Which Nursing Programs Take Less Than 2 Years?

student nurses running to become a nurse fast
Reviewed by
Miranda Kay, RN
April 30, 2024

Are you considering becoming a nurse and still don’t know which path to follow to accomplish this goal? Keep reading to clarify several questions you may have, like which paths there are to become a nurse and which programs are the shortest. 

Being a nurse is a major responsibility but also a gratifying profession.

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Additionally, it is a profession that offers impressive job growth and competitive salaries. The growth projections for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are 6 and 5 percent, respectively, faster than the national average for all occupations. In addition, the mean annual wage for RNs is $89.010, and for LPNs it is $55.860.

Are you sold on nursing? There are plenty of options to obtain your nursing license. This article covers the fastest ways to become a nurse, including nursing programs lasting 2 years or less. 

How to Become a Nurse

There are various ways to become a nurse. The path you choose depends on your needs, interests, and goals. 

Many questions may come to mind now: How long does it take to become a nurse? What kind of nursing licenses are there? Which is the best program for meeting my goals? Let’s begin with the first.

How Long Does It Take to Become an RN?

As mentioned, entering the nursing field has various pathways, and depending on your interests and goals, you can choose the one that suits you best. Depending on your previous education and experience, becoming an RN in as little as one year is possible. Keep reading to discover the fastest ways to become a nurse.

Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse

If finishing nursing school fast is one of your priorities, you can enter the field through a practical nursing program to become an LPN, known as a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) in Texas and California. An LPN or LVN program typically lasts one year.

An LVN has certain restrictions compared to an RN since registered nurses must complete more extensive programs that qualify them for greater patient responsibilities. However, both are essential players in the healthcare system, and you may find that being an LPN is what you are looking for. Regardless of the program or type of licensure you choose, the doors are always open to continue your studies if you decide to pursue a higher degree in nursing.  

In addition, you must know the state regulations where you choose to work since different restrictions for LPNs/LVNs may apply. 

From 2020 to 2030, the projection for LPN job openings in the country will be 54,400 annually.

LPN-to-RN Nursing Programs

You can become an RN through an LPN-to-RN bridge program if you are already an LPN. Colleges and other educational institutions tailor these bridge programs to give LPNs the knowledge they need to practice as RNs. LPN-to-RN programs combine theoretical and practical classes and are typically about one year long.

Associate Degree in Nursing

An associate degree is a common way to achieve your goal of becoming an RN. Depending on your state and the specific school you decide to attend, an associate degree may be called an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), or an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS). However, there are some differences among the three degrees.

ASN vs. ADN vs. AAS: What’s the Difference?

These three associate degrees can open the door to practicing as an RN. Furthermore, they all last around two years. However, these nursing programs have certain differences that may make one option better depending on your preferences and needs. 

The following list explains the differences among associate programs:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing: An ADN nursing program is a fast way to earn your registered nurse degree. This program lasts about two years and is popular among RN candidates. Some nursing schools may offer an accelerated version that you can complete in less than two years. Accelerated programs are often hybrids with online and on-campus classes. Community colleges typically provide this type of program. It generally focuses on clinical aspects of nursing rather than leadership or research.
  • Associate of Science in Nursing: An ASN focuses more on clinical hours than classroom lectures. Therefore, students have more time in labs and clinical settings than in classrooms compared to ADN or AAS students. Hospitals and vocational schools usually offer this type of program.
  • Associate of Applied Science in Nursing: An AAS has a similar program to the other two degrees. Nevertheless, the AAS allows students to choose specialty areas and trains students in different subjects depending on their specialization. Vocational schools and hospitals typically offer this degree.

There are aspects you should consider before choosing an ADN, ASN, or AAS, depending on your plans for the future. For example, an ADN will offer a smoother transition to a bachelor’s degree if you want to continue your studies. On the other hand, if you are a hands-on person who learns more in practical classes, you can choose an ASN.   

Whether you choose an ADN, an ASN, or an AAS, you must ensure that your state’s Board of Nursing, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education approves the program of your choice.

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

If you hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and don’t know how to become an RN, choosing an ABSN can be your fastest way to enter nursing.

The length of these programs varies from one to two years. Before you apply to one of these programs, you must complete several prerequisite courses.

Direct-Entry Master’s in Nursing Program

If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, this program can help you become a registered nurse in approximately two years.

How Can I Find RN Classes near Me?

Before you type “RN programs near me” in your browser, read about these Top 10 Best Nursing Schools in the US. You may decide to move to another city or state for your ideal school.

How Can I Find Nursing Jobs near Me?

After you complete one of these 1-to-2-year nursing programs and earn your license, you’ll be ready to start the job search. Most nurses seek full-time employment, but PRN nursing is an increasingly popular option.

The advantage of PRN or per diem jobs is that the contract is by the shift, meaning that you don’t need to work in a facility again if you don’t have a positive experience. On the other hand, if you find a good fit, a PRN job could open the door to a full-time position.

Nursa is an open market connecting nurses with per diem jobs in different facilities. Download the app, create a profile, upload your license for verification, and request the per diem job or jobs that suit you best.

Sources:

Blog published on:
April 30, 2024

Meet Guillermo, a contributing copywriter for Nursa who specializes in writing nursing content about finances, licensing, technology, and staffing solutions.

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