DIFFERENCES IN COMPETENCIES BETWEEN ASSOCIATE DEGREE LEVEL VERSUS BACCALAUREATE- DEGREE LEVEL NURSING There are three different types of programs that a student can pursue in order to become a Nurse. One can either go through the diploma program, the associate-degree nursing program or the BSN program. In this discussion, I will focus on the associate-degree nursing versus the baccalaureate-degree nursing, the type of education that is provided in each program, the required course work, the years of studies and differentiate between the associate degree nurses versus the Bachelor degree nurse. In order to earn an associate degree in nursing, one has to complete the required pre- requisite classes, then enroll in a college where he or she can study for two or three years and graduate with an associate degree. After the graduation, the person has to take the NCLEX-RN licensing examination and needs to pass it in order to be able to practice.
On the other hand, to become a bachelor degree nurse, the student has to complete 4 years of studies in a College or University. In comparison to courses thought at the associate level, the BSN courses are much broader and more in- depth in the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management and humanities. I must emphasize that the financial cost associated with the BSN program is considerably much expensive as compared to the cost involved in procuring an associate degree.
It is important to note that with the amount of education that is provided at BSN level, one can predict that students are well prepared to make a big difference in nursing especially when it comes to decision making and assuming administrative or leadership positions. BSN courses are designed to prepare nurses to be competent and ready to assume diverse nursing positions, and also administrative roles, that the Associate Degree Nurse may not be qualified to compete for. The need for well-trained and highly competent nurses has led to many hospitals hiring baccalaureate degree nurses more than the associate degree nurse who are considered to be only technical; that is providing bedside nursing care to patient. Due to changes that are occurring in the health care system, there is the call to increase the number of baccalaureate – prepared nurses in the workforce to 80%. By having highly educated nurses in the workforce, nurses will be able to meet the changing needs of patients and the demands in our contemporary healthcare system. Most hospitals are now encouraging their nurses to go back to school for baccalaureate degree. For instance, there is a hospital in Southern California that is recognized as one of the Nations Magnet hospital which has contracted with a University to help educate their RN nurses to obtain their BSN. This initiative is going to increase this hospital patients' outcome because they are going to have baccalaureate prepared nurses who are going to provide better patient care beyond bedside nursing and providing education to patient and families. Baccalaureate degree nurse being much competent than associate degree nurses earn 10 percent higher salaries than associate degree nurses.
A study by Dr. Christopher Friese and colleagues has proven that “nursing educational level has played a significant role when it comes to patient outcome, this study was done in a hospital where patients were undergoing surgery for cancer treatment.” The research proved that “baccalaureate degree nurses were associated with lower mortality and