Grand Canyon University: NRS 430V-0104
December 6, 2014
Associate Degree Nursing versus Bachelor Degree Nursing
This paper explores differences between nurses at an associate level and nurses at a bachelor degree level. Based on differences in educational and clinical requirements, it is important to recognize and identify distinctions for these two degree programs. This paper will use a patient care scenario that will foster ideas on the differences, if any, in the decision making process.
Associate versus Bachelor Degree: Difference in Competencies
Post World War II, the demand was increased for skilled nurses to care for the sick and injured. Due to this nursing shortage a nurse educator, Mildred Montag, created the Associate Degree level nursing program. Associate degree graduates helped the nursing shortage (Creasia & Friberg, 2011). The Nurse Training Act of 1964 provided funds to help open community and junior colleges at a fast rate which decreased the nursing shortage dramatically. Many Associate Degree nursing programs developed across the US (Haase, 1990). Today, these programs generally are two to three years in length with lesser general education courses needed to graduate. The associate level courses include the main curriculum and liberal art studies with fewer sciences needed. The program provides increased clinical rotations for the student to prepare for the workforce. Students are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) after requirements are met.
A Bachelor in Science Degree (BSN) is an academic degree in nursing principles. This program is generally four years in length. This program includes general education courses along with a nursing program. Most Bachelor programs require 24-32 hours of liberal arts to include ethics and humanities, along with 24-30 hours of advanced sciences (Meyer, 1997). After completion, nursing graduates are able to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). With the baccalaureate degree, nurses are prepared throughout all health settings to include outpatient, critical care, mental health, and public health. Within the Bachelor degree curriculum, it includes clinical, scientific, decision making to include preparation in community health, patient education, and nursing management and leadership (AACN, 1998). Both degree programs sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Does this mean that ADN is equally prepared? The NCLEX tests for minimally competency for basic nursing practice. Unlike the baccalaureate degree, associate degree nurses are not given that additional education to be fully equipped in the workforce with the same clinical, scientific, and decision making skills as a bachelor degree RN. The Associate Degree does provide students with massive hands on training to prepare the graduate. Both graduates are able to work in outpatient clinics, hospitals, ambulatory centers, dialysis centers, and many more. Bachelor Degree Nurses are able to occupy management positions in the nursing field more readily than an Associate Level Nurse (Matthias, 2010). A study published in The Lancet, titled “Nurse Staffing and Education and Hospital Mortality in Nine European Countries: A Retrospective Observational Study” was done that spanned over 9 European Countries and included 300 hospitals within the study that showed patient experiencing complications after surgery are more likely to live if being treated by baccalaureate level nurses (Aiken & Sloane, 2014).
Patient Care Scenario I consulted with a Bachelor Degree Nurse about the following patient scenario to determine if she would handle the situation the same way I handled it. Three patients came into the Emergency Department one morning. The first patient was 15 months old and has a rash extending from face to the trunk. The heart rate was around 160, low grade