If you’re considering a career in nursing, now is the time. Registered nurses are currently in very high demand — so much so that some employers are offering big incentives to new hires. In fact, the nursing field is growing at more than double the pace of the U.S. job market overall.
Before picking a nursing program, it’s important to take a look at the different degree paths leading to nursing. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the differences between a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), and the benefits of a BSN.
Which Degree Path Is Right for You?
By far, ADN degrees and BSN degrees are the two most common degree paths toward becoming a registered nurse, and each has its benefits.
For the prospective nursing student without any college experience, an ADN degree program offers an initially quicker path to nursing, allowing you to become an RN in around two years. A traditional baccalaureate nursing program, on the other hand, takes about four years to complete — though as we’ll soon discuss, that extra time spent in school will likely pay off in greater opportunities. Not to mention, an RN with an associate’s degree will probably be asked to go back to school to earn a BSN in the not-so-distant future. (More on that in a bit.)
However, for those who already have college experience or a non-nursing degree, an Accelerated BSN program may allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing in less time than it takes to earn an ADN degree. This means that not only will you be able to start working as a nurse sooner, you’ll do so with a more valuable degree.
To understand why a Bachelor of Science in Nursing offers greater opportunities, we need to take a look at the impacts of a changing healthcare landscape on the nursing profession.
Making Sense of a Changing Healthcare Landscape
Today, the vast majority of registered nurses hold a BSN degree or higher, reflecting a growing trend toward higher education. Obviously, this isn’t to say that every RN starts out with a BSN degree; however, the percentage of RNs entering the workforce with an associate’s degree is declining.
Why? Industry pressure is one major factor in the shift toward BSN degrees. When the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued its landmark report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, in 2010, it set off a tidal wave of change. In its report, the IOM stressed that a more educated nursing workforce is required to best serve the needs of patients in a rapidly evolving healthcare environment.
Thus the 80% by 2020 initiative was born. The goal of this initiative is for 80% of registered nurses to hold, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree in nursing by the year 2020. The impact of this initiative was quickly felt throughout the industry, with many healthcare providers requiring their RNs without BSN degrees to earn them within a certain amount of time. In fact, for a hospital to receive a Magnet® designation, all of its nurse managers and nurse leaders must have at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
The Benefits of a BSN Degree
Given the growing emphasis on higher education, it’s easy to see how one of the biggest benefits of a BSN degree is, simply, eligibility for employment. As hospitals and healthcare providers push their current RNs to earn their BSN degrees, they’re also becoming more selective about hiring only candidates who already hold BSN degrees.
This does not mean ADN-holders will not be able to find jobs. Not every provider is going to hire BSN degree-holders exclusively, nor will every provider have the luxury to hire only RNs with associate’s degrees. However, in a field increasingly populated by BSN degree-holders, a baccalaureate degree will make you more competitive. It’s also entirely possible that at some point in the not-so-distant future, all nurses will be required to hold a BSN degree. (New York, for example, has already moved to require new nurses to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree within 10 years of initial licensure in order to continue working in the state.)
Additionally, to be eligible for promotion beyond an entry-level RN position, many organizations, including the Veterans Administration and the United States Armed Forces, are requiring a BSN degree. Not to mention that the American Nursing Association requires that all nurse managers must have a BSN degree.
What Does a BSN Earn on Average?
Then there’s the issue of pay. Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for a registered nurse in Michigan is $69,120. However, that doesn’t account for the differences in pay between BSN- and ADN-degree holders.
According to PayScale, while an RN with ADN and BSN degrees will likely start out similar in pay (with the BSN making around $59,736 compared to $59,721 for the ADN), the RN with the BSN will see his or her pay increase faster and by a greater amount than the RN with the ADN. For example, an RN with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and five to nine years experience can expect to make about $74,371 compared to just $66,326 for an RN with the same level of experience and an associate’s degree.
Of course, it’s not all about greater opportunities and earning potential — though who could blame you for taking these important factors into account? After all, one of the key findings of the IOM report behind the 80% by 2020 initiative was that more nurses with BSN degrees mean better patient outcomes.
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing agrees with these findings, citing a number of studies showing that having more nurses with BSN degrees results in reduced patient mortality and failure-to-rescue rates. Studies have also found that nurses with Bachelor of Nursing degrees tend to have higher job satisfaction levels than RNs who do not have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Nursing in the News
RNs are in such high demand that some hospitals are offering five- and even six-digit signing bonuses, as well as other great benefits, such as free housing, according to CNN Money.
Whether it’s higher pay, greater job opportunities, better patient outcomes, or all of the above that matter to you most, it’s clear that the benefits of a BSN outweigh any initial convenience provided by earning an associate’s degree in nursing.
Earn Your BSN from Madonna University in as Few as 16 Months
If you have at least 60 credits from a regionally accredited college or university and meet the additional program requirements, you may be eligible to enroll in Madonna University’s Accelerated BSN (ABSN) program. Blending the convenience of online learning, hands-on skills and simulation labs, and clinical rotations at some of the area’s top healthcare facilities, we designed our accelerated baccalaureate nursing program to prepare you for a future in nursing. Offering three start dates each year and no waitlist to get in, you can earn your BSN degree and be ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) in as few as 16 months with our ABSN program in metro Detroit. To find out more, give one of our admissions representatives a call at 844-319-2107, or fill out the form to have someone call you.