University of New England Nursing School Launches 12-month Accelerated BSN Program

Gayle Morris, MSN
Updated December 13, 2023
Edited by
    UNE's new 12-month accelerated nursing program, designed for students with a bachelor's in another field, addresses educational needs and the nursing shortage.
    Nursing student raising hand during lectureCredit: Getty Images
    • The University of New England worked with accreditors to revise the 16-month accelerated nursing program to a 12-month program without sacrificing learning outcomes.
    • Typical bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs require four years to complete, while accelerated BSN programs typically take 16-24 months.
    • UNE officials created the condensed timeline in part to help address the region’s worsening nursing shortage.

    On November 9, the University of New England (UNE) announced a 12-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (ABSN) degree program it hopes will help meet student demand and address the growing nursing shortage in Maine, where UNE is based.

    The current ABSN program is substantially more compressed than other accelerated nursing programs and replaces UNE’s 16-month ABSN program, which launched in 2013.

    “Currently, Maine is experiencing a significant nursing workforce shortage, and we wanted to explore possible pathways for shortening the time required for the degree process for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree,” Donna Hyde, MSN/Ed, interim director of the UNE School of Nursing and Population Health, told NurseJournal. “We studied other models, consulted with our accreditors, and revised our program, which can now be completed in one calendar year without sacrificing established student learning outcomes and clinical experiences.”

    Accelerated BSN Programs: What Are They?

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects job growth for registered nurses (RN) to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032, which is faster than the average across all occupations.

    Typically, a BSN program takes about four years to complete. However, some students take classes part-time, with degrees taking up to six years to complete. An ABSN program allows students to earn a BSN faster than they would in a traditional program.

    ABSN programs are designed for individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field who want to become nurses. Typically, ABSN programs require full-time enrollment and take 16-24 months to complete. ABSN programs are also pre-licensure, meaning that applicants do not have an RN license.

    UNE’s new ABSN program is structured for students to attend classes throughout the year. The fall and spring semesters are approximately 15 weeks, and the summer semester is approximately 12 weeks. The students will follow the same undergraduate academic calendar with winter and holiday breaks.

    “Clinicals and experiential offerings coincide with the course work,” Hyde said. “Students are placed in rotations with local (within an hour of campus) clinical partners for the required clinical hours of that course. Clinical days and times could be days, afternoon, evening, a weekday, or weekends. This will depend on placements given by clinical partners.”

    New University of New England Accelerated BSN Program: Its Purpose and Goals

    The deepening nurse shortage across New England is affecting patient care and hospital operations and was a major driver behind UNE’s decision to offer an even more condensed ABSN program.

    “The state of Maine is demographically the oldest in the nation,” Hyde said. “Many nurses are also reaching, or have reached, retirement age. Recruiting new nurses and working to retain those educated here in Maine are important strategies to favorably impact the workforce situation.”

    The school plans to enroll up to 40 students each year in the program. Students must have a bachelor’s degree in any field and will complete the ABSN program through three consecutive semesters and 12 months.

    The shortage has affected all healthcare settings, according to Hyde. This includes acute care, community health, and long-term rehabilitation care. She noted that in acute-care settings, patients often tend to be sicker and require more care than they have in the past, as chronic conditions become increasingly prominent. Community healthcare is also seeing a higher number of clients who have to wait longer to get an appointment.

    “The trickle-down effect of fewer practitioners along with socioeconomic impacts…are placing increasing demands on health facilities,” Hyde said.

    To gain entry into the new UNE ABSN program, students must successfully complete a variety of prerequisites and meet admission criteria. Some nursing school prerequisites include anatomy and physiology I and II, microbiology, chemistry, and statistics. The program prerequisites may be taken at UNE or any accredited college or university and must have been completed within the past 10 years.

    Further, the program immerses nursing students in evidence-based science, using experiential learning and cutting-edge simulation labs to help students develop the skills they need to practice in a clinical setting. Students will be exposed to service learning by working with a variety of regional agencies.

    UNE program administrators will monitor the performance of ABSN students, having defined measurable goals to determine how well the program prepares students to work in the clinical field.

    “Measurable goals include demonstrating strong NCLEX pass rates, strong job placement rates, and student and employer satisfaction with the program,” Hyde said. “Our graduates are ready to embark on entry-level nursing practice on day one after graduation. They also have the added competency of working well in interprofessional teams.”

    Meet Our Contributor

    Portrait of Donna Hyde MSN/Ed., RN, MGSF

    Donna Hyde MSN/Ed., RN, MGSF

    Donna Hyde MSN/Ed., RN, MGSF is a proud graduate of UNE’s bachelor of science in nursing program. Prior to higher education, she served in clinical practice for 15 years in adult medical/telemetry and intensive care as a bedside registered nurse. Hyde began her academic faculty career at UNE in 2012, teaching advanced medical/surgical, pharmacology, ethics, health assessment, gerontology, and the delivery of nursing skills and simulation.

    In addition to her role as interim director, she serves as an associate clinical professor, overseeing all experiential education including nursing skills lab, simulation, acute care and community clinicals, and preceptorship placements of senior nursing students. Areas of interest include education with both novice and senior level nursing students. Hyde has a passion for working with the older population, teaching gerontology, and the use of reminiscing/life review topics. She was granted a fellowship by the Maine Gerontological Society in 2015.