Teachers fueling the "my degree is better than your degree" problem

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    I'm in a BSN program. I'm 32, with kids, and a husband who has been super supportive of me taking the longer approach to entering the nursing scene. I also hope to move on to a masters program in the future and don't want to do a bridge program first. I'd rather just get my bachelors degree in one straight shot.

    Most of my classmates are you g women, roughly 20 years old, who did the whole school thing right-- went to college and will finish BEFORE having kids. I'm not even sure if most of them thought about the ADN vs. BSN question. I think they decided to go to college, as their peers were doing, they selected a university to attend, and took the opportunity to move away from home while still enjoying the support and safety net of their parents. Had I known 14 years ago what I wanted out if life, I probably would have done the same.

    Anyway, my point is, we all have our reasons for choosing the degree we do, and I doubt many of us regret that choice. We're scholars capable of well reasoned decisions as demonstrated by being accepted into nursing programs in the first place.

    Well, I have one professor who keeps pointing out why BSN is better. I'm glad that she takes pride in our program, and maybe pointing out differences is a good idea, but to continually describe how we will be superior to our ADN counterparts does a serious disservice, I think. I don't think I'm better than an ADN-RN. She (or he) chose that program based on her own goals and needs. My less open-minded classmates may not think that way, though, and we are now going to have more people walking into the workforce with this "I'm better than you" chip on their shoulders. I don't think that's okay!

    I'm just venting, really. Any of you have professors like this?
    heartsgal likes this.
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  4. 34 Comments so far...

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    I attend a University which obviously does BSN so the majority of my professors feel this way as well. There are differences between ADN and BSN which is why some places request you have a BSN. But there are amazing ADN nurses out there just like there are poor BSN nurses out there. Ultimately I think the type of person you are affects your practice more then the degree you get (although everyone only seems to care about that!).
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    I don't think any professor of a BSN program is going to say "You're wasting you're time and money for a 4 year degree. You should have gone to an ADN program. Take the cheaper and faster route to the same job." Those students taking the extra time and money provide these professors with a job. Now that's not to say its okay to encourage students that they're better than others. I think getting your ADN is fine if you don't plan on eventually getting an advanced degree, but personally I feel if you plan on going back to school you might as well start with a BSN. And that is merely out of convenience. It's one less program to apply for, one less move you might have to make, one less transcript to request. I also think eventually they're going to phase out ADN programs. Some states are already taking steps to do so (ADN+10 requirements).
    CareQueen, KelRN215, and Dobeigh like this.
  7. 1
    Well of course they're not going to say that! This professor is a bit over the top, in my opinion. In the 4 times we've had this class so far, she's made it a point to mention it. "And this is why your bachelors degree will be better than your associate degreed co-workers....." IDK. It's okay to give the side-by-side comparison, but there is a line when it comes to promoting elitism, if that makes sense. She's crossing it.
    soxgirl2008 likes this.
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    I went to a university that had LPN-BSN, ADN-BSN programs, so there was never "ADN" bashing... A lot my instructors were ADNs, so maybe that is why the "bashing" (as you describe) was absent.

    I can see your concern by your professors, ahem, near-indoctrination of "a BSN is a more prepared RN than ADN" issue. I had a clinical instructor who was totally confused about the role of the LPN (she was notified by faculty that I was one) so we had to have a "clarification" meeting, with me stressing the need to be a student nurse, that us where I am, in nursing school, right??? Just glad she was understanding, but now everybody KNEW I was a nurse...so I totally understand the elitist issue, I faced it as a PN student with a under-qualified (she did NOT have the requirements for her position and had an elitist attitude) for people who had healthcare experience, as a LPN at a job that allowed us to work with central lines (I had to show my supervisor MY nurse practice act as a LPN..how would she KNOW when she has to be aware of HER nurse practice act??? *rant*) and questions from nurses that started practicing when LPNs were phased out or non-existent in acute care when they started practicing, although MOST instructors were "pro skill mix" and less elitist, especially when our coursework moved into delegation...I can't imagine what this instructor may say about LPNs... :-/

    I'm pretty turned off about the "versus" nurse hierarchy as well, since I kept moving up the ladder, and am grateful for any opportunity being surrounded by a bottom-line excellent healthcare nursing skill mix...but I digress.

    I get your point
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    I agree that BSN professors are going to promote the BSN, and they should, but I agree that to keep bringing it up again and again is a bit excessive. All nurses should strive for higher education, but bashing LPNs or ADNs does nothing for the profession. I remember seeing a post awhile ago about a new grad BSN student who was completely shocked that her ADN co workers were doing the same job as her for the same pay... I wonder if her thinking came from professors like the one you mentioned. I definitely think everyone should eventually get their BSN, but having an ADN doesn't make you less of a nurse...and some of these professors are just putting nurses against each other.
  10. 9
    She's right, a better education is a better education. Nobody understands that unless they've done the work to get it. Nobody ever says gee, I wish I didn't know more about something.

    The BSN opens doors that are closed to the ADN. It is often difficult for students, who rarely know more about nursing than what they see in their hospital / LTC /SNF clinicals, to understand that. That is what your faculty is trying to tell you, however imperfectly. Don't look at it as "pitting" or "disparaging," look at it as "encouraging."

    This is one of the most contentious issues in nursing: the level of education needed for a profession. As many of the AN'rs know, I come down squarely on the side of a BS in Nursing or BSN as entry-level educational preparation. When I had smaller kids and they asked me a question, I always asked them, "Do you want the short answer or the long one?" Since I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times they ever said, "Short" and still have enough left over for the Boy Scout salute, here it is again.


