Programs for Becoming a Registered Nurse

What are the Accredited RN Programs?

RN programs are the educational programs, which help the aspirants to gain registered nurse licensure for practicing and working in this field. The conventional choice, of course, in this area is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Generally, many nurses choose a BSN degree due to the high knowledge and practicality it offers in comparison to diploma courses and ADN (Associate’s Degree in Nursing).

The vital goal of an RN program is to train the students to give and clear the NCLEX-RN, the licensure assessment for registered nurses. This coursework not only helps in order to develop a better and educated workforce but also endow excellent learning. The registered nurse programs train the nurses for a superior level of practice and provide them with the skills and theoretical knowledge; with which, they can grow and develop in the nursing field.

Undergraduate Nursing Programs

1. Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year degree, which is meant for all those aspirants, who want to enter and work in the healthcare sector. The basic curriculum of ADN involves chemistry, nutrition, psychology, nursing, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and other sciences. Associate’s degree programs comprise of both the classroom and clinical aspects. It will begin with the fundamental evaluation and theory classes and move on to the classes that concentrate on detailed knowledge about the community, mental health, pediatric and adult nursing. This two-year option is beneficial for those students, who are not able to pursue the four-year course due to financial hindrance. Nonetheless, once a student holds the degree of ADN, he/she must clear the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Even after becoming an RN, they have the choice to obtain the RN to BSN degree either online or at a traditional college.

2. Diploma Course

A diploma in nursing is a 1-year nursing credential that enables you to make the entry in the field of nursing just after completion of the course. The hospital-based nursing schools generally award this diploma to the students. All those individuals, who hold a diploma in nursing can appear for the NCLEX-RN and apply for the license to become a registered nurse. A diploma is adequate in order to become an RN and it won’t become any impediment in the future. Many experienced RNs are only educated with diplomas. Students prefer diploma courses due to its less course fees, and they also take less time in comparison to other courses. But, if you want career advancement, then you will have to choose a better and professional degree. Diploma nursing programs, at present, give a concrete base in biology and social science aspects of nursing practice. Also, there is a focus on clinical experiences.

3. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year academic course in the science and principles of nursing. Anybody, who wants to enter the healthcare industry with advanced nursing skills, can opt for this coursework. This program provides both the clinical experience and theoretical knowledge and trains the nurses for a professional atmosphere with assignments in leadership, nursing informatics, nursing science and research. It also equips you with the basic knowledge of math, humanities, and social sciences. Emergency care, health assessment, issues and trends in nursing, public and global health are certain educational topics, significantly taught under this program.

4. Registered Nurse to Baccalaureate Program

The registered nurse to baccalaureate program is intended for students with at least an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Those nurses, who already have jobs and can’t travel long distances can go for this program particularly. This track offers unique and comprehensive theoretical and practical education besides an innovative approach. Considering the developments in healthcare surroundings, students are provided with valuable knowledge through communication, intervention, and leadership. Various aspects are demonstrated through healthcare technologies, information systems, and communication strategies. Family and community nursing, political awareness, fiscal responsibility, professional regulations, management and leadership in nursing, research, etc. are some of the major topics covered in this program.

5. LPN to RN Bridge Program

If you want to get transferred from a licensed practical nurse to a registered nurse, you can opt for the LPN to RN bridge program. Online courses are preferred when the individual is working in any medical institution. LPNs can get tuition reimbursement or financial assistance from their employers to pursue RN program if they are working with that employer for a long time. The course normally takes 2-3 years and covers subjects, like nutrition, psychology, behavioral sciences and liberal arts. LPN to RN programs permit students to go “fast track” which means that they don’t have to repeat any topic already learned at the time of LPN program. After completion of the program, they can work in private homes, nursing homes, schools, correctional facilities, large corporations, health care facilities for the disabled, and also as staff nurses.

