1M Nursing Jobs Opening: How to Become a Nurse -- and FAST!

New or old to the job market, you probably thought a college degree and a little elbow grease would land a job, if not the perfect one.

That's what happened to Kyle Holmes. The Ohio State graduate pursued nutrition with hopes of becoming a registered dietitian. But when he couldn't get a job after graduation last December, even as a diet aide, he looked to other opportunities. Now he's pursuing his nursing degree in an accelerated 12-month program at an East Coast university.

"I'm tired of being broke all of the time," says Holmes. "The cost of tuition wasn't necessarily all that different, but if you factor in time in the work force, there was a huge difference."

A degree, only faster

Typically, nursing programs are four years, like many bachelors degrees. But several schools started intensive study programs to get students in, trained, and out into the work force with degrees in a fraction of the time. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2012, a million more registered nurses will be needed in the United States. Since these are graduate programs, most students have to bear the cost of tuition without scholarships. But even one year of nursing-school tuition is still less than many graduate schools require.

Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., has been offering accelerated nursing degrees for 30 years in one of the oldest programs in the country. More than 50 percent of students come from outside Omaha and 25 percent are men. Most are career changers, ranging from those with science backgrounds to forest rangers. Assistant Dean Joyce Bunger says that despite being in school for a shorter period, students are just as well prepared as those who pursue a four-year degree.

"Employers clamor for accelerated students," Bunger says. "They are mature, focused and ready to hit the ground running. Their pass rates on the NCLEX (the national licensing exam for nurses) are exceptional."

In 2010, Southern Connecticut State University graduated its third Accelerated Career Entry Program class and Drexel University in Pennsylvania, its eighth. The University of Delaware offers a 17-month concentrated program, and at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, the program is 15 months.

Programs' highlights
  1. Your undergraduate degree can be in anything. However, you do need certain prerequisites which include introductory biology and chemistry.
  2. The programs are typically small and can be competitive. In 2009, at SCSU, for example, 80 applications were received and 22 were offered admission, with an average college GPA of 3.31.
  3. Because the programs are concentrated, so is the cost. At SCSU, tuition for 2009-2010 was approximately $15,000. The U-Mass program costs $25,000 for Massachusetts residents.
  4. Plan on giving up your day job. These are not part-time pursuits, and many schools require students to make a full-time commitment.

Holmes is hoping to return to Ohio when he graduates. But with little tying him down, he'll go where the jobs are, taking his student loans, his bed, clothes and a chair from his mom along. Ideally, he'll find work in an emergency room.

"An ER nurse is constantly tested: every age group, every illness state, and an incredibly diverse range of problems," Holmes says. "No two days are alike, and you always have to be on point. I feel like I can excel in a setting like this because I love to be pushed to the limit. That's where you find out the most about yourself, when you're on the ropes."

Next:Male Nurses Are Still Few and Far Between

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