor will help you through every step. Keep in mind your application may be contingent on prerequisites you haven’t completed yet.

2. Complete Prerequisites

Your program start date will depend heavily on the number of prerequisites you need to finish. It is important to work with your ABSN admission counselor to transfer all possible credits and create an academic plan. They will help you determine where and when to take any remaining courses.

Prerequisite classes at the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program include:

  • General Chemistry
  • Anatomy & Physiology I & II
  • Microbiology
  • Psychology Across the Lifespan
  • College English
  • College Math
nurse studying

Learn everything you need to know about prerequisites before applying to the program.

3. Complete Your Nursing Degree

Once your start date arrives, 16 months of hard work stand between you and graduation. A nursing degree is not the end of the process, as you still need to pass the NCLEX exam to attain licensure (which we will explore below). During the ABSN program, you can expect to gain a holistic nursing education with the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s focus on patient-centered care.

The ABSN program comprises on-campus coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities. This way, you can apply what you learn in your classes to practical experiences.

4. Pass the NCLEX Exam

When you finally complete your BS in Nursing degree, the only obstacle between you and working as a fully qualified nurse is passing your NCLEX-RN® exam. The NCLEX is a licensure test that determines your basic understanding of nursing practices and how that knowledge applies to patient care.

Students in class reviewing notes

Your nursing coursework will help prepare you for the NCLEX, but you should still create a study plan and keep to it throughout your program. It will be challenging, but many resources and study materials are available to help prepare you for the exam.

5. Apply for Nursing Jobs

You can apply for nursing jobs once you pass the NCLEX and earn your nursing license. While most nurses choose to work in a traditional hospital setting, you can work in other places. From family practice to outpatient care, there are endless opportunities for working as a nurse.

Interested in travel nursing? Here’s more about what travel nurses do and how to become one.

nurse wearing face mask standing outside

A great way to begin networking is by leaning into the connections you made through clinical rotations. Whether you apply at a familiar facility or contact mentors for reference letters, this will be an excellent resource in your future career.

Begin Your Nursing Journey Today

If you are still wondering, “How long does it take to become an RN?” or are unsure of what that path looks like, our admission team would be happy to speak with you and discuss your next steps. Your dream of becoming a nurse can happen sooner than you think with the help of the University of Mount Saint Vincent’s ABSN program. Contact us today to learn more.