ADN vs. BSN: Which Is Best to Become a Registered Nurse?

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Are you interested in becoming a registered nurse (RN)? We’ve compiled information to help you decide which path to take to achieve your dream.

ADN vs. BSN

ADN vs. BSN

To become a registered nurse, you can choose one of two paths: pursue an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). You can take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become an RN with either type of degree. So, what’s the difference?

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An associate degree usually takes only 2 years of school. It’s essentially the nursing-only part of a BSN degree. Meanwhile, a BSN degree program is generally a 4 year commitment but results in a higher academic credential, something hospitals across the country are seeking in greater numbers.

Is a BSN Worth It? – ADN vs. BSN

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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 usually incorporates training in leadership, management, and administration as well.

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In addition, those in nursing careers 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. The Institute of Medicine recommends that at least 80% of the US nursing workforce should hold a BSN by the year 2020.

ADN vs. BSN

An associate degree may get you into the job market faster, but a BSN degree may improve your career prospects in the long term. In fact, some nursing jobs require a BSN, while some hospitals have a strong preference for hiring BSNs instead of ADNs.

Nurses with BSN degrees typically earn slightly higher salaries as well.

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.

You can also get your BSN from accredited nursing programs online, which should help you to complete your BSN while working.

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Elizabeth Abner
WRITTEN BY Elizabeth Abner

Elizabeth is pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Foreign Policy and earned her master's degree in business administration. For her undergraduate studies, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration with a concentration in international business. Elizabeth's research is focused on universities offering online degree programs.