For decades, an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) has been the standard credential for aspiring nurses looking to start their careers. However, is that changing? With more employers seeking BSN-educated nurses, and more states supporting the BSN-in-10 initiative, many hopeful RNs may be wondering, “Is getting an associate degree in Nursing worth it after all?”
If you are considering becoming a Registered Nurse, you have likely spent some time researching your degree options. Today, you can pursue an associate degree in Nursing, or a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) before starting to work in the field. Both educational paths will qualify you to take the NCLEX-RN examination, become licensed to practice, and work successfully in a clinical healthcare setting.
Are both degrees “worth it” for aspiring nurses? Yes. Is one degree more “worth it” than the other? Well, that depends on two things: your career goals, and your eagerness to start working in the field. For those who have the time to commit to four years in school, and who may desire an advanced position in nursing, a BSN degree program may be the preferred path for you. However, for those who wish to get into the workforce fast, and lay the foundation for their nursing career now, an associate degree in Nursing is really the best first step.
What Employers Think
Today, there is a shortage of nurses in the United States. Nurses are critical to patient care, and some of the most respected members on the healthcare team. With the aging baby boomer population and the number of nurses soon to retire, though, the demand for qualified nurses is growing more than ever. According to a study citing the American Nurses Association (ANA), there will be more registered nursing positions available through 2022 than any other profession in the United States.
So, what’s this all mean? It means that there are jobs out there for aspiring nurses, regardless if you have a BSN or ADN in hand. Yes, it is true that many employers in the nursing field are now requiring a bachelor’s degree of their nursing staff. Connecticut healthcare employers, for example, are looking to have an 80% BSN workforce by the year 2020. And some nursing positions – such as those in schools, and in the military – require applicants to have a BSN degree, at minimum.
However, many hospitals nationwide are hiring Registered Nurses with an associate degree in Nursing, which again, is the standard requirement for entering the field. Some hospitals will encourage or require nurses to eventually earn a BSN down the road, and may even reimburse you for some of the cost.
Studies show there are many benefits of a BSN degree, including advanced skillsets and high-quality of care that BSN-educated nurses provide. BSN nurses also qualify for many advanced positions in the field, and may earn higher pay for the greater investment in their education. However, if you are set on earning your associate in Nursing right now, this doesn’t hold you back from growth. There are flexible programs that make it easy for you to take your ADN to a BSN, if and when you are ready.
The Benefit of an Associate Degree in Nursing
As noted above, getting an associate degree in Nursing does not mean you are limiting yourself. Rather, you are setting yourself up for success in many ways – For one, an ADN will qualify you to take the licensing exam and start working in the field within two years’ time, putting you a step ahead other aspiring nurses pursuing a four-year bachelor’s degree. By starting work, you can get out there, begin building connections in the workforce, and start working with patients in need.
Then, when you are ready, you will be eligible to pursue an RN-to-BSN program, if you wish. An associate degree in Nursing lays the groundwork for future education, if you decide that’s a step you’d like to take. There are RN-to-BSN programs out there, that are designed for already-working nurses with a busy schedule. Goodwin’s RN-to-BSN degree, for example, can be obtained entirely online. This means you can work your shifts, take care of your family, and take classes from the comfort of your own home. The RN-to-BSN program can also be completed in a part-time or full-time format. At Goodwin, RNs can complete their BSN degree in just 16 months part-time, and even faster full-time.
Is an associate degree in Nursing going to be worth it for you? Let’s recap the benefits:
- You can earn an associate degree and become a licensed RN in about 2 years
- You can gain essential work experience in the field sooner than others
- You can also start building connections in nursing, and with patients, sooner
- You can save money by earning an associate, rather than a four-year degree
- You can set yourself up to earn a BSN (more quickly) down the road, and your employer may even help with tuition costs
Whether an associate degree in Nursing or a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing is calling your name, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to a nursing education. In both level programs, you will gain clinical experience, nursing theory knowledge, and prepare for a career in patient care. If you would like to learn more about Goodwin College’s on-campus and online nursing programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call 877-889-3282 or visit us online for more information.
Goodwin College is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin College was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.