The work of a nurse requires specialized education, considering the level of responsibility essential for health care system. Therefore, the need for the workforce having a quality education is rather high in modern hospitals and other facilities of such nature. Taking into consideration the peculiarities of associate-degree nursing and baccalaureate-degree nursing, the paper aims at exploring associate-degree nursing level competencies, baccalaureate-degree nursing level competencies, discussing the differences in them between nurses prepared at the associate-degree level versus the baccalaureate-degree level, and identifying a patient care situation that describes how nursing care or approaches to the decision-making may differ based on the educational preparation of the nurse (BSN versus ADN degree).
Competencies of Associate-Degree Nursing Level
A typical education of a nurse of associate-degree nursing level includes two or three years of the process that provides information about clinical settings, bedside nursing skills, and various conditions of diseases. This level does not include any research activities or includes very little of them (Wu, Wang & Guo, 2014). It does not comply with the current standards of the health care system that rapidly change and adjust to the growing need in the qualified and professional personnel of the nurse level.
An ADN nurse cannot compete effectively with other professionals in the nursing sphere due to the limitations in her competencies. Modern hospitals show a little need for nurses of ADN level these days. It should be noted that ADN nurses were needed as bedside caregivers with low cost, so at some point in the health care system development, their services were considered appropriate (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008; Wu, Wang & Guo, 2014). Today, these competencies appear to be limited and insufficient.
Competencies of Baccalaureate-Degree Nursing Level
A typical education process of a baccalaureate-degree nursing level lasts longer and involves the in-depth mastering of advanced courses such as leadership, humanities, management of nurses, substantially more extensive care about patients, and administration. In addition, nurses are trained in such areas as community health, psychological aspects of nursing as well as socio-cultural, spiritual, and, to some extent, economic ones (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008).
It is clear that a BSN nurse is capable of functioning as an administrator and a bedside nurse, so the range of the competencies of such nurse is rather wide. One of the distinctive features of BSN nursing level is the ability of a BSN nurse to research the necessary topics and thus, provide patients with the care of higher quality. BSN nurses have a substantial arsenal of skills, which makes them if not substitutes of doctors in some situation but very qualified helpers, for sure. Most importantly, timely and qualified care is what to be expected from a well-trained BSN nurse in any situation. It is a reliable health care professional.
As it can be noticed, an ADN nurse is no match to a BSN nurse in the professional area. An ADN nurse can be a bedside caregiver with sufficient level of qualification, but there are no guarantees that such a nurse will react to some emergency in the appropriate and timely manner. Moreover, a BSN nurse has more skills to build an effective relationship with patient and thus, provide more qualified and efficient, patient-focused care (Grand Canyon University College of Nursing Philosophy, 2012). It can be said that ADN nurses are not sufficiently trained in comparison to BSN nurses. However, it is worth mentioning that BSN nurses spend substantially more time to obtain the appropriate level of education and sometimes, an ADN nurses’ services can be more appropriate in terms of cost than the same services provided by a BSN nurse.
The example of a real-life situation where the differences in competencies are critical is as follows. In cases, when palliative care is needed, patients are in bad condition, and they cannot communicate effectively about their needs and condition. For example, such a patient can refuse to take medications and/or food without an evident reason. Such end-of-life care requires very sensitive and careful approach to services’ provision.
An ADN nurse, due to the lack of the appropriate professional background, will simply document the fact of patient’s refusal and that will be it. The core of the ADN level of education is bedside nursing, so such a nurse will have not enough knowledge to know how to react to this situation properly. A BSN nurse will analyze the situation, talk to the family, assess the severity of the condition, and do whatever necessary to ease the condition of such a patient, understanding the delicacy of the situation. Such a nurse would be much more preferable within this situation than an ADN nurse would be.
Summing, the paper has explored associate-degree nursing level competencies, baccalaureate-degree nursing level competencies, discussed the differences in them between nurses prepared at the associate-degree level versus the baccalaureate-degree level, and identified a patient care situation that described how nursing care or approaches to decision-making may differ based on the educational preparation of the nurse (BSN versus ADN degree).
The core differences have been presented to show that BSN nurses have more practical experience than their ADN colleagues. The conducted research has demonstrated the changing trend, according to which the role of a nurse changes in the modern hospital setting, so an efficient modern nurse has to have competencies closer to the BSN level to be more competitive on the appropriate job market. Additionally, a BSN nurse would be more preferable in the case of providing care to a patient because it would be a more qualified and personalized approach than in the case of an ADN nurse.
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Washington, DC: One Dupont Circle.
Grand Canyon University College of Nursing Philosophy (2012). Student handbook. Web.
Wu, F., Wang, Y., & Guo, M. (2014). Application of nursing core competency standard education in the training of nursing undergraduates. International Journal of Nursing Sciences, 1(4), 367-370. Web.