What is the Fastest Way to Become a Nurse?

registered nurse and doctor in hospital
registered nurse and doctor in hospital

Nursing is a professional career that requires a substantial commitment to study and learn about the human body. It takes time to complete clinical practice experience, hone hands-on patient care, and develop communication skills within an interdisciplinary team.

With this training required, you may be wondering how long does it take to become an RN? The quickest way to become a nurse is dependent on your educational background. There are several pathways to becoming an RN, and this blog will help you determine which one is right for you.

First, let’s take a brief look at the role and responsibilities of an RN before exploring the educational pathways and timelines toward this fulfilling career.

Role and Responsibilities of a Registered Nurse

The RN role is highly regarded for blending critical thinking and compassionate care for the ultimate goal of healthy patients and families. If you enjoy problem-solving and lifelong learning, the RN role may be an excellent fit for you. Ongoing education is part of evidence-based practice that characterizes quality nursing care.

In a typical day, most RN roles include the following types of activities:

  • Assessments including health history and physical examination
  • Planning and implementation of nursing care
  • Goal setting and evaluation of health outcomes
  • Administration of medications and thorough documentation
  • Patient education and advocacy

Within the role of a nurse, there are also clinical and non-clinical positions available. Depending on your interests or desired work environment, you may prefer non-clinical roles such as research or nursing informatics opportunities that can be attained with a nursing license and additional training. Nurses interested in clinical care may choose to specialize in a particular patient population or practice area such as:

  • Pediatrics (inpatient or outpatient)
  • Psychiatric mental health
  • Community or public health
  • Hospice and palliative care
  • Critical care
  • Academics

This large variety of nursing job options makes it possible for the RN role to be both rewarding and challenging no matter where you work.

Rewards and Challenges of Becoming an RN

One of the biggest rewards of becoming a nurse is the sense of fulfillment experienced in this profession. Making a positive difference in the lives of others can be extremely meaningful, and nurses have everyday opportunities to help others when they need it most.

The presence of a knowledgeable and empathetic nurse can make all the difference in the experience of patients and families. Excellent nurses can bring comfort during times of uncertainty and foster confidence when navigating the newness of celebratory milestones, such as the birth of a baby or recovery following a restorative surgery.

Job security is another benefit of becoming an RN. The career outlook for RNs in the United States is favorable, with projected growth of 6% over the next decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for RNs in May 2022 was approximately $89,010 with the highest annual wages in the following states:

  • California ($133,340)
  • Hawaii ($113,220)
  • Oregon ($106,610)
  • Massachusetts ($104,150)
  • Alaska ($103,310)

The profession does have challenges, such as long hours and shift work to ensure the availability of necessary nursing care for patients. It can be stressful to manage acute, life-threatening situations that nurses may encounter, and there will always be difficult situations where therapeutic relationships are challenging.

Many nurses find that the rewards of nursing outweigh the challenges, and those with the right skills and a passion for helping others have options for entering the field through one of several pathways.

Read 7 Reasons Why I Want to Be a Nurse

Pathways to Become an RN

  • Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN)

If you want to enter the nursing field without any college education, the ADN can be an efficient initial path. The ADN is the quickest way to become an RN if you don’t have a college degree, taking approximately two years to complete. ADN’s who want to advance to the BSN degree would then take an RN-BSN program.

The BSN is preferred for the critical thinking and leadership skills developed during the rigorous curriculum that is traditionally offered over a four-year timeframe. BSN-prepared nurses have an advantage for job opportunities over those with an ADN and often receive higher salaries.

For individuals who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and are looking to transition into nursing as a second career, the most efficient route to the preferred BSN degree is through an Accelerated BSN (ABSN). ABSN programs leverage your prior education and move you toward a nursing career in two years or less.

Benefits of an online or hybrid ABSN program may include:

  • Fastest route to becoming a nurse for those with a bachelor’s degree in another field
  • Online coursework with in-person clinical experiences
  • Graduation with the preferred BSN degree

ABSN programs can often be completed in under two years and are the quickest way for those who hold a bachelor’s degree to become a nurse.

Become a Nurse in Less Time at Rockhurst University

The online ABSN program at Rockhurst University is an excellent choice for those with a prior bachelor’s degree looking to become a nurse on an efficient timeline. The program can be completed in just 16 months with 100% online coursework and other attractive features such as:

  • Dedicated clinical placement services with preceptor-matching, which allows students to focus on their studies while connecting with potential employers
  • A 10-day campus residency experience at Rockhurst’s state-of-the-art facility
  • Affordable education with added-value support from a student success adviser
  • 1:1 NCLEX coaching
  • Program accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Learn more about Rockhurst’s online ABSN program by visiting the program page today.

About Rockhurst University's Online Programs

In the heart of Kansas City since 1910, Rockhurst University is dedicated to learning, leadership and service in the Jesuit tradition, and today is the #1 Regional University in Kansas City (2021 U.S. News and World Report).

Rockhurst University’s online programs are delivered by the highly reputable Saint Luke’s ™ College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the School of Education. As an educational leader serving exceptional students in the field of health care and education, we are committed to preparing the workforce of tomorrow with our unique programs designed to prepare graduates to meet the needs of diverse populations and work in various organizations.

To learn more about our highly competitive online programs, please visit onlinedegrees.rockhurst.edu, or read more here: