There are three degree paths toward becoming a registered nurse. Each path has its advantages and disadvantages. Here we will discuss these paths and help you decide which degree is the best for your particular nursing career goals.
Nursing Degrees: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (AND) is often looked as a stepping stone degree toward getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The associate degree is a two-year program that focuses on technical skills and is offered by community colleges, technical schools, junior colleges and vocational schools. Graduates can become registered nurses (RN) and can immediately apply for jobs as a staff nurse. The associate degree allows nursing students to begin making good money sooner than with a four year Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. Requirements may vary some from school to school but generally students must study and pass a core curriculum.
When finances are an issue, an associate degree is a great, more affordable way to get your foot in the door. The institutions offering the programs are readily available, offer cheaper tuition, flexible schedules, online courses, a faster path to making money in nursing and opportunities to continue education toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. If your situation warrants it your may want to consider an Associate of Science Degree in Nursing.
Nursing Degrees: A Nursing Diploma
If you can meet the entry requirements, you may qualify to enter into a nursing diploma program. Hospitals, colleges and universities may offer nursing diploma programs. Work or volunteer experience in hospitals and other care facilities may help you get accepted into a program.
Admission requirements and length of the program for a diploma in nursing are mostly up to the institution. Three years is typical. A common scenario is a cooperative program between a community college and a local hospital. Any prerequisites can be obtained from the college.
When it comes to finding a job, there is little difference between having a diploma in nursing and an associate degree in nursing. It is not usually a barrier to advancement. One can always choose to pursue a degree down the road.
Nursing Degrees: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
Employers look for nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and for certain position require the degree. When you look at job ads for nursing, you will see that a BSN is required for many positions. If you are looking to rapidly advance your career and increase your salary, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing may be the way to go. In addition to technical skills, management and leadership are part of the training for a BSN.
The two most common paths to a BSN are RN to BSN and those starting out fresh. The RN to BSN programs are for registered nurses with associate degrees in nursing or diplomas in nursing looking to advance their careers. Those starting out fresh are pretty much like any other four-year college student – they will start out with liberal arts requirements and focusing more on nursing as the program progresses.
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