Depending on their aims and future career plans, students can choose the associate-degree level of nursing education or the baccalaureate-degree level. The levels differ in various aspects: the duration of the study, competencies that the nurse will have after he or she graduates, tasks that he or she will have to complete, appropriate technical training, etc. The paper aims to highlight the differences and provide an example of how nursing care might change in a clinical setting depending on the nurse’s level of educational preparation.
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AD vs. BD: Comparison of Competencies
One of the main differences that should be stressed is the time necessary to pursue an ADN or a BSN degree. The student will need two years to complete his or her education at the associate-degree level, while for the baccalaureate-degree level, he or she will need four years (Nightingale College, n.d.). It should be noted, however, that some educational facilities can transfer credits earned at the associate-degree level to the bachelor’s program (Capella University, 2017). Furthermore, when students decide to choose the AD level, they can either enroll in a program that is dedicated to acquiring specific skills in a particular area, while other types of AD do not require students to choose a major. The baccalaureate degree implies that the student will select a major and complete a work dedicated to the problem in this area. Nevertheless, students at the baccalaureate-degree level also complete two years of general education (Capella University, 2017).
The ADN allows a student to work in the technology industry or provide nursing care, care for and educate families, keep and review medical histories, etc. Compared to a nurse with a BSN degree, an ADN nurse cannot have as many leadership responsibilities or work as an educator. Furthermore, some employers (for example, hospitals with a magnet status) prefer to hire nurses with the BSN rather than ADN degree, since it is believed that the former are more thoroughly trained and have suitable skills to provide care in such hospitals. This being said, it would be incorrect to assume that BSN nurses offer more care than nurses with the ADN degree (Nightingale College, n.d.). Nurses with BSN have more training and can provide more critical decision-making due to their educational background; one study found that hospitals that employ nurses with BSN have a 10% decrease in inpatient mortality (Nightingale College, n.d.).
One should keep in mind that students who pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing attend management, public health, and leadership courses, which directly affect their future career opportunities. BSN emphasizes the importance of critical skills in the nurse and his or her ability to mentor, consult, and collaborate with diverse populations. Additionally, leadership training can help the nurse with the BSN choose an administrative or a teaching position later (Nightingale College, n.d.). If the student wants to pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate, a bachelor’s degree is necessary; without it, the student will not have the opportunity to advance his or her educational level.
Although a person with an associate degree can transfer to the bachelor’s degree later, without it, he or she can work as “a dental assistant, licensed practical nurse, cosmetologist, computer programmer,” etc. (Capella University, 2017). Positions in accounting, business, administration, and education require a BSN. Furthermore, a nurse with an associate degree will compete with nurses with a bachelor’s degree for a position where the employer might prefer the latter.
Patient Care Situation
A situation that can illustrate the competencies of associate-degree level and bachelor-degree level nurses will focus on the patient’s perceived inconvenience of the hospital environment. A 75-year old patient who was hospitalized after a fall at home was diagnosed with an ankle fracture. The patient claims that the stairs linking the hospital corridors prevent him from leaving the hospital room. He is also afraid that he might trip on the stairs again and break another bone. A nurse with an associate degree can record the patient’s complaints and share them with the nurse leader or hospital’s administration. A nurse with a bachelor’s degree as a leader can advocate for patient’s rights and encourage hospital administration to take action. Additionally, the nurse leader can also outline a policy that would state what exact changes are necessary for the hospital to prevent potential falls in patients with limited mobility. The BSN nurse can later lobby these changes, explaining their benefits both to other nurses working in the unit and to the hospital administration.
As can be seen from this example, BSN nurses have more opportunities to affect and take part in the administrative life of the hospital, while ADN nurses are responsible for providing nursing care, working with equipment, and educating patients. A patient-centered approach is essential for any hospital (Haley, 2017). In this case, an ADN and a BSN nurse would have different capabilities to make provided care more patient-centered.
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Compared to the BSN nurses, ADN nurses have fewer opportunities in education, administration, management, and leadership. Nevertheless, the study at the associate-degree level is quicker, less costly, and allows the nurse to work in a technical industry. Many hospitals might prefer BSN nurses to ADN nurses as the former has more educational experience and are better trained for some of the tasks. Although critical-thinking skills are essential for both levels, they are specifically emphasized at the baccalaureate-degree level.
Capella University. (2017). 5 differences between an associate’s and bachelor’s degree. Web.
Haley, B., Heo, S., Wright, P., Barone, C., Rettiganti, M. R., & Anders, M. (2017). Relationships among active listening, self-awareness, empathy, and patient-centered care in associate and baccalaureate degree nursing students. NursingPlus Open, 3(1), 11-16.
Nightingale College. (n.d.). The real differences between ADN and BSN nurses. Web.