In 1980 I was an RT, and thought OK, I'll become an RN. Divorced with 2 kids and shared custody, working full time night shift in hospital. So, after discovering that I could get a BSN which cost money, and my ADN would cost absolutely nothing except for books....................wasn't too hard to figure out. Immediately post graduation in 1983, I enrolled in an ICU intensive course, so that I could go make the big bucks right away working via agency nursing assignments in Los Angeles.
No regrets on the choice, 18 years later. My illustrious Critical Care career has served me well. Every time I pondered returning for my BSN, I knew I could never put up with the paper writing regime. No idea why that is seen as such an important indicator of expertise, unless it builds character of some sort. At this juncture in the game, I would recommend a 4 year degree to those who have the time. Although there has been much discussion about the "professional" status that Nurses are supposedly struggling for in the marketplace, as some sort of educational comparison with other careers, I don't buy it. The four year students just write more papers. We all get out with our degrees or diplomas, and then we begin working and finally learning what we need to know. I don't think you'll find many Nurses making more than $100,000 per year, no matter what their degree is, unless they are working 60 hours a week, or have chosen to be an entrepeneur of some sort. Sure, there are some DON's making more than 100 grand, but they represent a fraction of 1% of all Nurses. So, it's really just a matter of choice. Unless of course you're in it for the initials after your name.