bachelor’s vs associate degree in nursing

What’s the Difference Between an ADN and BSN Program?

If you are interested in a healthcare career that involves helping others – making a difference in the lives of patients – you may be perfect for the field of nursing. Nurses care for people in need on a daily basis. It is one of the most rewarding careers you can pursue, offering a lifetime of exciting and fulfilling experiences.

Nursing is also a field with plenty of opportunity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of registered nurses to grow 12% over the next several years – which is much faster than all occupations! Registered nurses (RNs) also earn a median annual salary of $71,730. Since nurses are needed all over the world, there is plenty of opportunity for travel and new experiences. They can work in a variety of settings and a variety of facilities. Whether you want to help care for newborn babies in a NICU unit of a hospital, have a soft spot in your heart for oncology patients, or have a personal interest in helping those with disabilities or mental health disorders, there is a specialty for you.

When deciding to become an RN, you may have a couple of options at the start. For one, where do you start? To become a registered nurse, you can pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN). Both paths are excellent choices and will qualify you to take the NCLEX-RN examination, become licensed to practice, and work successfully in a clinical healthcare setting. But what is the difference? Here, we will explain these two degree paths, what each program entails, and the career outcomes that might come as a result.

ADN Programs

If you are looking to jumpstart your career as quickly as possible, you may be considering taking the path of an Associate Degree in Nursing. While it’s true that more employers today are looking for nurses with their BSN degree, the ADN is also a great way to launch a nursing career. With an associate degree in nursing, you can sit for the licensing exam and begin working in the field within two years’ time, putting you ahead of the competition going for the four-year degree. By jumping into the workforce faster, you can build your resume, gain hands-on experience, boost those important networking contacts, and start helping patients in need of care. You can always earn your BSN degree later on!

Many career-focused colleges today offer an ADN program with flexibility. The Associate Degree at Goodwin College, for example, may be completed in as little as 20 months part-time. Classes are offered days and evenings, and clinical experiences with day, night, and even weekend options available. The courses offered in the ADN program include, but are not limited to:

  • Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Microbiology
  • Lifespan Development
  • Nursing Skill Development
  • Adults and Wellness Continuum I
  • Adults and Wellness Continuum II
  • Families and the Wellness Continuum
  • Integration of Nursing Practice: Adults with Complex Health Problems

Graduates of the ADN program often go on to pursue nursing careers they love, in settings such as:

  • Community Health Centers
  • Doctors’ Offices
  • Home Health Care Services
  • Hospice Facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Long-term Care Facilities
  • Nursing Supervision & Management
  • Occupational & Industrial Nursing

If and when you’re ready, you can decide to pursue an RN-to-BSN Degree. For many, the ADN program lays the groundwork for a nursing education and helps get them working in the field. This is one of its many benefits. There are RN-to-BSN programs, such as the one at Goodwin College, that are available to take completely online while you are working as a nurse. This means that you can earn your ADN, sit for the licensing exam, and maintain your career while building on your education and skillsets. You won’t have to miss shifts or sacrifice time with loved ones as you continue to work toward your goals. At Goodwin College, the RN-to-BSN program can be completed in as little as 16-months part time, or even faster if taken full time.

BSN Programs

Of course, if you have the four years to invest, or are already a licensed RN and looking to advance your career, a BSN program may be the right choice for you. Like many other states, Connecticut’s healthcare employers are looking to have an 80% BSN workforce by the year 2020. Some of those nursing jobs – such as those in schools, and in the military – actually require applicants to have a BSN degree, at minimum. Now, there are a few types of BSN degree programs you can consider, depending on where you are at in your schooling and career:

  • Four-year BSN programs are available for those just starting out in nursing
  • RN-to-BSN programs are a great fit for any RN who wants to advance their education after earning an associate degree (as noted above)
  • An accelerated BSN program (ABSN) is perfect for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another major, and are looking to change career paths and become a nurse without committing to years of school. The 60-credit program at Goodwin College, for example, may be completed in as little as 16-months full time.

Some of the more advanced courses you will find in a BSN program, such as Goodwin’s ABSN or RN-to-BSN program, include:

  • Health Assessment and Skill Development
  • Foundations of Professional Nursing
  • Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Clinical Nursing Leadership
  • And more

With a BSN degree in hand, you can take your pick of more job opportunities within the nursing field. Research shows you may also have greater earning potential, and more pull in advancing to higher positions within the nursing field. (Learn about advancing from an ADN to BSN here!)

However, an ADN program is also a great starting point for nurses who are ready to go and start making an impact in the world of patient care. The great news is, whichever path in nursing you decide to take, you can find opportunity – and soar – in this ever-growing field.

If you would like to learn even more about the ADN or BSN programs at Goodwin College, call 1-800-889-3282 or visit us online today.