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ADN vs. BSN

ADN vs. BSN

Hollis Forster, RN

Twenty five years ago, nursing instructors told their students that in just a few years there would be no Associate degrees in nursing. All nurses who hoped to work as registered nurses would need to be Bachelor’s or Master’s trained.

Today, according to Nancy Tucker, Dean at Pacific Union College in Angwin, California, two thirds of nursing graduates every year complete their training with an AS (Associate of Science) or ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) degrees. The Associate degree trained nurse persists, providing hospitals and out patient centers with proficiently trained nurses to manage their patient care. According to Ms. Tucker, there just are not enough graduates coming out of the BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) programs to fill the needs of nursing across the state or the nation. Two year programs are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. The popularity of these programs is evidenced by the wait to enter these programs. In many schools across California, it can take two or three years to get to the top of the list to enter the nursing courses after completing general requirements. These programs are not only active, but thriving.

What about pay or advancement differentials? AS trained and BSN trained nurses are often treated equally in the hospital and out-patient setting. There are no substantial pay differentials, and nurses holding either degree have the same opportunities to become a charge nurse or director of a department.

So, what is the difference and how will it affect the course of a career in nursing? In today’s nursing world, more is expected from a nurse than following doctor’s orders and starting IVs. The nurse must be able to make critical decisions about a patient’s care, to question the doctor if orders seem inappropriate and to help the patient through, sometimes, difficult life-changing decisions. These skills take an education that is broad based, one that includes critical thinking and exposure to many different people, thought processes, and culture and societal norms. Two year nursing programs do recognize these needs and address them as they can, requiring liberal arts classes to be taken before entering the program and teaching decision making skills along the way. At every level of nursing, the ability to connect with different people, recognize the pressures they face from their personal environment and find value in each is critical. This is a lot to learn against a backdrop of proficiently performed procedures and giving the right medication.

What Can a BSN Get You?

BSN programs offer more education aimed at developing these skills. These programs bolster knowledge about community and public health issues. There is also more attention paid to nursing management, that is, enhancing skills needed to help “direct reports” do their best work for the patient and the health care organization. Opportunity to refine patient assessment skills and examine more in depth the patho-physiology of diseases, also sets these programs apart from their two-year sisters.

Nurses who graduate with a BSN degree will find it easier to enter faculty teaching positions, higher level administrative roles in hospitals or other health care environments and State or Federal level government nursing jobs. And for some, these roles are more satisfying, allowing the individual to affect change at a more global level than one-on-one nursing.

While it is true an experienced, talented nurse with an AS degree can move “up the ladder” into management and leadership roles, the Bachelor’s degree can make the climb a little less steep. And, with all this said, there will always be a critical role for the nurse who works directly with the patient, teaching patients about their health care, assuring quality wound management in the hospital setting and observing patients for signs of a worsening condition.

Nursing is a huge and welcoming field. It offers a satisfying career path for both AS and BSN trained nurses. Whatever path you have chosen in nursing, the essential wisdom is to continue enhancing your skills and education so that your community, your organization and your patients benefit from your broadened view of the world.

ADN vs. BSN? Click here to join the discussion!


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    anniemadison

    about 3 years ago

    12 comments

    I have an Associate Degree in Nursing and sometimes I regret I did not choose BSN instead. It is easier to climb on the career ladder with a BSN degree; recently I finished lcu.com/bsom/organizational-management-degree-development.asp">degree in organizational management and hope that in the future I could reach a higher level administrative role.

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    turner08

    almost 4 years ago

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    vpoonia

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    Everyone is absolutely right in their perspective. ADN vs. BSN, there always will be a debate as to who is more competent in patient care coming straight out of college. But look at it this way. A nurse getting an ADN has only two years of clinical education, whereas a nurse with a BSN has four years of the same. Of course, there will be a disparity. But put them out in the field, and I am certain that an ADN nurse with two years of work experience will be as competent, if not more, as a BSN nurse coming straight out of the ivy league university.
    But at the end, both nurses will get yelled at by the MD, there's no denying it. So, take your degree for its worth.

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    NLM_RNBSN

    over 5 years ago

    4 comments

    I have completed my BSN this past month and I was not trained to go from class room to behind a desk as stated by "rcaega". BSN nurses are trained in more theory and have more clinical hours than ADN nurses, this doesn't make BSN nurses better or showing prejudice it is merely stating a fact that BSN nurses are more prepared for patient care encompassing theory and bedside care.

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    Account Removed

    over 5 years ago

    I am proud to have an ASN. I may go back and get my BSN, but I might not. I work as a case manager and a board certified lactation consultant. i love me job and I am not required to have a BSN.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    rcaega

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    One more time a BSN trained nurse represents the ADN nurse as second class...even if not specifically stated. Yes, there is no dobt to the concept that the BSN has a leg up on the management cycle... But professionally I have met too many BSN and MSN managers who have spent their carreers behind the desk, litereally from classroom to office, having little if any real nursing skills. There is a place for all of us... cut the ego driven prejudices. Allow people to make decisions based upon their personal, financial needs and reward all of us for fulfilling our dreams whatever they might be!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    abejaMaya

    over 5 years ago

    2 comments

    I am doing some research on the topic, and this is what I have found:
    BSN programs are longer and potentially more expensive, but they have a broader nursing knowledge. It is not true that BSN's are more "textbook knowledgeable" in fact BSN students get about 500 more clinical hours than ADN students.
    A higher proportion of BSN nurses has been linked to better patient outcomes, according to the research, and in most magnet hospitals, the proportion of BSN's is higher.
    BSN's have the ability to move up the ladder more quickly than ADNs, and if your final goal is to be in management (CEO, COO), nursing instructor, nurse researcher or nurse practitioner, then you definitely want a BSN. ADN's can also do this, but they have to go back to school to get their BSN which ends up being just as long and expensive as if they had done their BSN in the first place.
    The bad news is that BSNs and ADNs get paid the same when beggining their nursing career. but if you add up the different job opporunities that come with a bachelor's you end up making more money with your BSN than your ADN. Some say that if you want a good nursing job you want to go for your ADN degree, but if you want a nursing career then you should get a BSN.

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