ADN vs. BSN: Which Path Is Best to Become a Registered Nurse?
To become a registered nurse (RN), you can choose one of two paths: pursue an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN). You can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam to become an RN with either type of degree. So what’s the difference?
An associate degree usually takes only two years of school—it’s essentially the nursing-only part of a BSN degree. Meanwhile, a BSN degree program “is generally a four-year commitment up front but results in a higher academic credential—something hospitals across the country are seeking in greater numbers,” according to Rasmussen College.
Is a BSN worth it?
Determining if a BSN is worth it really depends on your career goals and life situation.
A BSN program typically includes more than just hospital-based training—it also incorporates training on leadership, management and administrative roles.
In addition, nurses with a BSN have been “linked to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates,” according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. And the Institute of Medicine recommends that at least 80 percent of the U.S. nursing workforce should hold a BSN by the year 2020.
So, an associate degree will get you into the job market faster, but a BSN degree will likely improve your career prospects in the long term. In fact, some nursing jobs require a BSN, some hospitals have a strong preference for hiring BSNs instead of ADNs, and nurses with a BSN degree typically earn a slightly higher salary.
Keep in mind that if you choose the ADN route, you can always complete your BSN later. Many colleges have BSN completion programs (also called an RN to BSN program) that you could participate in after entering the workforce, so you can complete your BSN while working.