What is an ADN Degree in Nursing? [Complete Guide]

Registered nursing is one of the most rewarding career options available. In fact, recent research shows that almost 95 percent of Registered Nurses (RNs) today are happy in their chosen career path. Most nurses feel gratified by helping others in need, and having the ability to make a difference in their patients’ lives. Others are proud of their career, and enjoy the flexibility of the job. If you are considering a nursing career, you can look forward to many benefits – both personally and professionally. The question is, where do you begin?

Most Registered Nurses begin with an ADN degree program.

What is an ADN?

ADN is short for “associate degree in Nursing.”

An associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is the standard pathway taken to become a Registered Nurse. An ADN is also the minimum degree required to become a licensed RN. Those who complete an associate degree in Nursing are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, a board examination that grants licensure to RNs in the United States. An RN must be licensed in order to practice in the nursing field.

How Long is an ADN Program?

Typically, an ADN degree takes two years to complete, though some programs can be completed at a faster pace. For example, Goodwin’s associate degree in Nursing can be achieved in 20 months part-time after prerequisites. For newly aspiring nurses without prior experience or college education, an ADN is the fastest route towards a nursing degree.

What Classes are Required for an ADN?

The ADN curriculum is comprised of foundational nursing courses to prepare you for a career in patient care. While coursework will vary school to school, some common ADN classes include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Lifespan Development
  • The Foundations of Nursing
  • Nursing Skill Development
  • Health Assessment
  • The Wellness Continuum, across the age spectrum

In addition to your nursing courses, you can also expect to put your skills to practice in a real-life patient care setting. Aspiring nurses must complete experiential hours through clinicals prior to graduation. Clinicals give you the chance to observe working nurses and patient care in a healthcare environment, and provide hands-on experience (under real nurses) prior to entering a career.

What Can You Do with an ADN Degree?

With your ADN degree in hand, you can achieve a variety of entry-level positions in nursing. You may take on careers in hospitals, physician’s offices, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and more. You may work with children, the elderly, adults, and patients from all demographics. An associate degree in Nursing is the standard expectation among employers, and therefore will prepare you with the skills needed to effectively deliver patient care in all types of workplace environments.

ADN-educated nurses also have the option to pursue specializations within the nursing field. After earning your associate degree and RN license, for example, you may choose to become specialized in:

  • Critical Care
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Gerontological Nursing
  • Pain Management
  • Dialysis
  • And more!

In all workplace settings, there will be a need for Registered Nurses like you. In fact, the United States is currently facing a nursing shortage, and is in need of new, educated RNs to step up in all types of environments. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of Registered Nurses is expected to grow 9 percent between 2020 and 2030, with approximately 194,500 job openings each year. Employment growth is projected to be fastest in outpatient care centers, where patients do not stay overnight, as well as home health care and residential care facilities.

It is also worth noting that, in addition to qualifying for jobs with an associate degree in Nursing, you may also go back to school to pursue further education. Many nurses choose to earn their ADN degree, launch a career in nursing, and go back to school for their Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) after gaining some experience in the field.

What Do ADN Nurses Do?

Now that you understand your career potential with an associate degree in Nursing, you may be wondering what the average ADN nurse does on a daily basis. In general, nurses who have earned their ADN degree are qualified to provide patient care services to those who are sick, injured, and disabled. Specifically, ADN nurses can be found:

  • Assessing patient symptoms and medical history
  • Talking to patients about their conditions
  • Answering questions from patients or family members
  • Providing guidance on proper preventive healthcare, self-care, or at-home treatment
  • Monitoring and recording vital signs
  • Administering medications and treatments to patients in need
  • Recording patient information and delivering to physicians
  • Operating medical equipment
  • Performing diagnostic tests and analyzing their results
  • Collaborating with other nurses and doctors on treatment plans for patients

All in all, having an associate degree in Nursing will enable you to take on important tasks that are necessary to the daily operations of healthcare. Upon graduation, you will be ready to help patients in need and become an invaluable asset to their greater wellbeing.

How Does an ADN Compare to a BSN Degree?

As noted above, an ADN is the standard, entry-level award to get started in a nursing career. However, new nurses also have the option to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN). What is the difference?

A BSN degree is, traditionally, a four-year nursing program designed for new nurses entering the field. BSN degree programs cover similar topics to ADN programs, at least in the initial two years in school. However, BSN programs delve into more advanced topics in nursing during the final years, such as leadership in nursing and population health. This prepares BSN-educated nurses to take on advanced managerial careers after graduation. However, as assessed above, both ADN and BSN nurses can work in patient care settings, such as hospitals and healthcare clinics.

Due to the added investment in education, BSN-educated nurses may benefit from higher salary potential once in the workplace. According to PayScale, the average difference between the ADN and BSN salary is over $15,000 annually.

However, nurses who begin with their associate degree in Nursing have the unique advantage of entering the workforce early, and to start earning faster than those who commit to four-year BSN programs. What’s more, nurses with an associate degree can decide to go back to school for their BSN down the road and reap the benefits. Many nurses who desire to start working will complete their associate degree in Nursing and, once in a stable career, will pursue an RN-to-BSN program so that they can earn their BSN degree fast and flexibly. An RN-to-BSN program is an advanced nursing program that is designed for already-working RNs, and can be completed online in just 16 months part-time.

What are the Benefits of an ADN Degree?

The main benefit of an associate degree in Nursing is that it can prepare you for the workforce fast. You can become a nurse in two years or less with an ADN degree. It

An ADN is a comprehensive program that carries many benefits:

  • It provides the education and clinical training needed for a nursing career.
  • It prepares you to successfully complete the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.
  • It allows you to start making a comfortable living in just two years’ time. (Note: Registered Nurses make an average of $75,000 annually in the United States!)
  • By helping you into the workforce fast, an ADN also allows you to gain important experience that entry-level BSN nurses must wait for.
  • It qualifies you to pursue specializations in different areas of nursing, such as Ambulatory Care.
  • It also positions you, when you are ready, to pursue a Bachelor’s in Nursing if you desire.
  • An ADN is typically lower cost than a traditional BSN, as there is less time spent in school. This means you can earn your degree more quickly and without the added financial investment.

Are you ready to start the path towards your dream nursing career? Learn about Goodwin’s associate degree in Nursing (ADN) program by visiting us online here. You may also call 800-889-3282 to speak w