Are Nursing Bridge Programs Worth It?
Nursing bridge programs and accelerated nursing programs expedite nursing education for people who have already entered the workforce. Many nursing schools provide these options along with their traditional programs. Accelerated programs bridge the gap between your current education level to one higher on the nursing ladder. They’re convenient options for professionals who wish to advance their careers but are unable to dedicate four years of full-time study.
Bridge programs for nursing and accelerated programs are similar, but not identical. Anyone can enroll in an accelerated nursing program if they already have a bachelor’s degree in any subject and complete the prerequisites. These students may have prior work experience, or they could start right after college graduation.
Bridge programs, on the other hand, target people who already have healthcare experience and are often already working as LPNs, CNAs, or paramedics.
Why Enroll in a Nursing Bridge Program or Accelerated Nursing Program?
Bridge program students already working in healthcare often want a wider scope of practice. A CNA may wish to become an LPN or go straight for his/her BSN. LPNs may want to acquire their BSN. RNs with bachelor’s degrees are licensed to work in a wider variety of settings than LPNs and other positions requiring less education. Nurses with their BSN also have more opportunities for educational advancement through certifications in different specialties and obtaining their master’s or doctorate degrees.
For accelerated BSN students, this is their entry into healthcare. They may wish to change their career path altogether by becoming a nurse. Whether they began in the sciences or not makes no difference. For those who already have a BSN, these programs could result in obtaining an MSN, or doctorate for those who have their master’s. Some programs transition straight to master’s or doctorates.
Last, but far from least, the stark wage increase is attractive. In some facilities, BSNs might get paid significantly higher than LPNs for doing the same job. Paramedics and CNAs make less than LPNs, so obtaining an LPN or BSN can raise their income significantly. For accelerated BSN students, nursing provides higher wages than many professions. Nurses with their master’s degree can get paid six figures.
How Much Do These Programs Cost, and Are They Worthwhile?
The question of worth is unique to your situation. For the first few years after your graduation, a pay raise could be dampened by your student loan costs without scholarships or other avenues of financial support.
Traditional nursing schools are the most expensive option, while nursing bridge programs tend to be the most affordable. Considering the condensed time frame, accelerated nursing programs cost less than traditional programs, but are usually more expensive than bridge programs. Online options are less expensive than in-person schooling, regardless of the route you choose.
The prior work history of bridge program students and accelerated students adds a layer of experience nurses fresh out of a four-year program don’t possess. That training can make these nurses more valuable and competitive in the job market.
Pros and Cons of Nursing Bridge Programs
- Cost-Efficient: Bridge programs are far more affordable than the cost of traditional nursing programs, regardless of pace or whether they’re completed online or in person. Full-time accelerated BSN programs also save money because they last an average of 11 to 18 months. The more degrees obtained, the longer the program, but these options are still less expensive than that of a traditional nursing program when considering the condensed BSN time frame.
- Flexible Schedules: Some bridge programs are self-paced, and there are often more options for class dates and times. Many bridge programs for nursing allow students to choose healthcare facilities for their clinical rotations. Accelerated programs don’t offer self-paced options, but they offer more start dates than traditional programs.
- Wide Variety: There’s a bridge program for a vast array of experience and education levels. Paramedic-to-nurse or CNA-to-nurse bridge programs and BSN-to-MSN programs are common examples. Students don’t need to fulfill experience requirements to complete accelerated nursing programs if they have a bachelor’s degree and have the prerequisites.
- Fast Paced: For accelerated nursing programs and some nursing bridge programs, you must be a quick learner and know how to cope with the anxiety attached to processing a lot of information in a small amount of time.
- Extra Responsibility: Self-paced bridge programs are helpful as long as you’re disciplined. It’s all up to you to ensure you follow through with your goals.
- Missed Opportunities: Bridge program nursing students might miss potential connections that aren’t present in the facilities they choose. They also might miss the chance of learning about employers that are best avoided during future job searches.
When You’re Finished With Your Nursing Bridge Program, Check Us Out
There’s a fast track to your nursing goals that fits you and your lifestyle. Support your career path by choosing a job that accommodates your schedule. Join the future of nursing and apply to IntelyCare today.