Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs: Can You Really Enroll In a NP Program Without an RN Degree?

The typical path to becoming a nurse practitioner requires that students complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN) followed by a Master’s Degree in Nursing (MSN).  For those of us who did not know we wanted to become NP’s and did not complete an undergraduate degree in nursing or who are making a career change to complete a MSN degree, technically we should have to return to school to first obtain our BSN.  But is there a faster way to become a nurse practitioner?

If you are like I was and are looking for a quick route to becoming an NP, a ‘bridge’ program or ‘accelerated’ program might be right for you.  So what exactly do these programs require?

Nurse Practitioner Bridge Programs (Bachelor’s Degree in Non-Nursing Field to MSN Pathway)

Some schools may title these programs differently, however the concept is the same.  Many colleges and universities offer NP programs for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing that want to become nurse practitioners.  These schools offer an education path that allows you to first complete an RN degree, usually in three semesters, followed by your MSN, usually an additional three semesters.  Ultimately, this allows students with a degree in a field other than nursing to complete a nurse practitioner program in just two years full-time.  If classes are not offered in the summer or if you choose to complete this program on a part-time basis, it may take longer than two years.

Things to consider with bridge programs?  Often, the educational options with these programs are restricted.  Schools offering these programs may not allow for part-time study or may not allow courses to be completed online.

Be sure to research your prospective program thoroughly.  Also, the universities that offer bridge programs are often more expensive.  This may be offset by the fact that you will graduate and start earning an income more quickly but you should do some quick calculations to make sure the additional cost over other programs in your area will be worth it.  Finally, bridge programs have required prerequisite courses that must be completed before enrolling.  Make sure you have a plan for completing required prerequisite coursework.

Nurse Practitioner Accelerated Programs (RN to MSN Pathway)

Also referred to by a wide range of titles, accelerated nurse practitioner education pathways allow nurses with an RN degree or a diploma in nursing but not a BSN to enroll in a nurse practitioner program.  Prerequisite college credits and courses are usually required so make sure to do adequate research on your program of interest so you can determine if you are eligible or need to complete more coursework before applying.  Compared to programs for NP students without any prior nursing education mentioned above, RN to MSN programs tend to be more flexible.  They are offered by a larger number of schools and are often able to be completed online.

Looking for an accelerated program in your area?  Let me know and I will work to find the best option for you!