The Fastest Way to Become a Nurse

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Written by Kathleen Walder Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Reviewed by Ayana Dunn, BSN Content Writer, IntelyCare
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Are you interested in positively impacting lives on a daily basis? If you’ve thought about becoming a nurse but feel like you’re too late to start now, don’t worry. There are many career paths to explore. The fastest way to become a nurse can take as little as six months.

Now is a good time to start out. There are nearly 3.2 million nurses working in the U.S., and about 1 million are considering retirement in the next 5 to 10 years. Hospitals, clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and other healthcare organizations have already faced a nursing shortage for several years.

3 Choices for the Fastest Way to Become a Nurse

When considering becoming a nurse, you’ll find you can take classes and graduate from nursing schools in many ways. Looking at college and university information can make your head spin with all the choices.

We sorted through the information on nursing programs available to you and narrowed it down to two types of nurses and three education choices that depend on your available time and personal preference.

1. Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse Diploma (LPN/LVN)

To start, let’s clarify the terminology. California and Texas licensing authorities use the term LVN, while the rest of the U.S. uses LPN. There is no difference in the job structure or duties for LPNs vs. LVNs. For convenience, we’ll just use the term LPN.

LPNs earn their diploma through completing courses at a community college or vocational school, through in-person or online programs. The typical LPN program takes 12 to 18 months, which is equal to three semesters, or 40 credit hours. You can find combination online/in-person fast-track LPN programs that you can complete in six to nine months. Some programs require you to be a military veteran, EMT, or certified nursing assistant (CNA).

LPNs work in hospitals and clinics under the direction of registered nurses, but the bulk of LPN jobs are at nursing and residential care facilities. You’ll work with patients to record their vitals, change wound dressings, give non-IV medications, and assist with bathing and feeding.

Once you’ve started working as an LPN, you can enroll in an LPN to RN bridge program as one of the fastest ways to become a registered nurse using your knowledge and experience.

The median annual salary for a LPN is $48,070.

2. Associate Degree in Nursing

The fastest way to become a nurse with an RN license is to get an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Your ADN diploma qualifies you to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) for registered nurses.

ADN programs are available at universities, colleges, vocational and community colleges and typically take two years to complete. You can take classes in-person or online, with your required clinical hours at a nearby hospital or clinic. Registered nurses with ADN degrees perform all the duties of a registered nurse but are limited in opportunities for career growth. Some good workplaces for ADN-RNs are community hospitals and long-term care facilities.

You can find accelerated programs online and on-campus that last as little as 16 months. Enrolling in an ADN to BSN bridge program can further your education and employment opportunities.

The median salary for an RN is $77,600.

3. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to switch careers to nursing, the fastest way to become a nurse is to complete an accelerated bachelor’s degree in nursing program (BSN). Any accredited four-year undergraduate degree qualifies you for an ABSN program. This accelerated curriculum takes anywhere from 11 months to two years, depending on the school, clinical requirements, and availability.

The Smart Way to Move Up in Nursing

Once you’ve started your nursing career, gain experience in your preferred settings with IntelyCare. The fastest way to become a nurse with the best schedule is to start your application today.