Nursing students are sometimes confused about what kind of nursing degree to obtain. The two choices nurses most often consider are between an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) , which usually takes two years to complete, or the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, which takes four years. Both of these nursing degrees lead to the Registered Nurse (RN) designation, but there are crucial differences between them. Choosing one over the other depends on financial factors, the length of time to be spent in an educational program, and long-term career goals.
The major differences between the two nursing degrees involve the length of time required to complete each program and the number of academic credits required. A typical ADN degree will take two years, compared to four years for the BSN – plus the time it takes to finish the prerequisites necessary to enroll in a BSN program. (This may not be a factor for individuals who already have Bachelor’s degrees (BAs) from accredited institutions, since accelerated BSN programs allow them to complete all requirements in 18 to 21 months.)
While nursing instructors had previously believed that the ADN degree was likely to be phased out, the fact is that some 66 percent of current nursing graduates complete training programs resulting in the ADN or Associate of Science (AS) degrees. These Associate degrees continue to provide health care facilities with capable nurses who can manage patient care. As insufficient numbers of nurses are graduated from four-year BSN programs each year to meet the needs of the health care industry, two-year Associate degrees are expected to remain important for some time to come.
However, BSN programs prepare graduates more effectively to make critical patient care decisions and to question doctors when orders appear inappropriate. The education provided in a BSN program is more focused on critical thinking, exposing students to more people and cultures, and enhancing the skills required for nursing management. They also offer more opportunities to improve skills in patient assessment and provide a greater examination of disease pathophysiology. Nurses who have the BSN degree will also have an easier time winning faculty teaching positions and high-level administrative jobs.
In summary, ADN programs usually cost less and take less time to complete, so graduates can begin working in the field more quickly. BSN graduates have more chances to advance to higher positions in the health care industry, and they are better prepared to take an advanced nursing degree – to become a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist, for example – if they decide to do so. There are many innovative choices for online nursing degrees in today’s digital world. Many traditional and prestigious schools now offer their nursing degrees online.
My-nursing-career offers listings of online nursing degrees with no admissions waiting list. You can graduate in less time at about half the cost of traditional nursing schools. You can also find a complete list of nursing degrees offered throughout the United States.