We received this question from one of our readers and thought it was an excellent question. Many people wonder if having just an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) will limit them in their career advancement as a nurse. Furthermore, they wonder if they should go ahead and get a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), and not worry about obtaining an associate’s degree.
First, you must be aware of the differences between an ADN and BSN degree. Please see our article on ADN vs. BSN degree for this information. The bottom line is, when comparing a nurse with an associate’s degree to a nurse with a bachelor’s degree, there is no difference in their scope of practice and both are required to perform the duties of a registered nurse. However, the ability to advance in your career may be limited if you just have an associate’s degree in nursing.
Employers are Encouraging Nurses to Go Back for their Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing (BSN)
Within the past 5 years, there has been a big push by employers to encourage their nurses with ADN degrees to go back and obtain a BSN degree. Many employers will pay them to obtain this, granted if the nurse agrees to work for them “x” amount of years. Now many universities are offering online RN-BSN programs, which make it easier to obtain.
Why are they pushing nurses to obtain BSN degrees?
The oblivious reason is because it makes the company look more prestigious if all their nurses have BSN degrees. Another reason is that the BSN nurse has taken more management type classes that has helped prepare them for the managerial role; hence career advancement along with more critically thinking courses. At the current hospital I work you must have at least a BSN degree to hold a nurse manager position, but just until recently they have been pushing for the nurse manager to have a MSN (master’s degree in nursing). In addition, depending on the hospital you want to work for some ICUs (intensive care units) will only hire registered nurses with BSN degrees due to their critically thinking skills they obtained in the BSN program.
Am I better Off Going for a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?
Depends. If you want to get bedside experience as a nurse and eventually move up in your career (become a nurse manager, go back to school for an advanced nursing degree, or teach) you should go straight for the bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, if you plan to work as a bedside nurse and not pursue career advancement an associate’s degree in the best option. It is quicker and slightly cheaper. Either degree type is worth it and totally depends on your plans for the future.