Undeniably, the nursing field is transforming in parallel with the increasing demand for nurses in the healthcare system. The nursing bridge program is also part of the modern-day requirements and developments in nursing practice.
But before moving further, you should understand the concept of such educational qualifications. A nursing bridge program is an academic and professional requirement for registered nurses (RNs) to complete their remaining credentials or skills-related gaps to count as undergrads and postgrads. It is necessary for situations if nurses want to advance in their careers.
Some employers require their workers to meet certain academic requirements, such as a level of education. So, if nurses have to justify their qualifications with extra credits or course work, a bridge program can help close any gaps. Licensed nurses pursue a bridge program to practice as registered nurses (RN). In the same way, many candidates transform their two-year associate degrees to a bachelor’s of nursing (BSN) practice degree with a bridge program.
To do so, medical institutes facilitate students in embarking on their professional journey with online and offline options. An online bridge program is relatively more suitable for already working nurses. It helps them satisfy eligibility with a limited expenditure of resources and time. As a result, nurses can advance in their professional careers without difficulties. Thus it is an inevitable condition for budding professionals. But before that, you should acquaint yourself with the common questions about earning Your RN to BSN degree online. The following sections discuss some prerequisites that you should consider before opting for a bridge program.
- Admission requirements of the program
Even if you are pursuing a bridge program, you still have to fulfill the admission requirements of the program and institute. Without meeting the selection criteria, including clinical experience, practitioner license, and minimum grades, you cannot get admission to medical schools.
Schools also evaluate if the candidates have experience in the relevant niche. Otherwise, they do not consider the application against students’ preferences. For that, you cannot do away without affiliating with a healthcare facility before entering to bridge program. Some schools also require students to prove their language proficiency via standardized examinations. You will also have to satisfy your application with written statements and references from employers. Whatever the case, a thorough review can help you prepare the application easily.
- Categories of a bridge program
Bridge programs are as diverse as the nursing field itself. They range from providing practice licensure to developing nurses as intellectuals, innovators, and leaders. The advantage of bridge programs is you can move up the academic and professional ladder at any stage of your nursing practice.
If you have recently completed a diploma or associate degree, you can acquire a bachelor’s degree with a fast-paced bridge program. This option will elevate your candidature from a mere nurse practitioner to a specialized professional. If you want to jump directly to an advanced level qualification, a bridge program can also prepare you for MSN or even a doctorate. This route will diversify your skills and open up more prospects than BSN.
With a bachelor to doctorate bridge program, you can upgrade from a nurse practitioner to executive-level competence and contribute to policymaking. In essence, each category offers diverse options to choose from as per your requirements.
- Professional benefits of the bridge program
Before you endeavor for a bridge program, it is essential to know how it will contribute to your professional development. Market dynamics are changing, and so are the requirements of healthcare employers. Given the competition, candidates have to raise their profiles to qualify for a position. It means an undergraduate degree is a minimum requirement instead of a diploma. Thus if you intend to gain licensure to an associate degree with the bridge program, it may not pay off in the long term.
Similarly, you should also evaluate your focus area as some specialties are paying less and losing preference than others. In that case, you should prepare for a bachelor’s in nursing or even a master’s with a demanding specialty. This route will minimize your study duration and expenses as well. And most importantly, you can qualify for competitive positions and make more of your time.
- Total expenses and financial assistance options
You certainly cannot earn an education without catering to the expenses. And before considering further education, you should evaluate its prospects from an economic point of view.
A bridge program may involve expenditure related to licensure, commuting, study material, upgrading grades, and others. Charges of these factors may vary with the financial situation over time. Thus if you make calculations well in advance, you will have time to gather the required money or search for aid. Maybe you can seek the assistance of your employer. You can also enquire from the medical schools as they also facilitate students with some relaxation in fees.
Schools also offer scholarships to students if they meet the criteria. However, since everyone contests for financial aid and scholarships, there are additional and stringent requirements. Thus you should gather relevant information and weigh your likelihood.
- Flexibility to work and study
Generally, bridge programs do not force students to abandon their professional commitments. Students have to accommodate their study schedules while carrying out professional responsibilities wisely. However, it also depends on what program and specialty you choose. If the program is demanding, you have to ensure your commitment accordingly. In that case, you may not pursue a professional career until the program’s completion.
It does not mean you cannot gain experience because practice is also part of the study modules, and you will perform necessary clinical procedures in laboratories and clinics. However, you will have to lose economic independence if you are a working professional. Likewise, you may also have to minimize your family obligations to ensure undivided attention to education. It becomes inevitable if the school is out of home town or country. If you cannot ensure commitment, the duration of your degree will increase, and so will the expenses.
- Approach and structure of bridge program
A thorough review of the bridge program in its entirety can help you plan and accomplish your goals. You can brief yourself regarding credit hours, subjects, duration, and clinical practice. You can plan your schedule as per the program’s formalities, progression, and assessment criteria. Slow-paced programs allow students to revise concepts and absorb new information gradually. Others presume students’ proficiency with fundamental concepts and proceed with a rollercoaster speed to introduce advanced knowledge and skills.
With bridge programs, nurses have the option to choose from several specialties and streamline their career paths in a relatively short time. Their importance is further increasing with time. It is because diploma and associate programs do not prepare candidates holistically like the bachelor’s or higher education programs. Healthcare employers also want candidates with sound and sufficient knowledge than mere assistants. Thus if you are also an entry-level practitioner, a bridge program can readily augment your career.