Meet Meghan. Meghan knew she wanted a future in healthcare. She wanted a career in which she could help people, but the time it would take to complete her nursing degree, the technical skills she would need to succeed in her courses, and the inherent pressures of caring for her future patients all seemed intimidating. She knew she needed to find a school that could teach her both the skills and knowledge she would need to be a successful healthcare provider.
Mercy College of Health Sciences’ Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program seemed to be the answer. The accelerated 12-month format ensured Meghan could still start her career within the year, and the College’s small class sizes reassured Meghan that she would have the individualized attention she would need to succeed in her classes and hone her skills as a nurse.
Nursing school can be an intimidating goal for many students. While there are many individuals who want to learn how to care for patients, the time it takes to complete a nursing degree and the complex skills involved can often seem intimidating. At Mercy College of Health Sciences, earning your nursing degree has never been more attainable. The accelerated, 12-month program boasts year-round start dates, state-of-the-art simulation labs, and top-notch clinical rotations, all of which allowed Meghan to Chart Her Course and take the first steps toward her rewarding nursing career.
In 2016, Meghan was just finishing her freshman year of college at a large state university. It was there that she discovered her passion for healthcare. Unsure what direction to take, she visited Mercy College of Health Sciences. After touring the campus and seeing the nursing simulation labs, Meghan knew her future would be in nursing.
“I visited Mercy College with my family at the end of my freshman year and right away I knew I wanted to go into nursing,” Meghan said. “I’ve always had a passion for helping others. I want to be with people on their hardest days and their most exciting days. When I visited Mercy College, I knew that nursing was the career I’d been searching for.”
With one year of coursework already completed, Meghan decided to finish her degree at the state school she was attending. When she graduated, she applied to Mercy College’s Accelerated BSN program. The accelerated format, while rigorous, allows students who discover their passion later in their educational or professional journeys the opportunity to pursue their nursing degrees without having to reset their career timelines or restart their college courses.
“One thing that stood out to me about Mercy College’s Accelerated BSN is that it’s a 12-month program completely focused on developing your nursing skills,” Meghan explained. “I was able to devote all my time to understanding those nursing basics — from taking vitals to putting in an IV — with professors who worked with me one-on-one to ensure my success.”
Mercy College launched the Accelerated BSN program in the fall of 2018. Since then, the program has continued to grow. The quick completion time, year-round start dates, and generous transfer credit acceptance make it an appealing option to students across the country.
“There are so many compassionate, intelligent individuals who — due to personal or professional reasons — came to their career later in life,” stated Mercy College Dean of Nursing Kristen Wessel, PhD, MSN. “The Accelerated BSN allows them the chance to pursue their nursing degree without sacrificing more time. We have students from across the United States who come to our program and find their passion in our simulation labs and clinical rotations. That’s why we’re here: to help our students help their patients.”
The Accelerated BSN is designed to be completed over the course of one year. At the end of the program, students are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to earn their license before they enter the workforce. Because of the intensive curriculum, Mercy College’s Accelerated BSN program is nearly entirely devoted to nursing courses to equip students with the skills and knowledge they need to graduate and move on to successful careers.
Applicants to the program must already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major or have at least 68 hours of academic credit and satisfy the pre-requisite courses for the program. This, in turn, allows students to focus solely on their nursing coursework, mastering their skills in the College’s on-campus simulation labs.
“The simulation labs on campus are an integral part of the nursing programs,” Wessel stated. “They allow students a safe environment in which to practice the technical skills they’ll need without the stress of being with patients in a hospital setting right away.”
As part of the nursing curriculum, students practice critical skills such as taking vitals, inserting IVs, and changing dressings using manikins and their fellow classmates as models. Professional nursing faculty use high-fidelity manikins to interact with students, mimicking real-life patient scenarios that allow students the chance to think on their feet and hone their skills and responses until they become instinctual. For Meghan, the simulation labs on Mercy College’s campus were pivotal in helping her to feel confident in her abilities to care for her future patients.
“The profession of nursing as a whole is a very hands-on field. You’re moving all the time,” Meghan explained. “The simulation labs on campus were such a valuable hands-on experience and really helped improve my confidence in my skills. The teacher would sit down and explain every tool and procedure and then we would practice it over and over again until the movements became muscle memory. Now, I can use those same skills every day in my career.”
Mercy College has a vast network of over 150 clinical partnerships with local hospitals and clinics. Through these partnerships, students are exposed to different medical specialties and professional healthcare environments through their clinical rotations. For many students, it is during these clinical rotations with current practitioners that they discover their ultimate passion and identify the specific field of healthcare they want to pursue. Putting their skills into practice and making those professional connections becomes pivotal in determining where they will focus their career when they graduate from the program at the end of the year.
Because the Accelerated BSN program is comprised almost exclusively of nursing content, students are able to begin their clinical rotations early in their coursework, utilizing the skills they learned in the simulation labs while working with real patients on a hospital floor. By the time they graduate, students will have worked alongside healthcare professionals for nearly a full year in a hospital or clinic setting, caring for patients of their own with the supervision of their clinical faculty.
“When you come into nursing, there are so many pathways you can take,” Meghan explained. “Being able to see a variety of floors and units during clinical rotations helped narrow down what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do. It was during my clinical rotation in the maternity unit that I decided that was definitely the career path for me.”
After graduating, Meghan took her NCLEX-RN and became a registered nurse. She now works as a labor and delivery nurse, using the skills she learned during the Accelerated BSN program at Mercy College to support her patients through childbirth. In just one year, Meghan earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and began the career of her dreams.
“I love my job,” she said. “I definitely found my passion at Mercy College. If you’re thinking about nursing, think Mercy College. The accelerated option opens doors for people, whether it’s later in life or right out of undergraduate. They can come here and still have the opportunity to become a nurse like me.”