Liberty University's nursing program. Courtesy of Liberty University.

Liberty University has launched a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program that can be completed in as little as one year through the Accelerated BSN (ABSN) residential program. The program is aimed at those who already have a college degree or are military veterans.

In a release from the school,  Liberty University School of Nursing Dean Shanna Akers explained that the new program is partially in response to a nationwide shortage of nurses, a result of widespread “burnout” and a lack of faculty to train the next generation. While this shortage is something that the nursing field saw coming as early as 10 years ago, according to Akers, the COVID-19 pandemic brought it to the forefront.

“When COVID hit, we started to see nurse issues across the board because of exhaustion or a lack of passion, which breaks my heart,” Akers said in a release. “We as a nation are turning away around 70,000 qualified students because we don’t have enough faculty, and we don’t have enough faculty because we don’t have enough nurses, to some extent. This is one way that our ABSN students can serve and meet a huge need that is growing. To be able to open a door for this group of people, that is really exciting to me.”

Prior to the creation of the new ABSN program, college graduates or military veterans in their 30s, 40s, or even older who decided to pursue a BSN through Liberty had to study alongside the traditional incoming students. However, as adults who oftentimes had children and a full-time job, or other responsibilities and busy schedules, the conventional four-year curriculum didn’t meet their needs, the school said. Akers also noted that military veterans who bring experience as medics or have worked in hospital settings typically do not receive credit for their patient-care background when trying to work as a civilian.

“We created opportunities for them to potentially use prior learning experiences to help account for credits,” Akers said in a release. “We’ve really built it to make the most use of their experience, meeting them where they are as adult learners and providing what they need to become registered nurses.”

Requiring students to have their general education coursework completed before entrance, the accelerated program utilizes an intensive model and takes 12 months to complete, working from January through December.

“We have two-week classes to 16-week classes and everything in between,” Akers said. “There’s no time off; they are either in class or the hospital five days a week, but we did build in some three- or four-day weekends throughout the program.”

There are nine students participating in the program, which officially kicked off on Jan. 10.