To Address Shortages, University Nursing Programs Offering Accelerated Programs

March 20, 2024
University of Vermont’s new Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program is designed for students with bachelor's degrees in fields other than nursing

To address the ongoing nursing shortage nationwide, many university nursing programs are launching accelerated training programs to attract career-changers into the nursing profession. 

The National Center for Health Workforce Analysis projects a shortage of 78,610 full-time equivalent (FTE) registered nurses in 2025, with the shortages worse in some states that others. The 10 states with the largest projected shortage in 2035 are Washington (26 percent), Georgia (21 percent), California (18 percent), Oregon (16 percent), Michigan (15 percent), Idaho (15 percent), Louisiana (13 percent), North Carolina (13 percent), New Jersey (12 percent), and South Carolina (11 percent). 

The University of Vermont’s (UVM) new Direct Entry Master of Science in Nursing Program is designed for students with bachelor's degrees in fields other than nursing. The new direct entry program offers a partial solution to increase the nursing workforce through an accelerated path for those with non-nursing backgrounds to enter the profession. 

“At the core of this new direct-entry program lies a profound commitment to redefining the landscape of nursing education,” says Dr. Jennifer Laurent, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., a nurse practitioner, professor, and the Director of Nursing Graduate Programs at UVM, in a statement.

The program starts with a full-time, on-campus year, culminating with the NCLEX-RN exam that gives students a license to work in Vermont. Students also have the opportunity to gain professional expertise while earning a registered nurse’s salary and completing the two-year master’s degree online. 

Following the pre-licensure year, which includes 675 hours of direct clinical experience, primarily within the University of Vermont Health Network, students advance into the master’s curriculum and select an area of focus, fostering the development of niche skills that are increasingly vital in healthcare today. 

Iowa-based Drake University has announced an accelerated Bachelor Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, which will begin in the Fall 2024 semester.

 Students have two options to complete the degree. Those that have the prerequisites completed, with or without a Bachelor of Science degree, can begin the 12-month ABSN course work. Those that complete the prerequisites at Drake will be able to graduate with two degrees—Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)—without needing to transfer to another institution.

Broadlawns Medical Center will serve as the primary site for clinical rotations in students’ fourth year, further expanding its partnership with Drake after opening a community clinic next to campus in September 2023.

“We are in the midst of a massive shift in healthcare in the U.S. — leaning more heavily on nurses and nurse practitioners to deliver care and keep our communities healthy,” said Mary Owens, D.N.P., M.S.N., recently hired as the Nursing Program Director, in a statement. “The ABSN is uniquely designed to prepare students to fill these needs and to pursue a meaningful career.”

In another examnple, the Ohio State University College of Nursing is enrolling students in a new program to help graduates who already have their bachelor’s degree but now feel drawn to a career in healthcare.

The college launched the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (aBSN) program for students who have finished college in a non-nursing field, but desire to have a career in nursing. It’s a full-time program that can be completed in as few as 18 months.

We see such a growing need in the community for more nurses. … This program creates another avenue for students to enter nursing with a previous bachelor’s degree, and expand their education based on prior knowledge and experiences,” said Wendy Bowles, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., assistant dean for baccalaureate programs in the College of Nursing, in a statement. “It will increase the number of nurses we can get into the profession, and provides a faster pathway to complete a BSN and become a registered nurse.”

Students will have both coursework and real-world clinical experience with healthcare professionals in Ohio, including at the Wexner Medical Center, to prepare them for a nursing career. Program graduates will be eligible to take the State Board, National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nursing.

Applications for the aBSN are open now, with the first cohort starting this summer. 

Bowles is quoted as saying she expects the program will be in high demand.

“It’s something that’s really needed in the community right now. There is a shortage in nursing, and how can we at Ohio State respond to that need? That’s where we can help,” she said. “We know we can help the community through supporting more students becoming nurses and our practice partners are ready to provide great opportunities to grow these nurses to their highest potential. This is going to be a highly sought-after program, I’m sure.”

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