August 4, 2013
Educational Preparation of a Nurse: BSN vs ADN
Nurses have several different options regarding their education. Since the 1950’s collages have offered entry level baccalaureate nursing programs to entry level students (Creasia & Friberg, 2011). Nursing shortages began to rise postwar years and this lead into the development of 2-year associate degree nursing programs. Mildred Montag proposed these programs and after a 5 year study of graduates from an associates program, the program was deemed successful. Funding for the program was secured in 1964 and community colleges began opening AD programs at an astonishing rate (Creasia & Friberg, 2011). The associate degree programs made it more accessible for men, women with families, older graduates, and other atypical students to attend the program. Nursing shortages were minimized in 1970s and 1980s due to the addition of the AND programs, and today associate nursing programs are the major entry point into nursing (Creasia & Friberg, 2011). In 2008 the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) conducted a survey that revealed nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession with more than 3 million registered nurses nationwide. 50% of the RNs in the workforce hold a baccalaureate or graduate degree while 36.1% hold an associate degree (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012).
On paper a BSN nurse and an ADN nurse look very similar. They both take the same licensure exam, they both are licensed with the same scope of practice, and at the end of the day they are both Registered Nurses. So what exactly is the difference between the two? Is one better than the other? Statistics have shown that nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level have lower mortality rates. An article published in 2008 in Health Services Research found that nursing level was linked with patient outcomes (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012). “Baccalaureate nursing programs encompass all of the course work taught in associate degree diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012). The additional education to baccalaureate prepared nurses allows them to have a broader perspective regarding patient care. A survey conducted in 2001 in the Journal of Nursing Administration, 72% of nursing directors identified differences in competency levels between the baccalaureate prepared nurse and the associate degree prepared nurse. Notable differences were the BSN prepared nurse had stronger critical thinking and leadership skills (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012).
Research has shown that RNs prepared with a baccalaureate degree have a stronger communication and problem solving skills. It has also been researched that RNs with an associate degree have stronger professional-level skills after completing a BSN program (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2012). Obtaining a BSN degree in the work force today is imperative as a nurse because not only does it make you more desirable to employers, it also develops an RN to have enhance critical thinking skills, problem solving, communication, which all have effects on patient outcomes.
Patients in the hospital setting are often times critically ill patients. I work on a cardiopulmonary floor and for the most part the patients are stable however in the past few weeks we have had to call many rapid responses which have ended up in patients being transferred to the ICU. As a new nurse to the floor I have been observing the associate degree nurses and the baccalaureate