Nursing school was established by Florence Nightingale in 1860 and since then the profession has grown tremendously. Today, there are different ways a person can obtain their registered nurse (RN) license. The majority of entry-level nurse positions are acquired as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). For a person to decide what path to go, one must understand the differences in competency in an associates degree nurse, baccalaureate degree nurse, and if they approach care differently.
Associates Degree Nurse Competency
A competency is described as “an expected level of performance that integrates knowledge, skills, abilities, and judgment” (American Nurses Association [ANA], 2008, p. 3). There are different ways nurses can assure competency. Those include National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), “continuing education (CE) for renewal of practice license, work-based orientation programs, and graduation from an accredited program of study”(Ludwick, 1999, p. 1). Both ADN and BSN take the same licensing exam (NCLEX), which proves that they have the minimum competency required to perform safe care. Associates degree in nursing was organized by Mildred Montag in 1952. The idea was to add clinical nurses to the workforce in response to the nursing shortage after World War II. It was designed to take two years in length, allowing nurses to be available to work sooner than going to a four years degree at university. An associate’s degree prepares the nurses to perform direct bedside care at any unit or facility. An associate degree level nurse has the ability to provide care with a focus on the clinical skills and it is more task-oriented. They learn all aspects of care from care planning, implementation and teaching.
Baccalaureate Degree Nurse Competency
On the other hand, the baccalaureate in nursing program started in 1909. It was designed as five years in length program, but now most are done in four academic years in length (Creasia & Friberg, 2011). The components that incorporate the BSN program are “liberal education, quality and patent safety, evidence-based practice, information management, health care policy and finance, communication/collaboration, clinical prevention/population health, and professional values” (American Association of College of Nursing [AACN], 2012, p. 1). It prepares professional nurses for acute care settings, community-based practice, and beginning leadership and management roles (Creasia & Friberg, 2011, p. 15). Although ADN nurses do require a certain level of critical thinking, it is not in depth as the BSN nurses. Baccalaureate-degree level in nursing provides a research base with great emphasis on critical thinking. Besides performing the same care as the ADN nurse, BSN nurses have a focus on the entire field of nursing. Baccalaureate-degree nurses are trained to provide health promotion, holistic views, moral and social influences. While ADN nurses provide care to the individual, a BSN nurse provides care not only to the individual, but also to their families and community. BSN uses evidence-based practice and research to improve patient care and leads to a higher quality of patient outcomes.
Approaching Care Differently
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