This guest blog post was written by Mitch Lee. Mitch Lee is a community health education specialist and writer on behalf of University Alliance. With several years of experience in public health, Mitch has worked on several community wellness campaigns and participated in education advocacy projects for non-traditional students.
Transitioning from ADN to BSN ─ Growing a Career in Nursing
The RN Associate Degree can be a great starting point for the career, but some professionals decide to go back for their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Not only does earning your BSN open doors you may not have been able to enter with an ADN training program, but it also provides invaluable skills that will help make your future success even more likely.
History of the Nursing Associate’s Degree
The nursing associate’s degree program was developed to respond to the shortage of registered nurses (RNs) after World War II and the reform movement dedicated to moving nursing into higher education. The reason for this is because, during WWII, many people went off to fight in an effort that left much of America with few available resources – including medical staff members like RNs.
However, despite these shortages, some hospitals were still refusing low-paying jobs or employing women who had less than one year of experience as Registered Nurses.
In response, there began a strong call by feminist groups such as Delta Kappa Gamma, which advocated for more opportunities for a working woman while also advocating against discrimination based on gender, among other things. As well they argued strongly about turning what traditional female professions have.
As nurses responded to the military’s call for service during World War II, their departures left a severe shortage of RNs in the rest of the country. Initially, the gap was filled with students still completing their education; they worked under the watchful eye of a busy supervisor, putting in overtime to compensate for the shortage of fully trained staff. In 1950, Columbia University doctoral student Mildred Montag created the philosophy and plan for the associate’s degree in nursing.
“There has been a growing realization that the functions and activities of nurses are changing and becoming more extensive and more complex,” stated Montag. “There has been less realization of the need to adjust nursing programs to equip the graduates for these changing functions. It should be obvious that the demands made on nursing personnel make an improved education mandatory.”
Montag received support from faculty members at Columbia University and eventually an initial pilot program was launched. The Cooperative Research Project was based at Teachers College, Columbia University. The program started in January, 1952 and served as the start of the project in Junior and Community college education for nursing. The project was based on the following four assumptions:
- The practice of nursing is constantly changing.
- An educational program could be created to train a new nurse at the intermediate level.
- The simplest, most basic nurse functions could be taught on-the-job.
- Programs should be taught at a technical institution, such as a junior or community college.
This plan broke the 75-year-old nursing preparation program, previously viewed as the only adequate training for the profession.
What is the Difference Between ADN and BSN Nursing?
Choosing a career as a nurse is an excellent decision for anyone wanting to pursue fulfilling and long-lasting work. Nurses are the backbone of medical care, often having more contact with patients than other doctors do in their day.
It’s no surprise that many students choose to nurse because they have strong desires to help others while also being interested in medicine which makes sense considering what nurses do.
There are several different types of nurse roles that you can pursue, including LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse), LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse), RN (Registered Nurse), and advanced options, which include the ADN (Associate Degree Nursing) and BSN (Bachelor Degree in Nursing).
ADN and BSN: What is the Difference?
There are several key differences between an ADN (Associate Degree Nursing) and a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). Even though both degrees have the same foundation, plenty of additional studies go into earning a Bachelor’s. While this might sound like it takes longer to finish your degree program, many people find that they can advance their career more quickly when earning a higher-level degree such as a Bachelor’s.
There is quite a difference in length and cost between these two programs to start on this comparison. The ADN takes around two years to complete, whereas the BSN will take you anywhere from 4-6 years if you want to go for the full-time student option. Also, cost-wise, the BSN will cost you more because of the length. It doesn’t take into account if you go full-time or part-time in your schoolwork.
It is also important to note that there will be a difference in jobs available to each degree type after you get done with school. According to Payscale, ADN’s are limited as far as job options go and typically only earn around $40,000 to $50,000 per year, which isn’t a lot when compared to other nurse degrees out there.
On the other hand, BSN’s can see their potential earnings rise significantly upon graduation into an average wage earner one day who can make over $60,000 to $70,000 per year at any given time. These numbers are simply averages, so some people could see even higher wages depending on where they work and what type of career they want to pursue.
Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing: A More Elaborate Approach
If you are the kind of person who likes to go into more detail and dig deep into a subject, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree may be for you since there is less general coursework involved with this degree path. With a BSN, you can get a broader look at how nursing helps people communicate, promote health through wellness topics, learn about different approaches to disease management, and much more when it comes to health care.
Not only will you have the opportunity to learn about many relevant topics while working on your BSN, but you also take specialized courses that will help refine your skills. As mentioned earlier, the differences don’t just stop at length and time.
There are also many different topics that you will learn about in your ADN program that you won’t see in a BSN program, such as leadership, advocacy, health promotion/disease prevention, home care nursing, and much more. It is because the Bachelor’s Degree takes a more general approach to learn about nursing techniques.
