ADN vs BSN : Is getting an ADN a waste of time?

  1. Hi Nurse Beth,

    I am starting my nursing pre-reqs starting soon for an ADN program. I just turned 30 this year and this has been a long time coming! However, I was a single mom for a long time, and now that i am married, I have an additional child to care for - but I don have the additional support and income help, so it's as good time as any to actually do this!

    I currently work in a big hospital and make a decent salary working M-F for Nursing Administration - but I am wondering if getting an ADN is significantly detrimental to achieving my goal to become an ICU nurse. Where I work, I see a lot of RNs with an Associate that work side by side at the same pay as BSNs, but it's for cardiology, not intensive care. (However both are part of the Critical Cared Department). Right now, I cannot see myself being able to cold turkey quit my job and do the BSN program, although at some point i plan to.

    What do you all think? Is becoming an ADN a waste of time? Have you all seen big salary differences? Would hiring managers think less of me?



    Dear ADN vs BSN,

    Congrats on getting married

    If at all possible, get your BSN now. You will be more marketable and a BSN is fast becoming a requirement by many hospitals. This requirement will only increase in the future.

    Rather than focusing on today's job situation in your area, which may mean the same
    pay for ADNs as BSNs, or the same opportunities- look ahead. Your nursing career is in the healthcare world of the future, not the healthcare world of today.

    In the future, having an ADN will most assuredly limit your career opportunities and therefore your potential income.

    Good luck in your decision.

    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   RescueNinjaKy
    I do not believe that getting your ADN is a waste of time. I worked in a cardiac icu with my associates and got the same pay as bachelors degree nurses. Right now I am on orientation for cardiac cath lab which falls under critical care in my hospital and I still do not have my bachelors yet. Some facilities will require that you work on it though with a time line, but by no means is it a waste of time. I am working as an RN and going to school for my bachelors. If I didn't go for my associates I would not have been able to be working right now.
  4. by   cleback
    If you can make the BSN program work, then do it. It's true that having a BSN will make you more desirable as an RN, and a direct BSN track is faster than an ADN to BSN track.

    But, if you know that ADNs are being hired into critical care either at your facility or at other facilities in your area, the ADN would be a good option as well. The plus side to the ADN would be the possibility of entering the workforce sooner (only if you can complete the program in less than four years) and possibly less expensive overall. You could always work as an ADN while obtaining your BSN. A good numbers of hospitals offer tuition reimbursement or have contracts with RN to BSN programs to lower costs.

    Either way, you will eventually get to where you want to be. Good luck and enjoy the journey!
  5. by   Kysam
    No, getting your ADN is not a bad thing at all. Get your ADN and start working as a nurse. Maybe you won't go to ICU right after graduation but that really is OK. It will give you time to get some experience. You can always get your BSN after graduating with your ADN. I agree that you should, at some point, get your BSN.
    Good Luck
  6. by   applesxoranges
    I disagree. I think whoever can get you in quicker while being a non-profit is a better option. I think people should look at three or four different schools and research requirements. After getting an ADN, I was able to get a BSN within 1 year with a 3 month period off (started end of March and graduated that first week of December). If you plan it right, you can graduate with a BSN in the same time frame.
  7. by   caliotter3
    An ADN is worth it if it allows one to obtain a better job than the one that they now have.
  8. by   englishgarden
    I have been a nurse for 26 years and worked for fifteen years in the Cardiac Intensive Care unit with my ADN. In California the ADN program is excellent and offers students more clinical hours in the hospital and is specifically focused on providing care to patients in the acute care setting rather than in the community. I returned to college 5 years ago to get my BSN and then my MSN-Ed.
    Do what you have to do to get your degree. It is easy enough to get your BSN online once you have your ADN. Most hospitals in Southern California give nurses 3 years to complete their BSN after hire. Chances are the hospital you work at will hire you with your ADN degree.
    As far as what education is best to prepare to work in the intensive care unit...I am a big believer in specialty certification from the AACN. I gained a lot of knowledge studying for my CCRN certification.

    Good luck to you...we need you!
  9. by   Newyork10306
    Hello everyone,

    I'am an ADN new grauate in New York City. I know the hospitals here want BSN nurses. Does anybody know any states I prefer near New York or willing to relocate also that hire ADN new graduate nurses ? Also if you may know the names of the hospitals I would kindly appreciate your help.

    Best Regards,
  10. by   GrumpyOldBastard
    This is a great question! The answer is not absolute. The best answer for YOU may be different than the best answer for someone else. The CONTEXT of your situation is very important to making this decision. First let's establish a couple of facts:
    • ADNs are getting hired. In some urban areas it is harder to get jobs, but it is not an absolute bar to employment in most of the country. Many of my current ADN students (class of Spring 2017) are getting interviews and being offered jobs in good hospitals here in Texas. Not all will get great offers, but many are. The type of degree often is less important than the nature and quality of job experience for landing that first job (even at magnet hospitals).
    • RN to BSN programs are very accessible (MANY are 100% online) and many can be done quickly (it is a BUSY 2 or 3 semesters). A huge portion of the grads from my ADN program complete their BSN within 18 months of graduation.

    Things to consider are:
    • Timing.
      • It might look faster to do the BSN directly, but depending on your situation, it might take longer to gain admission to the generic BSN program of your choice... thus potentially negating the "faster". Some generic BSN programs stretch out the nursing courses over 3 years, vs the 2 to 2.5 years of most ADN programs.
      • I would argue that the question is NOT "How fast to BSN?" but "How fast to RN?". Once you are an RN, you can start making $$$ and do the remainder of the BSN while working.

    • Cost. Generally, ADN programs are less expensive per credit hour than the BSN programs. As a general rule, I think taking on loans for undergraduate study is something to be avoided when possible. Many employers offer financial assistance for their ADN employees to pursue a BSN.
    • Geography. If the ADN program is local and the generic BSN is far away, that could be important. Depending on your personal situation, that move may be easy/cheap or difficult/expensive.
    • Quality. Every program has a reputation. A BSN program with a poor reputation is not going to be a smart choice vs an ADN program with a great reputation. Often, the passing rates on the licensing exam (NCLEX-RN) for each school are available on the board of nursing web site.

    Good luck with your decision!
  11. by   GrumpyOldBastard
    Quote from englishgarden
    I gained a lot of knowledge studying for my CCRN certification.
    So true! I found the greatest value in my CCRN certification was the process of EARNING it, not having it.
  12. by   MetamorphRN
    I just graduated from an ADN program and I as well as many people that I graduated with got hired at Washington Hospital Center in D.C. in their competitive RN residency program. Previously, the hospital had ceased hiring nurses with Associate's degrees but have found that it's easier to hire nurses with an ADN and incentivize getting a BSN rather than excluding those with an ADN. I've heard that a lot of hospitals that had previously excluded ADNs are realizing this as well.

    Because of this, I don't think that getting an ADN is a waste of time, particularly if you can do a fully online RN to BSN program upon completion of your ADN. Many hospitals will also pay for most or all of your BSN courses if you're hired (WHC pays $10,000/year toward college tuition) and will therefore cost you less money in the long run.
  13. by   Pixie.RN
    I got my ADN first and then my employer paid for a lot of my BSN. But as others have mentioned, definitely consider your local hiring climate for ADN-prepared RNs.

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