According to expert commentary in the North Carolina Medical Journal (NCMJ), nursing is the largest component of the state's healthcare workforce, and "nursing jobs are an essential driver of the state's economy". As a non-nursing degree holder, you may now be transitioning into this job sector for many different reasons. Whether you are looking for more meaningful work, a better salary, or job security, you will likely find all of these if you become a Registered Nurse.
The state of North Carolina has several universities and colleges that offer fast track programs for earning your Bachelor's Degree in Nursing. The first step in finding the best program for you, is to request information from the schools in our listing that are of interest to you. We have provided a featured schools section, below, which includes schools that offer online and distance education options for program completion.The online programs offer a good deal of flexibility if you plan to work while in school, or if you have significant family or personal responsibilities to balance with your nursing education.
Overview of the Accelerated BSN Programs in North Carolina
Accelerated Bachelor's of Science in Nursing programs in North Carolina are the quickest way to attain licensure as an RN. Most BSN programs take approximately 10 to 15 months to complete. As you will be earning your BSN as a second degree, you likely already have much of the general college course requirements met. Previous undergraduate credits for course such as social sciences, math and English can be applied to your nursing degree. The courses in a second degree BSN are all focused on the skills, tools and knowledge needed to enter the nursing field, while building upon your previous career and education expereince. Enrolling in a second degree accelerated nursing program is an ideal way to transition into a nursing career.
Candidates for an accelerated BSN program must have a four-year degree from an accredited university and have the required prerequisite courses completed. Typical prerequisites includes microbiology, biology and chemistry. For those lacking the required prerequisites, schools often offer the prerequisites prior to commencement of the BSN program, or they can sometimes be taken alongside your nursing classes.
The second degree BSN program typically includes three semesters of full-time study. Students are also required to complete practicums, or clinicals, in healthcare settings to apply theoretical nursing knowledge to real-world situations. On average, practicums consist of 100 hours of supervised work in medical clinics, hospitals or other healthcare settings. If you are interested in an online second degree BSN program, you may be wondering if a practicum will still be required, and how you would complete it. The schools offering distance education do still require a clinical component, and they have designed new and novel means to complete it into their curricula.
Many of the online schools have developed partnerships with healthcare organizations that allow you to complete clinical practicums in your own area. According to the Duke University School of Nursing, many of today's accelerated BSN programs also focus on clinical and healthcare technology experiences using case studies and simulations. In addition, students are privy to state-of-the-art laboratories to be prepared for 21st century healthcare. Patient simulators are often used in conjunction with traditional on-site aspects of a program, and are becoming more popular as online and distance education programs continue to grow.
Simulated patient care is a relatively new, yet already popular method of allowing nursing students to gain valuable clinical skills, especially when clinical sites may be sparse. It is also a safe way to train competent nurses, without putting patients at risk. An evidence based handbook for nursing has a chapter entitled "Enhancing Patient Safety in Nursing Education Through Patient Simulation" written by two University of North Carolina nursing instructors, which outlines the role simulator based clinical experiences play in patient safety and nursing education. For a detailed example of what a simulator based clinical experience is like, you can read the here (NCBI, 2013).
Accelerated BSN Program Curriculum in North Carolina
Common courses in an accelerated BSN program include:
- Pharmacology I and II
- Principles, Theories and Practice of Nursing
- Advanced Chemistry
- Legal Issues in Nursing
- Community Health Issues
- Nursing Leadership and Professional Development
Upon completing the accelerated BSN program, all aspiring nurses in North Carolina must pass the NCLEX exam for state licensure. It’s an in-depth and comprehensive exam, and most colleges and universities offer excellent workshops and classes for preparation. After completing the program and passing the NCLEX, you can become licensed as a Registered Nurse in North Carolina.
Career Outlook, Job Opportunities and Salary
The career outlook for nurses is quite encouraging in North Carolina. There have been considerable efforts made on the part of many organizations in the state, to plan for, and create, a nursing workforce that can continue to meet the needs of state residents. Erin Fraher and Cheryl Jones proposed five recommendations for implementation that could result in system-wide nursing workforce success.
The authors noted, in their 2011 commentary in The North Carolina Journal of Medicine, that the state is well situated to make future plans for the nursing workforce, as they already have longitudinal data sets in place, as well as collaborative arrangements among key stakeholders in the state (NCJM, Vol 72, no. 4, p.320). The article outlines that funding, research, infrastructure, inter-professional collaboration and planning will be keys to success for the nursing workforce and the state's residents as time goes on. All of this means that North Carolina is poised to remain at the forefront of planning for and solving issues involving multiple aspects of the nursing workforce.
North Carolina's nurses enjoy a median annual income of $58,000 (O*net, 2013) and enjoy many initiatives supporting workforce advocacy by way of the North Carolina Nurses Association. Nurses in the state are able to secure positions as travel nurses, in hospitals, assisted living facilities, private physician offices, medical clinics and home healthcare. As you continue to learn about accelerated BSN programs in your state, keep in mind that you will be able to enjoy all the rewards nursing has to offer after completion, and you can do so in a state that supports its nurses and advocates for the profession's needs.