You're a Great Nurse!
Join a community of nurses who will make you feel like the rock start care giver you are!
In contrast, the Associate Degree spends less time refining these skills and instead goes into greater detail on specific issues related to patient care.
Now that we know what an ADN and BSN have to offer students interested in pursuing further education, it is important to note that there are other options if you want to study nursing but find these two confusing or not right for you. You can always pursue an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) or LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) in your state, which will help you get started on your nursing career without having to spend as much time going into more detail about health care. These two options are also much less expensive than the previous two programs.
As stated earlier, an ADN is significantly cheaper than a BSN program by thousands of dollars. However, these degrees do not have as many accredited schools offering them due to their nature being a 2-year program with little room for specialization compared to other programs available today.
Bachelor’s Degree: What it Takes to Get There and the Benefits You Will Receive
Suppose you want to be considered qualified as a nurse. In that case, you may want to pursue your Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing right away and start making money quicker while at the same time giving yourself more opportunities for advancement later down the line. The great thing about going with this option is that there are many specializations available within nursing that you can choose from, so you will find something that fits your personality and goals perfectly.
An ADN program can take some people years to graduate from college because they have other factors in their lives stopping them, such as work, family, or financial issues.
It means it will take that long for students to get through all of their classes which could mean they will miss out on certain learning opportunities where being present is necessary. In addition, there is not as much opportunity to specialize within this degree path compared to the BSN, where students can go into more detail with their education.
However, if you are someone who doesn’t have the time or money to dedicate yourself fully to a Bachelor’s program, then it may make sense for you to pursue an ADN first and then later on in life return back to school for your BSN. This way, you will start making money sooner and still get the training you need once you are finished.
Why Get a BSN?
The ADN and BSN provide nurses with the necessary skills to succeed as RNs, offering similar coursework in nursing, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry and psychology ─ with a heavy weight placed on supervised clinical experience. The main difference is BSN programs offer training beyond essential RN skills, including the chance to develop critical thinking, communication, and leadership abilities.
While a 2009 survey published by RN magazine noted that ADN and BSN candidates holding the same position tend to be paid equally, it’s important to note the advantages offered by the latter degree. Professionals aspiring to advance to a teaching, research or administrative positive need the leadership skills provided by the BSN degree. Additionally, most advanced nursing positions have a minimum required education of a BSN, so an RN hoping to achieve upward mobility would need to obtain this degree level.
Many hospitals have recently started requiring RNs with an associate’s degree to obtain their BSN degree, due to increased demands on the nursing field. In 2010, the Institute of Medicine set a target goal of 80 percent of all nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree by 2020, claiming patients receive better care from nurses with higher levels of education.
In fact, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, created the Magnet Recognition Program to highlight leading healthcare facilities. This distinguishment signifies that as of January 1, 2013, all the nurse managers in the organization have a BSN or graduate degree. “Magnet” status also typically means that a large percentage of nurses hold a BSN for jobs in direct patient care, as roughly 50% of all nurses in such positions at Magnet-recognized hospitals fall into this category.
Choosing a RN to BSN Program
Nurses are able to choose from both on-campus and online programs to earn their BSN degree. Each type of program offers unique advantages to students, allowing them to learn in the manner that best fits their needs.
Students enrolled in an on-campus program enjoy the ability to learn along with their peers and have easy access to instructors. Many people learn better when given the opportunity to participate in discussions or receive one-on-one instruction from a professor during office hours. This form of learning also typically provides more real-world experience than an online format, as students receive hands-on instruction in a collaborative environment.
An online RN to BSN program is an attractive option for many students because they typically allow for increased flexibility. Those working full-time often choose this route, as it offers a better work-life balance. Rather than having to be in class at a certain time, students can typically complete their weekly assignments when it’s most convenient for them.
Students looking to advance in the field of nursing need to obtain a BSN to set the foundation for their future. While an ADN provides the skills needed to function as an RN, the BSN offers instruction on communication, critical thinking, and leadership topics, helping students to prepare for more advanced nursing roles.
Nurse Eye Roll here.. I am a huge BSN advocate. I’ve sat in on many meetings with nursing administration over the past few years and many hospitals are going to start looking at the BSN degree as a requirement in the future. While the ADN is still a great choice for many, it will become a stepping stone to becoming BSN-prepared.
Furthermore, should you decide the bedside is not where you belong after you graduate, without a BSN your options are limited. Those of you graduating with an ADN, I highly recommend getting a timeline set for obtaining your BSN sooner rather than later. It is easier to jump back into a program after graduating with your ADN than waiting for 10 years, having your math and sciences expire, and figuring out how to do school all over again. Thanks Mitch, for your expertise in this area!
For any questions or further guidance, you can call 855-300-1473 for technical questions.