    (Disclaimer: Have worked as a staff nurse, inservice/staff development, instructor, NCLEX prep course instructor, case manager in multiple settings, and other stuff too numerous to mention. In short, been around, seen that, done that.)


    What's a profession? Is nursing a profession? What's the basic educational prep for people you think of as professionals? Would you want your chemistry research done by someone with an associate degree? Your child taught high school math or English? Your income tax advising? Sure, there are good people with lower level education who succeed in life, but don't let that "we all have the same license and sit for the same exam" fool you. Better education makes you better at what you do. There are any number of people who can give you examples of BSNs or MNs who don't know how to take a rectal temp (why does everyone focus on that and bedpans when they think of nursing, anyway?) and marvelous crusty old LPNs who saved the resident's butt one dark and stormy night, but for every single one of those I will see your anecdote and raise you half a dozen godawful errors made by nurses who didn't take the coursework and didn't get exposed to the idea of autonomy in school.


    Time: The bachelor's degree takes four years. The associate's degree (AS or ASN) takes ... three and a half, once you count all the prerequisites you're going to have to take before they admit you into the nursing program. And those who say you can work on your BSN while you are working as an RN with an AS don't tell you (and maybe don't know, to be charitable) that many of your course hours from the AS program are not transferrable, so it won't just be a matter of a semester or two or three. AND working as a nurse is HARD, almost as hard as nursing school ... think you'll have the mental, physical, social, and financial energy for more education at the same time? Oh, and in most jurisdictions you can't sit for the LPN exam and work as one while partway thru a AS or BSN program anymore, either.


    Job opportunities: Although the old a-nurse-is-a-nurse-is-a-nurse attitude is fortunately fading away, at entry level for new grads, about the same, and I realize that people who are just starting out have a very incomplete idea of what it means to be a nurse. However, look around the place and see who's working. Are you planning to be older some day? Do you see older nurses working in those entry-level staff or charge positions? If not, where did they all go? Why do you care? Well, suppose you work on a general medical floor and get entranced by cardiac rehabilitation after following a patient who did it. A job comes up in the department, hooray! Oops, BSN only. Or you find your heart drawn to helping underserved women in a public health clinic for high-risk pregnancy. Sorry, BSN only in public health. After five or six years as a staff nurse you have become a resource to new hires and your peers and you realize you have a gift for teaching. You see that a position in staff development has come open, and you are first in line at HR to apply. You got it.... BSN is the minimum. School nursing? BSN. Hurt your back and want to go for a job in case management? BSN. You discover you have a gift for asking, "Why do we do it this way?" and are amazed to find you want to look into jobs in management or nursing research.....BSN minimum. You are starting to get the picture now. Also, many, many practice settings give you a differential for BSN. No, I know, not all, but hey. One more factor.


    Growth: The questions in the licensure exams (NCLEX) are developed from errors made in the first year of practice by new grads, and regardless of pass rates from different level programs, anyone in practice can confirm the research: In the first year of work all new grads perform at about the same level as they get their feet under them and get used to the idea of working as an RN. But after that year, the BSNs pull ahead in ways that are related to their higher level of education. Why? Because what we call in the ed biz "psychomotor skills," the things you do with your hands, can be done by anyone with enough practice. Hell, we teach lay people how to do peritoneal dialysis at home or suction tracheostomies. But the understanding of WHY some things are as they are is something you get in better education: more science, more sociology, more psychology, more history, a basic statistics class, exposure to more clinical settings (I doubt if you'll get a full semester in peds, psych, OB, or any public health at all in most AS programs) give you the insight to ask better questions and make better decisions.


    If you really want to be a NURSE, don't you want to find yourself in the camp of folks who are grateful they learned more, rather than the ones who find they had to for advancement or competence and wish they'd done it in the first place? My answer is clear. That's what your faculty means to communicate to you. The bigger picture.
    CareQueen, llg, melmarie23, and 6 others like this.
  11. 3
    Oh, Grn Tea I wish I could just pick your brain every single time something doesn't fit right in this over-thinking brain of mine. Seriously, I adore you and your ability to present such well-reasoned points of view. Thank you!
    CareQueen, nguyency77, and amoLucia like this.
  12. 1
    Grn Tea, I agree with many of your points, but my ADN program does all the same clinical sites (ob, peds, mental health, etc) as the BSN program. Neither of the programs has a full semester of peds or mental health (half a semester). The BSN program also doesn't include any public health clinical. So while they do learn more in the classroom about the bigger picture of nursing, they have the same clinical exposure as us. I do believe nurses should strive for higher education, and I am bridging over as soon as I graduate and my school has agreements with the BSN school about credits transferring ( im surprised to hear that people have a hard time transferring credits to bridge programs... all the state ADN programs here have agreements with most of the BSN programs that a minimum of 60-70 credits must transfer. )ALL my credits transfer, and I have all the pre reqs done for the BSN as well as nursing research and a couple other upper level theory courses from my previous university... So it really will only take me 2-3 semesters to have my BSN. Many of my co workers did a bridge program while working as an RN, and it was very do-able for them. Just pointing out not everyone's BSN program has more clinical exposure and that not everyone from an ADN program has problems with credits transferring/working and doing a bridge program.
    Band likes this.
  13. 0
    It bums me out to think of shorter rotations in any specialty. My school has an accelerated second degree program. After doing pre-reqs, the program is 3 semesters instead of 4. They combine the peds and maternity rotations to make it possible. I think I'd ask to do their traditional program if I already had a degree because I'd hate to miss out of full semesters of those experiences.


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