Nurses’ Educational Preparation

Nowadays, the importance of academic education keeps growing every year. Regarding nursing, it is also considered necessary for every nurse to acquire at least the bachelor level before starting to work. However, getting an associate degree and gaining professional experience after it often occurs to be more efficient for a nurse’s competency.

Although, unlike associate-degree, the baccalaureate level is widely thought to be crucial for the nurses, there is little difference between them as the most significant factor of the nurses’ competencies is their professional experience and skills.

Undoubtedly, there are some differences between an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Firstly, the significant difference lies in the duration of education – in the case of ADN, the student needs around 18-24 months to complete the course, and when it comes to a BSN, this number goes up to 4 years. Secondly, although both ADN and BSN curriculums are to provide students with necessary nursing skills, BSN also emphasizes such disciplines as management, human resources, leadership, physical and social sciences, etc. In other words, BSN aims to prepare many-sided professionals with leadership potential while ADN concentrates on the preparation of professional nurses with a skill set restricted by the area of their daily routine. Thirdly, it is necessary to analyze the salaries and career opportunities for the ADN and BSN graduates. Surprisingly, but the wage rate for the nurses with ADN and BSN does not differ a lot – primarily, it depends rather on the nursing competencies than on a degree. Regarding career opportunities, there is a slight difference – sometimes, nurses with BSN can have a wider round of duties than nurses with ADN, but ultimately, the degree does not seem to be the main factor of an upward move in a nursing career (Ericksen, 2016).

Although there are some significant differences between ADN and BSN, it is hardly possible to claim that nurses with a BSN will necessarily perform better in the workplace than employees with ADN. As well as BSN nurses, ADN nurses are able “to promote health, wellness, safety and quality care” for their patients (“A Mission to Advance Health Care,” 2016). First of all, a degree by itself cannot be considered equivalent to the in-depth knowledge of a subject. It is possible that a nurse with BSN will not manage to discharge the nursing daily duties while a nurse with ADN will easily perform in a sphere of leadership and personal management. Undoubtedly, it is not a degree but employees’ skills and personal identity that define what sort of job they are capable of doing. Both BSN and ADN provide a graduate with the same specialization – a registered nurse (RN); all other factors of competency including the acquirement of indispensable skills and professional experience depend only on a graduate himself/herself. More than that, it is possible to suggest that nursing refers to so-called “practical specializations” for which working experience is crucial. Naturally, it would have been unfair to depreciate the role of academic training in vocational preparation, but what matters for nursing the most is a professional experience. Unfortunately, universities and colleges are sadly remembered by focusing on theory, not on practice. Furthermore, it is important to bear in mind that academic education often involves studying the disciplines that are not going to have a significant impact on the future employee’s knowledge and skills. Eventually, it is possible to conclude that competency of a nurse depends not on a degree but professional experience.

The real difference lies in social relation to a BSN (or to a bachelor’s degree in general) and ADN. Nowadays, the role of academic education keeps increasing from year to year. According to the evaluations of the Institute of Medicine, the number of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce will increase to 80% by 2020 On one hand, this news can be considered to be positive. In colleges and universities, BSN nurses get useful skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion – without any doubt, such a skill set will help them a lot in organizing their own and other nurses’ workflow (Rosseter, 2014). On the other hand, graduates and often their professors underestimate the significance of professional experience for every nurse – the experience that a nurse should start to gain since deciding to become an RN. As a result, the hospitals, health centers, schools can be overflowed with nurses who have in-depth knowledge in humanities and personal management but hardly know how to act if a patient experiences asystole.

It is possible to come up with the following example to prove the statement mentioned above. There are two nurses: a BSN one and an AND one. They have a night shift in a hospital – the BSN nurse just graduated and got her first job after four years of studying while the ADN nurse studied only for two years and worked in a hospital for two years more. There is an alert, a car accident happened one hour ago – a bus driver fell asleep and crashed into the track, ten people died on the spot, thirty more are in critical condition. Evidently, when the patients are delivered to the hospital, the BSN nurse hardly will be able to avoid some perplexity and scare as it is not possible to compare theoretical lectures to a real-life experience. Meanwhile, there is a chance that the ADN nurse will stay calm, cold-minded and will perform competently as she will be prepared for such kinds of situations.

However, it is necessary to admit that the BSN nurses have an opportunity to perform better than ADN nurses in such spheres as human resources, for example, organizing the working process for all the staff of nurses. Undoubtedly, the BSN nurses gradually can reach the command positions.

Finally, it might be concluded that a bachelor’s degree cannot be considered to be crucial for a nurse’s competency. It is more efficient for a nurse to get an associate degree and start to gain professional experience immediately than to concentrate on acquiring a bachelor’s degree.


A Mission to Advance Health Care. (2016). Web.

Ericksen, K. (2016). Web.

Rosseter, R. J. (2014). The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice. Web.

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