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Accelerated nursing programs in Florida help get new nurses into practice faster


While nursing wasn’t her first career, Proebe Ybanez always felt a pull toward the profession. As a teenager growing up in the Philippines, she recalls feeling helpless as she watched her great-aunt suffer a massive seizure. Years later, when she was teaching chemistry in Arizona, she says she noticed promising students going missing for days or weeks at a time, only to learn they were at home taking care of sick relatives or dealing with their own illnesses. “That was the turning point for me,” she says. “Teaching is great; teaching is wonderful. It gives me so much pride and joy, but I felt like in that moment, health care is where I need to be.”

Ybanez, 28, took the fast track to becoming a nurse — landing a spot in the University of Central Florida’s accelerated nursing program and earning her bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN) in just four semesters (about a year). UCF’s second-degree nursing program has been in place for nearly 20 years, but programs like it (there are 11 in Florida) have become a key tool to shore up the RN pipeline amid a nationwide nursing shortage.

Last summer, 70 students graduated from UCF’s second-degree nursing program, and over the last three years more than 200 “career changers” have become nurses.

Ybanez, who graduated last summer, has accepted a position at AdventHealth in Orlando and will start her nurse residency there in October, working in a vascular unit. Looking ahead, she hopes to continue her education and eventually become a family nurse practitioner. “I would really love to go back into the community I was raised in and help underserved populations, so I want to become a family health practitioner and do some global health nursing in the future,” Ybanez says.

Accelerated Nursing Programs

Last year, Jacksonville University’s Keigwin School of Nursing teamed up with Baptist Health to launch a 12-month, second-degree program for nursing students who already have bachelor’s degrees. The school also offers a 16-month program for students with prior four-year degrees.

AdventHealth University, a private, faith-based university focused on health care with campuses in Orlando and Denver, has replaced its four-year curriculum for a BSN nursing degree with a three-year curriculum, beginning this fall. The restructured program targets high school graduates, college transfer students and mid-career professionals and aims to get new nurses into practice faster.

The Arizona College of Nursing, a Phoenix-headquartered private school that has campuses in Tampa and Sarasota, also is offering an accelerated program through which students can earn their BSN in three years or less.