6. Accelerated BSN Degree/ Accelerated Second Degree BSN Program

The accelerated BSN degree, also known as accelerated second degree BSN program, offers the fastest way to get certified as a registered nurse. It is beneficial to those candidates, who already have a degree in the field other than nursing. Fast-track baccalaureate coursework takes 11 to 18 months to complete. This degree enhances your career by improving your earning potential. Focusing on the healthcare environment and needs, the curriculum encompasses all the elements of the conventional BSN program.

7. Paramedic to RN Bridge Program

Those paramedics, who want to grow further in the hierarchy of nursing by expanding their knowledge, can choose paramedic to RN bridge program. This course completes in 18-24 months. The subjects include general microbiology, crisis care, psychology, pathophysiology, human anatomy and physiology, maternal-infant nursing, children and family nursing.

8. LVN to RN Bridge Program

If you are a Licensed Vocational Nurse and want to transit your career to an RN, you can select LVN to RN bridge program. In this program, students get to learn about mental health care, neonatal and obstetric nursing, pediatric and geriatric care, etc. The length of the coursework depends on the completion of the pre-required courses. The applicant should possess a current LVN license and at least nine months of working experience in an acute care facility. Integrated client care management, mental health nursing, concepts of nursing practice, etc. are some important topics cover in this program.

Graduate RN Programs

There are several graduate programs in nursing, which you can pursue only after completing your graduation. They are:

9. Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing (ELMSN)

ELMSN is a post-graduate degree for those non-nursing bachelor degree holders, who wish to accomplish new academic goals or change their career. In addition to fundamentals of the nursing, you also get to learn the advanced skills needed for leadership and management roles. You can choose any one of the two specialty paths- Family Nurse Practitioner or Case Management. Fundamentals of nursing skills, basic concepts of pharmacology & pathophysiology, and transition to professional roles of nursing are some of the topics that you can expect to study during the program. It allows the student to acquire credentials that are necessary to work and practice. Once the Entry Level Master’s Degree Program is completed, the student is entitled to sit for the national certification examination.

After completing all the formalities and passing the exam, the candidate can apply for certification and state licensure. You can take up the position of a nurse administrator, health policy expert or clinical nurse manager after obtaining the certificate.

10. RN to Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Program

This course will enable you to offer the best quality medical care to the patients. By receiving master’s degree, you will broaden your avenues for work and practice. This coursework opens door to various high positions, such as nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist, nurse leader, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. It usually completes in two to three years of time. The course comprises of practical knowledge along with the clinical hands-on program. This degree program allows you to opt between specialized and advanced courses too. Furthermore, this curriculum will provide information about leadership, management, health care policies, health care ethics, etc.

Post-Graduate Nursing Program

11. Doctor of Nursing Practices

DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) is a professional degree that concentrates on the clinical features. The DNP degree includes topics like the treatment of diseases, advanced practice and diagnosis. A registered nurse is trained to become an autonomous care provider to the patients. The main aim of this program is to improve patient outcomes and nursing practice by providing enhanced knowledge. It inculcates advanced competencies among aspirants to take up leadership, faculty and clinical roles. Students holding a master’s entry-level nursing degree or BSN can complete DNP coursework in 3 years of full-time study. Nurses possessing MSN from a recognized institute can obtain DNP degree in 3 semesters of full-time study.


With this in mind, whatever RN degree programs you choose, make sure they are from accredited RN schools. In particular, the accredited ones do not accept the students who have completed their previous nursing education from a non-accredited school.  The main accreditation bodies that approve these programs are – ACEN (The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing) and CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education).  While CCNE accredits only bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, ACEN authorizes all the ambit of nursing programs (diploma, associate’s, bachelor’s & master’s).

The schools that have achieved accreditation follow a nationally approved education pattern. Being a part of an accredited RN school will also open the gates for scholarships and other financial aids for you. Not only the alumnus of an accredited school will be allowed at another accredited school for further nursing education easily, it will also amplify your resume. But, these accreditation are allotted to the nursing schools for a specific time of period, generally from 5-10 years. Therefore, confirm the exact time till a nursing school is accredited for prior to enrolling in a nursing program with them.

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