How to Become an RN Fast: 7 Steps

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Follow these seven steps for how to become an RN fast. Research the nursing profession and ensure it's right for you. Then choose a nursing degree and program and complete any needed admissions requirements. After applying for nursing school, you'll need to complete your degree and pass the NCLEX.

Nurse wearing blue scrubs standing outside

If you’re considering becoming a nurse, you’ve probably wondered, what’s the fastest way to become a registered nurse? Especially if you’ve already invested in a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or a significant number of college credits, saving time is vital.

Thankfully, it’s possible to earn your nursing degree and start your career much quicker than the traditional four-year nursing school timeline. With the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Averett University, you can earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

We’ll show you the seven steps for how to become an RN fast. With the right plan in place, you can make your nursing goals become reality.

1. Research the Profession

The first thing you should do is learn all you can about what it’s like to be a nurse. For starters, you can talk to family or friends who have become nurses to learn about their experiences. Or if it’s feasible, you can take a volunteer or paid position as a nursing assistant or patient care tech to get a sense of what it’s like to work in a clinical environment.

Nursing is a demanding job, both physically and mentally. As a nurse, you’ll have a great deal of responsibility. And it’s important to understand the personal characteristics that the position requires. Are you compassionate, patient and a good communicator? Do you have a desire to care for others? If you answered “yes” to these questions, you’re off to a good start.

closeup view of laptops on desks

Benefits of Becoming a Nurse

Although nursing is challenging, some irrefutable perks come with the profession. First, nursing pays well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in May 2021, the annual mean wage for nurses in the U.S. was $77,600.

Another benefit of a career in nursing is job security. Due to the aging and associated health concerns of the baby boomer generation, the increase in chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity and the retirement of a growing number of nurses, there’s a shortage of registered nurses across the U.S. This means the field of nursing will continue to see steady growth. According to the BLS, registered nurse employment is projected to grow 6 percent from 2021 to 2031.

Male nurse in blue scrubs looking at clipboard

Want to learn more about the pros and cons of nursing? Use this list to help you decide if nursing is right for you.

2. Select the Nursing Program That’s Right for You

Once you’ve decided to pursue a degree in nursing, the next step for how to become an RN fast is to choose a program. Here are a few points to consider when choosing what’s right for you.


CCNE accreditation logo

Accreditation means that the program has been evaluated for quality and integrity. The two organizations responsible for accrediting nursing programs in the U.S. are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). It’s also important that the program you select has the approval of its state-specific board of nursing.

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Averett University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, (202) 887-6791. And the Averett ABSN program has approval of the Virginia Board of Nursing.

BSN Degree

While it’s possible to become a registered nurse with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a growing number of hospitals are only hiring nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. There are several reasons why a BSN is preferred, including:

  • A BSN program prepares nurses for leadership roles, complex patient care decisions, patient advocacy and cross-disciplinary collaboration.
  • Numerous studies have shown that hospitals with a greater percentage of BSN-educated nurses yield better patient outcomes — including lower readmission rates.
  • Many hospitals require or prefer that new nurses have a bachelor’s degree to be hired.

Accelerated Format

It’s important to note that if you’ve already earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field or you’ve accumulated at least 60 college credits, it’s not necessary to start a BSN program from the beginning. You have another option. Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) programs like the one at Averett University in Norfolk, Virginia, let you leverage your prior coursework to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

3. Complete Admissions Requirements

When planning how to become an RN fast, the next step after choosing a nursing program is to review the admissions requirements and prerequisites with an admissions counselor. This way you’ll see what you need to complete to be eligible.

ABSN student reading textbooks

The admissions requirements for Averett’s ABSN include:

  • A non-nursing bachelor’s degree OR at least 60 non-nursing credits from a regionally accredited higher education institution with at least a cumulative 2.8 GPA.
  • Completion of all prerequisites.
  • Pass the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam with a score of 65 percent or higher within one year of application.
  • Pass all math and science courses with a grade of “C-” or better.
  • No prior nursing program dismissals.
  • A certified criminal background check.

Together with your counselor you’ll create a plan for how you’ll complete any needed requirements or courses. Because we offer three start dates each year for the ABSN program at Averett University, eligible students will be able to begin nursing school soon after they finish their prerequisites.

4. Apply to Nursing School

Once you’re in your final semester of prerequisites, you’ll be able to submit your nursing school application. Make sure you submit the completed application plus any transcripts and supplemental documents by the application deadline provided by your admissions counselor. We use rolling admissions, so you’ll hear back about your admissions decision a few weeks after you turn in your application.

5. Complete Your Nursing Degree

Nursing school is not easy. No matter which program you choose, you should be prepared to devote your full attention to your studies. Many programs, including the ABSN program at Averett, recommend you avoid working while in nursing school.

ABSN student using stethoscope on sim manikin

A traditional BSN program typically takes four years to complete. However, the ABSN program at Averett is 16 months. Our curriculum employs a blended learning model, including online study, hands-on skills and simulation labs and in-person clinical placements. With this well-rounded curriculum, you’ll graduate with the knowledge and practical skills you need to sit for the NCLEX and start your career as a nurse.

Wondering what online learning is like in nursing school? Here are some benefits of online classes.

woman working on laptop

6. Pass the NCLEX-RN® and Get Licensed

Once you graduate from nursing school, you’ll be ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which you’ll need to pass to become a licensed registered nurse. The exam assesses your understanding of various nursing topics — from ethical issues to symptoms of disease.

The ABSN program will start preparing you for the NCLEX from the very beginning, but you’ll need to plan some extra study time leading up to the NCLEX. Students generally spend a few weeks after graduation studying full-time before they take the exam.

After you pass the NCLEX and finish any other requirements for your state board of nursing, you’ll be eligible to receive your registered nursing license, at which point you can start working as a nurse.

7. Start Your First Job

Once you complete your BSN degree and receive your RN license, you can begin your new career. After all the hard work invested into your education, you’ll reap the rewards of this exciting and meaningful career.

ABSN student standing outside by tree

Start Your Nursing Journey!

Now that you know the steps for how to become an RN fast, it’s time to start your journey of becoming a nurse. Averett’s ABSN program in Norfolk can fast-track your path to nursing through our innovative blend of online classes and in-person labs and clinical experiences.

To learn more about how to become a nurse through the Averett ABSN program, contact us today. We’re here to answer your questions and guide you through every step of the application and enrollment process.