Nursing Associate Degree vs. Baccalaureate Degree | Free Essay Example

Nursing Associate Degree vs. Baccalaureate Degree

Words: 892
Topic: Health & Medicine


A strong academic background has a strong and important effect on all the fields of health science sin the modern times. It is the principal qualification requirement for all the professionals involved in the healthcare sector, including clinicians, physicians, laboratory technicians, biomedical specialists and pharmacists. To be a registered nurse (RN), three avenues are open for prospective candidates- a three-year nursing program offered and administered in hospitals, a three-year associate degree (ADN) offered and administered at community colleges and a four-year baccalaureate degree offered in universities and some senior colleges.

Noteworthy, all the individuals enrolled in the three programs are examined by the same body. What are the differences between these programs? The purpose of this paper is to focus on the differences between ADN and BSN degrees at the levels of academics and practice. It focuses on the differences in approach as well as the roles, experience and skills that each of the two types of nursing degree plan in the process of healthcare service delivery.

The Associate Degree Nursing (ADN)

Normally, the associate degree of nursing requires the nurses to undergo two to three years of training in nursing. In most cases, the program is offered at community colleges across the country.

Like the general field of nursing, ADN originated from the effects of war. In 1956, Mildred Montage, following the example of Florence Nightingale, saw the need to increase the number of nurses in the healthcare sector. After the world war, the number of sick people increased rapidly, overtaking the required number of nurses per a given population (Brown 2007). Due to the severity of the situation, Montage, a nurse educator, started training nurses based on a relatively shorter period than the previous programs (Miller, 2011). The aim was to reduce the shortage of nurses. According to Miller (2011), (2011), the success of the program was measured based on the level of satisfaction of the clinical nursing skills as well as the pass rate of the graduates in the NCLEX exams.

Baccalaureate degree nurses BSN

A BSN nurse must undergo four to five years of training in nursing. The program involves two years of general education and another three years of training in nursing programs.

Like the general nursing field and ADN, BSN was started immediately after the second war in response to the large number of injured and sick people and a low number of healthcare workers. According to Miller (2011), the program started in 1946 when the Congress debated and passed the GI Bill of Rights in order to allow war veterans to obtain a college education or a vocational training. When the bill was assented, it offered nurse in the military an opportunity to enroll in the available college in order to earn degrees in nursing. In particular, it allowed the nurses in the military to enroll for nursing administration and nursing education programs. With a rapid increase in the number of nurses willing to join the program, the authorities allowed universities to offer the same program.

Differences between ADN and BSN in terms of education

It is worth noting that some differences between the two programs exist in terms of the education offered to the nurses. For example, the BSN program includes all the courses that are offered at the diploma and ADN levels. BSN also includes some in-depth courses in social, sciences, nursing management, physical and humanities. The aim is to ensure that the BSN nurses improve their profession and obtain a wider scope of practice after graduation. They rate taught a wide range of skills in order to understand other factors that affect nurses and their patients, including religious, cultural, economic and social aspects of a society. Thus, BSN has a wider scope of the profession and education than ADN.

Differences in competencies

According to Finkelman and Kenner (2012), studies have revealed that highly qualified and educated nurses have a high probability of producing the best outcomes when handling patients in hospitals or within their communities. The study by McHugh and others in 2012 attempted to examine the effectiveness of nurses under the different programs to lower the number of patient deaths within 30 days (Finkelman & Kenner, 2012). It revealed that the rate of death within the specified time reduced rapidly when nurses with baccalaureate degree were involved in service delivery.

In addition, studies have shown that the level and scope of education increase the nurses’ ability to focus on a wide area of practice. For instance, nurses with BSN have the ability to focus on other issues beyond the patient condition, including issues related to social, cultural, economic and political factors that relate to their patients (Finkelman & Kenner, 2012).

Patient care situation

In this case, a 58-year old male named “NX” reports to a hospital setting with high blood pressure. His wife, Mrs. NX, reports that NX has consumed three cups black coffee and argued with his 22-year old daughter after she returns from a night out. The ADN nurse repeats the test on blood pressure before proceeding to the relevant medical intervention.

On the other hand, if the patient finds a BSN graduate nurse, the nurse will take the BP test and then start asking the patient and his wife some questions relating to their family, relationships at home, workplace, historical and economic aspects (Finkelman & Kenner, 2012).


Brown, Montague. (2007). Nursing Management: Issues and Ideas. Hoboken, NJ: Jones Bartlett and Sons.

Finkelman, A., & Kenner, C. (2012). Professional Nursing Concepts: Competencies for Quality Leadership. Hoboken, NJ: Jones Bartlett and Sons.

Miller, C. D. (2011). A Comparison of Skill Performance of the ADN and BSN Prepared Nurse at Three and Four Year Post-graduate Level. New York: ProQuest.