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ADN versus BSN: Which Should You Choose?

Higher Education Articles July 7, 2013

While getting an associate degree in nursing may be cheaper than getting a bachelor degree in nursing, the additional opportunities and benefits that come with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may make it the better option. If you are looking to make nursing a career, both an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and BSN will give you the foundations you need. On the surface, both nurses with an ADN and a BSN start out at the same level of pay and responsibility, but a BSN will offer more career options and the potential for advancement in your career.

Beyond Hospitals and Long-Term Care

Most people, when asked to think of a nurse, immediately have a mental image of nurse in a hospital setting. While a significant portion of nurses work in hospitals and long-term care settings, nurses are not limited to those places of employment. Nurses with a BSN have the option of working in other settings, such as schools, community health facilities, administrative offices and pharmaceutical companies. You are also not confined to bedside care. Most nurses with a BSN find work in nursing research, case management, home nursing care, and working as a military nurse or even training others to become certified nursing assistants.

Choosing a Specialty

As a nurse with a BSN rather than an ADN, you also have more opportunities to choose a specialty area of nursing. Once you have determined what area you would like to specialize in (pediatrics, cancer, etc.) your BSN will help you enroll in an advanced degree program to obtain a master’s or doctorate in nursing. From there, you can pursue an advanced degree career such as a nurse practitioner in your area of specialty. Without getting an advanced degree, you may be able to use your BSN to obtain a position overseeing other RNs in a particular area of the hospital or facility in which you work.

Getting Your ADN First

For some getting your ADN, finding a job and then starting to work on your BSN may be the most financially-sound decision. Since nurses with ADNs and BSNs typically start out in the same positions, earning the same amount of money, you can start building experience in the nursing field while going back to school to obtain your BSN. In addition, most jobs offer tuition reimbursement programs to help nurses obtain their BSNs, so you could potentially get your BSN without spending a lot of money upfront.

The BSN Edge

Regardless of whether you choose to get an ADN or BSN, registered nurses are in high-demand and with a median pay of $66,650, nursing is a stable career. However, if you plan to advance in your career and make nursing a lifelong occupation, you may earn more with a BSN. Employers will value your degree when it comes to offering raises and choosing candidates for managerial positions. Obtaining your BSN, instead of an ADN, may also provide you with more entry-level job opportunities, giving you choices when it comes to choosing a place of employment, rather than having to accept the first job you are offered.

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Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
  • Do you aspire to fulfill an evolving healthcare role as a highly-qualified nursing professional? GCU is the place for you.
  • RNs, pursue your BSN or MSN conveniently online, backed by the legacy of GCU's traditional campus.
  • GCU's bachelor's and master's programs prepare students to fill roles in direct care, management, health education and administrative disciplines.
  • The baccalaureate degree in nursing and master's degree in nursing at GCU are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Develop with hands-on practice, online and lab simulations and in depth peer discussions exploring best practices.
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Online Bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, Psychology, IT, Healthcare Management & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
  • Provide a range of campus experiences and services online including advising, tutoring, student community, and career services
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities (beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities.
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WUSCUC).
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
3 Program(s) Found
  • Summarize the roles, functions, and impacts of an effective healthcare manager.
  • Evaluate existing research using quantitative statistical tools to assist in healthcare management decision making.
  • Identify, evaluate, and respond to common types of healthcare ethical dilemmas.
  • Describe the value of personal and professional development, community service, and life-long learning in healthcare management.
  • Evaluate the impact of information systems and technology on healthcare processes and the securing of health information.
  • Analyze the strategic impact of human resource development and management on healthcare organizations.
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

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