i am currently a level 5 (of 5) student at gcu. i am in the st. joseph fast track program. are classes are on st. joes campus, and almost all clinicals are there too. here are the program stats.
we have programs in tucson (that require contracts with hospitals), on campus/traditional, fast-track at st. joes and john c. lincoln.
1. fast track is 5 semesters (year-round). i started sept. 07' and graduate may '09 (20 months). most classes are 8 weeks in length, a semester is 16 weeks.
2. we have clinicals throughout the whole program. (including community health, home health, and leadership/management/practicum). hours vary sometimes 8hr, sometimes 12hrs per shift. usually 2x week.
3. the program is expensive, but worth it. st. joes pays a portion of our tuition (so it is cheaper than the traditional program, and slightly less than asu). we do not owe st. joes anything, they give us incentives throughout the program in hopes of retaining us.
4. we have no waiting list, each round of admissions is new. apply early, sometimes the fast-track does not fill up. people are scared of it, but it really isn't that accelerated, we just do not get much of a break (ie: one week in summer, 2 in winter, and 1 for spring break).
5. you can get partial tuition assistance if you extern at st. joes (but then you owe 1 to 3 yrs depending on how much you take).
6. i started at a community college (a good one), our training is very similar. most of the community colleges here are great, but with the wait list it can take almost as long to get an adn as a bsn. just depends if you want to go on or not. i know i want to be an np, so i went bsn. it is a personal choice. many hospitals will no longer payoff bsn so dont count on a rn-bsn degree for free. i think az community college grads are at the same level clinically, as all other new grad bsn rns (the skills are the same). we have a few more classes/hours/book knowlege (like management, coummunity/public health ect.)
7. yes, gcu is a christian university. sometimes we pray before or after class but you are not required to do so. we have all religions, including atheists in our class. we do have one book about spirituality in nursing. they do make a emphasis on assessing your pts spiritual needs, but as a rn you are suppose to do that anyway. as for pre-reqs you have to take 2 religious based classes ( world religions counts, and most other phi/rel courses do too). we do not have to attend church like the non-nursing programs
8. if you have a previous degree, they waive some pre-reqs.
9. gcu is very supportive, and will do anything to help you along the way. our ceo, and dean are both rn's. (fyi ceo of st. joes is rn as well). however, they are still transitioning and growing, this means things can get confusing, and you have to stay on top of your own stuff. but i found asu to be the same way.
10. you will write a lot of critical thinking papers (they are kind of like a huge care plan). they will be 20-40 pages long in apa format. sounds scary but they ease you into it. you will feel very prepared for masters level course work.
11. since we have a rapport with the hospital, we have gotten to see nontraditional nursing school clinical areas as well. we have been to barrows neurological or (amazing), interventional radiology/specials (very cool), pacu, pre-op, nyicu, peds cticu (congenital heart floor, great area). outside the hospital we did hospice, home health, schools, jails, cp/rehab clinic, homeless shelters, and the option of parish nursing. (these are all areas you dont always get to see in other programs). plus, the normal clinical areas like med/surg, geriatric, cardiac, peds, ob, mental health ect.
hints: get an extern position (most pay, some like jcl offer full benefits). apply in 1st or 2nd block. it will help you clinically and teach you time managment. plus, it is easier to get a job in an area that you like. for example if you like icu, extern in telemetry for one year. then when you are a senior transfer to the icu of your choice (or ed). you get six months there before you graduate, and can make your transition to rn easier.
thanks everyone. i hope this was as unbiased as possible. i started down the adn route myself, and did all pre-reqs at community colleges (it saves you tons of money). i feel very well prepared to start my career.