There is currently a rise in demand for healthcare workers, making becoming a nurse a great career path. In order to care for the country’s aging population, especially with the increase of members of the baby boomer generation going into retirement, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that healthcare occupations are expected to see an addition of 2.4 million new jobs by 2026.
Just for registered nurses in particular, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 15% growth from 2016 to 2026, which means an addition of over 400,000 positions.
Clearly, the nursing career is on the rise and is showing no signs of slowing down in the near future.
If these facts about the industry excite you, and the idea of spending your life as part of a noble and rewarding profession appeals to you, then here’s how you can go about becoming a registered nurse. There are two possible avenues you can explore in terms of acquiring the educational qualifications you would need to enter the field as a professional:
- An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
These are both professional nursing programs that provide you with the knowledge, skill, and tools you need to succeed in the field of nursing. Let’s break down these two starting points for making your way up the nursing career ladder and see what each has to offer.
What can you do with an Associate's Degree in Nursing?
Before we get into the scope of an ADN and the difference between a Bachelor’s and Associate’s Degree in Nursing, let’s understand the ADN degree.
An associate degree is typically a two-year program – although it can be completed at a quicker rate based on how many hours you put in every day – that provides you with the basic education you need to become a qualified registered nurse. An associate’s degree from an accredited school is the minimum requirement you need to obtain a registered nurse license, and this is important since most, if not all, medical institutes seek registered nurses.
There are job opportunities available to a registered nurse with an ADN in a wide variety of medical organizations. Here are some popular medical verticals that typically hire nurses with associate’s degrees:
- Ambulance Services
- Long-term Facilities
- Doctor’s Offices
- Assisted Living Facilities
What can you do with a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing?
A BSN is a more comprehensive nursing course that spans across four years - teaching additional skills besides the basics of nursing, including leadership and management, research, chemistry, specialized care (genetics, critical care, infant care, rehabilitation and more), and critical thinking. This equips the candidate with a wider array of skills and allows them to explore more options in the medical caregivers field. Apart from being a registered nurse, you may qualify for these potential openings:
- Nurse Station Management
- Health Education
- Case Management
- Quality Coordination
- Specialized Nursing Vocations
- Medical and Health Services Management
Differences between ADN and BSN Nurses
Can you obtain a job with an Associate's in Nursing Degree? Absolutely. However, the avenues widen a bit if you decide on a BSN degree. There are also some medical institutions that require you to have a BSN degree, so it is important to have a clear objective in mind before deciding whether to pursue an ADN or BSN degree.
Conversely, a BSN takes a longer time to acquire and is typically more expensive than an ADN.
While it is advisable to consider earning a BSN at some point in your nursing career, you don’t have to pursue it immediately. Considering that many associate degree courses would count toward two of the four years of study required to earn a bachelor’s, you could fast-track your BSN program in the future and complete it in as little as two years. The degree choice is yours and it all depends on which path fits your needs. There are many fulfilling and challenging jobs that are open to you with both degree options.