Choosing which degree program to pursue to become a registered nurse can be challenging. An associate’s degree is the minimal degree required to work as an RN. For the most part, community colleges offer ADN degrees. Choosing the ADN route might be a desirable choice due to:
- Cost –Vocational schools and community colleges offer ADN programs and tend to be less expensive than four-year universities
- Time –Typically, ADN programs are considered “two-year” programs. This benefits those who hope to get out into the workforce as soon as possible. Vocational schools sometimes have “fast-track” ADN programs that allow students to attend school year-round, while other schools have winter or summer breaks.
- Personal Goals –Many student nurses are content working as bedside nurses, and not necessarily wanting to pursue advanced-degree nursing or management, which would require a BSN to start. Or, the student may hope to become an advanced-practice nurse, manager, or educator, but wishes to get started as soon as possible to build clinical skills and pursue a higher degree later.
Students who choose the BSN route can expect to spend around four years in school. Four-year universities also tend to have a higher tuition cost. However, students may choose the BSN path if:
- They are unsure if they’d like to pursue a higher degree at some point, but would like to earn a BSN to shorten future educational paths
- They ultimately would like to get into management, education, administration, or research
ADN vs. BSN is a topic many nursing students wonder about when choosing a program. There is no definitive answer as to which is “better,” as organizations differ in their requirements. RN positions will usually state which degree is the minimum requirement, and some may indicate a “BSN is preferred.” Some organizations will hire ADN nurses, but require them to obtain a BSN after hire. Some will also assist with the cost of a BSN program. Today, RN to BSN programs are quite common and make obtaining higher nursing education easier than ever. Students are encouraged to research nearby organizations to identify the hiring requirements for RNs.
As far as clinical ability, many would argue there is no difference between an ADN nurse and BSN nurse who are performing the same bedside-nurse job. However, some would say that BSN nurses are more efficient, well-rounded, and better prepared for the RN role. These perceptions are difficult to prove, as they are subjective. Many ADN nurses can work circles around BSN nurses, and vice-versa-it depends on the nurse.
Whether a student chooses an ADN or a BSN program, it’s important to recognize which is in demand in their nearby facilities or organizations that they hope to work for. It’s also essential to ensure that whichever degree they decide to pursue is earned from an accredited institution.
Will I Be Able to Find an RN Job Without a BSN Degree?
For now, yes. The demand for registered nurses is very high and healthcare facilities need ADN-educated nurses to fill the demand.
However, the nursing shortage has been in effect for years, and to help fill the void, a call for more nurses to enter the field has been heard and responded to in massive numbers. Many, many nursing students have completed nursing programs and have entered the field of nursing, and many more are in the process of doing so. This is creating a shift for the hiring managers of healthcare facilities.
Healthcare facilities are now privileged to have a large number of qualified registered nurses to interview and hire. This allows managers to be more selective and choose candidates who have higher levels of education or a strong desire to earn a Bachelor’s degree within a few years of employment. In addition to this, many healthcare organizations are beginning to use the BSN as a minimum qualification for the RNs they hire. In short, ADN-educated RNs are absolutely able to find jobs in the field, but they may find employment options more limited than their BSN-educated counterparts, and this may become a more prominent trend going forward.