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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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