With several counties in Virginia experiencing a serious nursing shortage, there are many students going back to school to earn their Bachelor's degree in nursing. If you already have a Bachelor's degree in a non nursing field, you can likely apply many of your previous credits to your BSN, allowing you to finish your degree in anywhere from 12 to 18 months.
An accelerated BSN has many advantages over other nursing degrees. The Board of Nursing may close one school's two-year nursing program, sending many students in pursuit of a school that would accept them for a four-year nursing degree.
Below, you will find featured schools, which offer flexible online options for study, often with local clinical sites for practicum requirements and a full list of schools with ground based programs following. We encourage you to request information from all of the schools that offer programs you are interested in, so that you have enough information to choose the nursing school that can meet your individual needs.
As national priorities continue to reinforce the preference that nurses be educated at the bachelor's level, many schools are offering fast track BSN programs to meet the need for educated nurses nationwide. If you are thinking of entering a fast track BSN program in Virginia, we've taken the time to compile a list of available programs to aid in your search for schools.
Accelerated BSN Curriculum in Virginia
There are many schools that offer accelerated BSN programs in Virginia. In addition to schools with in-person classes, there are many online nursing programs that accept students from around the country. Most of the schools in Virginia require students to complete three or four semesters—fall, spring, summer, and another fall semester in some cases.
Each accelerated nursing program in Virginia has a very specific outline of courses and what order they need to be completed in. Students typically start out with lower-level nursing courses, like pharmacology, pathophysiology, and evidence based nursing practice. After completing beginning nursing classes, you can take higher-level nursing courses like mental health nursing, adult health nursing, nursing of children and adolescents, and nursing leadership.
After you have had sufficient classroom instruction in nursing rules, techniques, and skills, you and your cohort will begin your clinical rotations. Clinical practice involves translating the wide variety of nursing skills that you learned in the classroom into hands on nursing care, under the supervision of a clinical instructor. In addition to practicing what you learned in class, you will learn skills that arise from actual patient care situations. You will learn how to interact respectfully with patients, how to take directions from nurses, and how to perform nursing duties under pressure.
Many distance education and online fast track BSN programs have developed strategic alliances with healthcare facilities to enable students to complete clinical rotations in local settings. For more information, please obtain informational materials from the programs you are interested in.
Career outlook in Virginia
Choosing to work as a registered nurse in Virginia gives you the choice of working in one of Virginia's many high-quality health care companies. Some of the largest employers of nurses in Virginia include Pinnacle Senior Care, Brightstar-Fairfax County, BrightStar Care, Peak Health, and Gentiva Health Services.
When you start out as a nurse, you can generally expect to earn somewhere between $42,700 per year and $87,300 per year, as reported by O*Net, with the median salary for a registered nurse in Virginia noted as $62,600 per year. New graduates can look forward to being able to apply for a number of nursing jobs in Virginia, due to Virginia's expected 23% increase in nursing jobs through 2020 (O*Net, 2013).
Licensing Considerations in Virginia
The next step after finishing an accredited nursing program is taking the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam is given to all potential nursing license candidates in the country, and it tests your practical nursing knowledge. Once you pass the test, you can apply for a nursing license at the Virginia Board of Nursing.
Your school will have to send a copy of your diploma in addition to your official transcript. Until the renewal period of August 2015, nurses do not have to have any continuing competency requirements. As part of the Nursing Licensure Compact, nurses can use their Virginia license to work in other compact states.
After becoming a registered nurse in Virginia, you are free to join the Virginia Nurses Association. You can find local job listings, continuing education opportunities, and be part of a nursing leadership committee. In addition, the Virginia Nurses Association keeps members up to date on new government legislature that may affect how they practice.