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Norfolk program allows aspiring nurses to earn BSN degrees faster

A program out of Norfolk trains nursing students in a fraction of the traditional time. 13News Now found out how it stacks up and why it comes at a pivotal time.

NORFOLK, Va. — With a nursing shortage only exacerbated by the pandemic, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an average of 194,500 registered nurse openings each year until 2030.

"We're in public health, we're in the communities, we're in acute care," said Dr. Linda Brown.

Brown is the director of nursing services for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at Averett University, based in Danville.

The program is out of Norfolk and takes 16 months to complete. Without any prerequisites, a traditional program would take four years.

Brown said dozens of aspiring nurses are on the fast track to fill a workforce need under the ABSN program. 

"It's certainly an opportunity for us to support not only our communities, but add to the profession because that 16 months, they're still doing the same curriculum and you're still maintaining that rigor," she said.

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Enrollees are already equipped with prerequisites from college or time in the military. 

Some are shifting from other degrees or health care disciplines. 

"Maybe they were a nutritionist, maybe they were a physical therapist," Brown said.

She also explained the hybrid format. 

"Our students get an opportunity to see everything that they would be seeing, because our labs are set up just like it would be in a hospital setting. Our simulation room is just like you'd have a private room in a hospital setting."

Michelle Balderrama, an ABSN student, said their classes are comprehensive.

"It ties into what we're learning on the online side of it," Balderrama said. 

Balderrama and Kahla Michaels told 13News Now they get additional hands-on experience through clinical rotations at Bon Secours.

"[That is] where we get to apply what we've learned, and it just kind makes it all click and go together," Michaels said.

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As Hampton Roads moms, Balderrama and Michaels have been juggling day-to-day life while in the thrust of what they call an intense program.

"You've got to put in the work for everything you do," Balderrama said.

Michaels said the program sets them up for success. 

"If we want to roll into a higher level of education after our BSN, that opens up the window," she said.

And they said they see the reward in not only helping serve through health care, but also in relieving a stretched workforce.

Students accepted into the ABSN program either start in January, May or August.

If you'd like to learn more, head to this website

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