A closer look at 12-month nursing programs
It can seem challenging to complete a nursing degree in 12 months. Learn how to prepare for success in an accelerated nursing program like Creighton's.
If you have your sights set on a career change to nursing, you’re probably not looking to waste any time. For those who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in any field, an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can be completed in just one year.
While 12-month nursing programs sound like an enticing option, it begs the question: Can you really train to become a practicing nurse that quickly?
If you’re a motivated and hard-working student who enrolls in a reputable program, the answer is yes! Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from accelerated nursing programs.
Can you become a nurse in one year?
Many prospective ABSN students wonder about the demands of gaining all of the necessary knowledge in a 12-month nursing program. The truth is that it’s not for everyone, but if you’re up for the challenge then it’s an ideal option.
“You better be ready to go,” warns Creighton University ABSN faculty chair Heather “Hez” Naylor, BSN, MSN, FNP. “You’re not going to know it all, but you’ll learn it quickly.”
Because of the high demands and accelerated pace of the program, Creighton’s admissions committee is careful to evaluate candidates to ensure they are well-equipped to succeed in a 12-month nursing program. Creighton has a well-established track record of educating nurses in this accelerated format for over four decades.
“You just need to trust yourself and trust the program,” Naylor says.Because of the succinct program length, it’s imperative that students are able to focus fully on their training. Creighton ABSN students are advised to be fully committed to the program for the 12 months – it’s not recommended to maintain a job while enrolled. If you can devote your time and attention to the curriculum and give it all you have, you can be launching your career as a licensed nurse in just one year.
What to expect in an ABSN program
If you’re considering 12-month nursing programs, you’re probably curious about what this accelerated format would look like. Creighton University’s ABSN program is broken out into five eight-week terms, followed by two shorter intensives.
“The year looks daunting from the beginning but moves so quickly that you don’t even realize how much you’re learning,” says Mikah Schmall, BSN’22.
During the first eight-week term, students have class Monday through Friday. This consists mostly of science courses and getting to know peers and professors. Class times vary but are typically between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. After that first eight weeks, clinical rotations begin.
For terms two through four, classes take place on two days and clinical rotations for three days each week. Clinical rotations are typically eight to 12-hour shifts – primarily day shifts but occasionally they’ll expand into the early evening. Saturday rotations are also a possibility, but you’ll have time off during the week if you do.
“During clinical rotations, you’re not only learning how to take care of the patient, but you’re also considering, ‘Do I want to work here? What am I noticing about this place where I could see this as an employment opportunity?’” Naylor explains. “It adds some richness to your clinical experience as a way to test drive a potential work setting.”
After the first five terms comes two sessions of online intensives classes – one lasting three weeks and one lasting two weeks. You’ll also begin your final preceptorship, in which you’ll be paired up one-on-one with a practicing nurse in a healthcare setting. You will learn from that one nurse and by the time the rotation is complete, you should be doing about 80 percent of the nurse’s job.
“The nursing curriculum is like a pyramid because each term builds upon the previous ones,” explains Katie Bechman, RN, BSN’21. “Preceptorship at Creighton helps tie everything together and sets you up to pass the NCLEX.” And the proof is in the numbers, with Creighton ABSN pass rates consistently exceeding the national average.
Throughout the entire 12-month nursing program, Creighton ABSN students are trained to “think like a nurse” while sharpening the clinical skills that make a safe, effective and confident professional, according to assistant dean for the College of Nursing Julie Manz, PhD, RN, CNE. “After completing the program, you’ll be a Creighton nurse – sought by employers and positioned perfectly for an ever-changing healthcare environment,” Manz adds.
Creighton’s accelerated nursing program has built a reputation for producing high-quality nurses who are ready to make an impact.
Tips for finding success in a 12-month nursing program
Now that you understand how the program is structured, it’s clear that Creighton ABSN students are in for an intense year of training. But if you’re up for the challenge, it’ll be worth it in the end. Consider the following advice:
1. Enlist support from your family and friends
The training and curriculum included in a 12-month nursing program will be demanding, so you’ll likely have to make sacrifices in other areas of your life. This might mean having less time for socializing and entertainment.
Be sure to inform your family and friends about your educational endeavor and how they might be able to provide support along the way. If you’re transparent upfront about your priorities shifting for the next year, feelings won’t be hurt and you can avoid some added stress in your relationships.
2. Make a financial plan
Naylor reiterates the importance of focusing on your studies as an ABSN student and not trying to juggle a job simultaneously. This means foregoing a steady paycheck while you go all in on your nursing training.
“Giving up the year of work can seem stressful, especially for people who really rely on the income,” Naylor says. “If you can get yourself in a good financial position before you go in, you’ll feel much less stressed when you’re here.”
Take some time to research different funding options that could relieve some of the financial burden. Check out our article for more info: “How to Pay for Grad School: 6 Things to Consider.”
3. Be organized and proactive
A little bit of planning can go a long way for a busy nursing student. Setting aside designated time in your schedule for uninterrupted studying is a wise decision. Think about other ways you can streamline things to become more efficient with your time.
For example, spending some time on the weekend to plan meals for the week ahead can help avoid the stress of having to come up with something each day. Be sure to build in time for self-care also. Being active, eating healthy and getting ample sleep are important habits to build as a nursing student and carry with you into your professional career.
4. Lean on your fellow students
The accelerated format of the ABSN means you’ll be spending a large portion of your week alongside your classmates. You’ll build a strong bond as you overcome the challenges of the program together. Reach out to your peers to form study groups, provide emotional support and build lifelong relationships in the field.
Naylor explains that because of the smaller class sizes and greater faculty involvement, Creighton students feel engaged, supported and connected. “You won’t find that at a larger school where you’re just a number. You’ll find a lot of support here, and you’re in it with your classmates. You’re all going through the same experience,” she adds.
5. Take advantage of support resources
Creighton University is committed to providing the support students need to succeed. As an ABSN student, you’ll have access to tutoring, academic coaching, mentoring, career services, accessibility accommodations, and more. But these services won’t help you unless you use them.
Don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help when you need it. 12-month nursing programs move at a fast pace, so the longer you wait the further behind you’ll fall.
Launch your nursing career in a year
If you’re ready to hit the ground running and begin your journey towards a rewarding nursing career, why wait? You could be earning your license to practice in just one year. But not all 12-month nursing programs are created equal.
Creighton University has been educating nurses through an accelerated curriculum for more than 40 years. Join the ranks of our accomplished alumni – learn more about our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.