Associates and Bachelor Nursing Differences


Differentiating between the competencies of associate-degree (ADN) level nurses and baccalaureate-degree (BSN) can be hard because both levels of preparation require dedication, passion, as well as imply the passing of the same licensing examination – NCLEX RN (American Association of College of Nursing, 2015). Nevertheless, there are still some significant differences that should be taken into consideration when exploring the competencies of ADN and BSN nurses. The key differences between the two are linked to the degree of quality provided to patients and the educational curriculum that was used for preparing nurses for their future practice.

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Associate Versus Baccalaureate Preparation

When it comes to the associate-degree nursing curriculum, it takes students two years to complete in order to acquire all necessary clinical and technical skills that will be used in their future practice (Institute of Medicine, 2011). ADN training programs are targeted at teaching future nurses how to perform qualified assignments and responsibilities associated with direct patient treatment. Importantly, such programs can serve as groundworks for more advanced academic options in nursing such as master’s or bachelor’s (Exercise Science Guide Staff, 2017). Overall, ADN is considered the fastest and most efficient way for students to get into the nursing field and start their practice. For many people, ADN programs are the most viable options because they require less time and make it easier for students to start earning a living from nursing practice.

Baccalaureate-degree programs last four years because they build new knowledge upon the clinical and technical skills that the associate degree has provided. Thus, such programs provide additional training and preparation for jobs in the nursing field that can range from research to fiscal duties. BSN programs also offer more opportunities for nurses to advance their careers; for instance, without completing a baccalaureate-degree program, a nurse cannot be accepted into a master’s program that can prepare professionals for such specializations as clinical nurse leaders, anesthetists, and so on (“Requirements to become a clinical nurse,” 2017). Overall, more specialized nursing jobs favor BSN programs.

It can be concluded that nurses prepared by ADN and BSN will have different approaches to critical thinking, leadership, collaboration, and management techniques because baccalaureate-prepared nurses usually receive a higher level of expertise in their field and, therefore, can base their decisions on a higher level of expertise.

Patient Care Scenario

As mentioned in the document “Grand Canyon University College of nursing and healthcare professions philosophy,” baccalaureate-based nursing practice is concerned with guiding professionals’ actions by critical thinking, assessing, effective communication and collaboration, leadership, and teaching. Associate-degree prepared nurses depend more on following specific steps and procedures, memorizing symptoms and signs, as well as being proficient in physiology and anatomy. Such a difference between the two levels of preparation can be explained with the example of a patient care situation.

A possible scenario that can show the difference between ADN and BSN-prepared nurses may occur in a labor and delivery setting. For instance, a pregnant patient had increased blood pressure before the pregnancy but tried following a healthy diet and an exercise plan that would eliminate the need for taking medication. During labor, the patient showed increased levels of blood pressure, which was a problem that had to be managed. From the perspective of an ADN-prepared nurse, the management of the issue should imply the ordering and dispensation of blood pressure medication because during their training they were taught to look at the signs and symptoms and treat them accordingly. However, a BSN nurse will look at the situation from a different angle and will not only read the patient’s symptoms but will also pay attention to whether the pregnant woman is uncomfortable or anxious. A BSN nurse will ask the patient whether she is experiencing any pain and offer pain relief medication because it can also contribute to the stabilization of blood pressure. Also, in contrast to an ADN practitioner, a BSN nurse is expected to assess the patient’s emotional well-being and ask whether there are any concerns. If the patient reports mental distress due to an argument with a relative or because of the immense pressure of becoming a mother very soon, a BSN nurse will advise the patient to remain in a quiet environment with the support of only those people whom she would like to see. In combination with painkillers, the improved emotional well-being is expected to normalize the patient’s blood pressure and facilitate stable and successful labor and delivery.

The presented scenario showed that ADN nurses were less likely to look beyond the surface of a problem because they usually followed a sequence of procedures targeted at stabilizing a patient’s condition in a clinical sense. BSN nurses, on the other hand, are also trained to pay attention to how a patient feels in an emotional sense because mental distress can often influence physical outcomes. The fact that the BSN nurse asked the patient in labor about possible arguments or overall anxiety showed that the professional looked beyond the surface of a problem and used appropriate methods of managing the situation.

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American Association of College of Nursing. (2015). Fact sheet: Creating a more highly qualified nursing workforce. Web.

Exercise Science Guide Staff. (2017). Difference between ASN and BSN nursing degrees. Web.

Institute of Medicine. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Requirements to become a clinical nurse. (2017). Web.

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