Print

Become a Nurse >> Browse Articles >> Degrees & Certifications >> ADN

Become a Nurse >> Browse Articles >> Degrees & Certifications >> BSN

+12

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!


+12
  • 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.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    danirn

    over 5 years ago

    4 comments

    The bottom line is this: You have to decide what you want out of your nursing career. Yes, some ADN's are DON's and Directors, but this is an exception, NOT the rule. If you want an easier time climbing that career ladder or have intentions of furthering your nursing choices you HAVE to get your BSN, if you want to be at the bedside, keep your ADN. Secondly, although many don't think that you won't need your BSN, look at Nebraska, you can't pracitice in the state without a BSN, and New York 's goal is to have the same legislation by 2015. Just something to think about.

  • Iq_max50

    MissRN2009

    almost 6 years ago

    28 comments

    I like the article and I agree with catfoodprincess..we train monkeys.. ADN and BSN take the same NCLEX exam, if we complete the ADN and go back for our BSN we do not have to take NCLEX again..case in point ..we are all the same with RN behnd our name regardless of our degree!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    almost 6 years ago

    Thank you so much for this article! I just started college last semester and hopefully in another year or two I will apply to my college's nursing program. I decided to attend a local community college which from what I have heard has a great two-year nursing program. I had some doubts at first because I have always heard having a BSN was better than just an ADN but now that I have read this article I feel so much better. I now know that having an an ADN matters just as much as a BSN and gives you a head start in the field of nursing. I plan to get my ADN, gain a couple of years experience then aim for a BSN. Thanks again!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    CRNAJax

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    It saddens me to read that people are making decisions about their educational futures based on articles like this one. Please, if you are considering becoming a nurse, do yourself a favor an get your BSN now. You are wasting your time getting an ADN. A 2 year program is not easier than a 4 year program and is not really 2 years I'm sorry to say. I live in Jacksonville, FL and the BSN program is 5 semesters long, while the ADN program is 4 semesters long...so why would anyone get a 2 year degree? If you want to work in pediatrics or the NICU in this city, it will be much easier to get into those units with a BSN. Also, with many hospitals wanting magnet status, many are requiring that nurses get there BSN. My last point is that even though you think all you want to do is be a nurse, one day that may change and you may decide you want to be a nurse manager or an ARNP or even a CRNA...guess what you need a BSN first! Many times that means doing the prerequisite courses to enter a university and then take 1 years worth of nursing school courses...when if you had just gotten your BSN in the first place you could just start graduate school. So, if you want to waste money in the long run feel free to get your ADN. Also, I really don't understand why so many young women are fitting a higher education. Nursing is already looked at as not being a true profession, and why is that...because of the lack of real education most "nurses" have. It is truly sad not to want more for yourself or your profession. As someone who had 2 kids and went to an ADN program and then later on had to do a ton a prerequisites, then apply and do another year of nursing school and then another year of courses to get into CRNA school and then went on and got my DNP; I'm telling you I wish I had had someone like myself advise me on this issue b/c it would have saved me 2 years of extra school work. So, what I saw as being the easy way out in hind site was not.

  • Dscf0741_max50

    Future_RN87

    about 6 years ago

    8 comments

    This article really related to my situation. I have 5 more pre-req classes to finish before I can enter into the 2 year RN program. I have been second guessing if it would be a better idea to transfer to a 4 year, in order to get a BSN. Reading this article, I will apply for the 2 year program for sure.

    Thanks for the compare and contrast of the 2!

  • Kippie_sparkie_birds-43_max50

    NurseNess

    about 6 years ago

    8 comments

    This was discussed last night between me and a few staff memebers. They asked me if I had to do it again, would I get my BSN or ADN? Honestly, the ADN program probably would have sufficed. I like being a nurse, I do not want to teach, nor do I want to be a NP or CRNA. I may change my mind, and in that case, I will be glad to have my BSN. Otherwise, having my BSN hasn't increased my salary or anything. Anyone going into nursing need to decide what their ultimate goal is.

  • Me_max50

    kelsi

    over 6 years ago

    6 comments

    I am just getting ready to go to school this fall to start my general education so I can someday become a nurse. this artical really makes me feel more secure about going to a two year school, because I have had some doubts about if it would be good enough to get me to where I wan to go in my life. Thank you.
    I am eager to get started and get in the feild... :-)

  • 019_max50

    latoyadg

    over 6 years ago

    14 comments

    I am beginning nursing school at an ADN program in August. This article confirmed what i already knew but the comments informed me of some things. I have already decided to continue to a RN-BSN program once I receive the ADN because i want to be a CRNA but it is great to know that if I decide not to go back to school for my BSN that i wont be looked at as 'less of a nurse" because i have a AD in Nursing.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MarieTheCatLady

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    This was a very well written article. I am looking into the various programs offered and the comments I've read here tonight has been very enlightening. Thank you everyone.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 6 years ago

    interesting article

  • Modeling_6_max50

    EvangelisticSistah

    over 6 years ago

    88 comments

    Seems this article answered my question for me...ADN is good enough for me to get started with atleast :)

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    suz7612002

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I was in a program at University of Phoenix, but had to drop due to family health issues. I wanted to start back up again, but I would have to take ALL of the courses again, even those I could now probably teach. Have decided to get a certificate as a Legal Nuse Consultant, and still work in my very nice, comfy job, doing my best every day and loving it. Any help with a fast paced BSN program with no BS?

  • Real_estate_photo_max50

    tonigr32

    over 6 years ago

    10 comments

    My best friend and I was just talking about this issue a couple of hours ago. Huge Thanks to the person that posted it. This article answered alot of questions I had.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    teenzmom

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have been an ADN nurse for over 20 yrs. I recently completed my BS. No difference in pay, and being able to function at a higher level straight from school made me choose ADN in the first place. Getting my BSN was more about me then it was about nursing. You learn on the job. If your goal is in research, or advanced practice, BSN is the way to go. If you are unsure, ADN provide a way to earn, and try out the field without the time and money invested. The title doesn't make you a better or worse nurse. Time in field and a genuine interst in learning does. There is a place for both, and we should respect and learn from each other

NursingLink School Finder

Save time in your search for a nursing or healthcare degree program. Use NursingLink's School Finder to locate schools online and in your area.

Get Info

* In the event that we cannot find a program from one of our partner schools that matches your specific area of interest, we may show schools with similar or unrelated programs.