Which route do I take?

  1. Hello! I graduated last year with a Bachelors in Health Information Management. I would like to get a degree in Nursing now. I paid for my undergrad entirely by student loans so I'm a very scary $70,000-ish in debt. I was wanting to get an associate's degree in nursing since it is much cheaper but would it be more advisable to try to get into an accelerated BSN program? I'm well aware that BSN is preferred, but will someone with an ADN have that much trouble finding a job? I was even thinking of doing that and once my student loans are a little more paid off and I have saved up some money I could do an RN to BSN program.

    Any advice would help!
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    About hjs13

    Joined: Mar '12; Posts: 10; Likes: 1
    from US


  3. by   dragonfly414
    I do not have loans quite as high as yours, but I've had to make a similar decision. I am graduating in May from USM with a B.S. in Health Sciences and a minor in Holistic Health. I had applied to an FNP options program for non-nursing B.S. graduates, but my 3.4 was not good enough for the extremely competitive applicant pool. I also applied to an accelerated BSN, and regular BSN at my school, but began to feel my chances were definitely not guaranteed despite a pretty good GPA. I didn't want to wait any longer, I'm almost 25 and I want to get it DONE!

    Sooo instead of putting all of my eggs in USM's basket, I applied to every associates program within an hour or so of my house whose deadline I had not missed. I ended up not getting into the accelerated BSN, surprise surprise! and I still have not found out about the regular BSN. Meanwhile, I took the NLN-PAX, scored well, applied to GBCC for their 2/28 deadline, and was sent an acceptance letter the second week of March!

    I'm not sure if you have taken your prerequisites or any nursing courses you could take ahead of time for an associates, but if you have it would lighten your credit load and maybe you could work a little like I plan to. I have taken all required courses except clinicals so I need 9 credits per semester for four semesters/36 credits to get my ASN. If I went for my BSN I would have to take 63 credits and attend four full time semesters. The BSN route might take longer to get into for me and would be increasing my tuition bill, decreasing my ability to have time to work, and increasing the cost of living loans I would have to take. The more I thought about it, the less it made sense for me to go to a BSN.

    If I were you I'd go for an associates. Yes many hospitals prefer a BSN, but they do still hire associate nurses and at least you already hold a prior BS degree. If I wasn't graduating with my BS in Health Sciences I would not have gone the associates route, but at this point it makes way more sense. It is to my understanding new grads make the same regardless of holding a BSN or an ASN. I decided I didn't need to double my student loan debt or collect B.S. degrees to be a good RN. Maybe at some later point I'll go for an RN to BSN or apply to an MSN program that bipasses the BSN, but for now I just want to get my RN asap and start working in the field I love. Also, in my case many courses required for USM's RN to BSN are the same courses I've taken as part of my Health Sciences degree. So if I do decide to get my BSN afterwards it will not take nearly as long. Check and see which classes you would have to take to go from RN to BSN, perhaps some of those are classes you may have already taken as part of your previous BS degree. Good luck!
  4. by   hjs13
    Thank you so much for the advice! Everything you brought up I was originally thinking, but I started to doubt going the associates route. You definitely made me feel better. Good luck with everything!!
  5. by   dragonfly414
    You're welcome! It is a complicated and highly debated process, but it is comforting to find others who at battling the same storm. The other thing to think about is that sometimes associates schools and BSN/MSN schools are completely different in regards to what they consider when they look at when the accept you. For example, apparently part of what my school does is looks at your resume and takes note of your volunteer hours. So a great student might not get accepted all because someone else had volunteer hours on the resume!

    Meanwhile, the associates school I was accepted to looks primarily at your NLN-PAX scores and science grades. I'm not a fan of standardized testing, but in my opinion it probably shows more about your intelligence and ability to learn to be a nurse than your number of volunteer hours does. Don't get me wrong volunteering is great and I'd love to do it someday, but right now I can hardly support myself! Right now, "free time" (whatever that is) should be spent on homework, making money so they don't shut the lights off, or cleaning my house! In my experience, associates programs tend to be geared towards a more practical sense of priorities.

    In a BSN you'll find yourself taking 3 credit courses you do not really need on topics like 'concepts in community health'.... which is basically a 16 week long course about how HIV is a worldwide problem, health is affected by drinking water in many countries, and the varying different kinds of influenza that spread rapidly can kill people. You will find yourself sitting in lecture thinking "yes this stuff is true, and yes it is significant in our world, but for over a 1,000 dollars per course please teach me something I didn't already learn from the 6 o'clock news that will help me be a better nurse".

    Every RN I've spoken to that has enrolled in the RN to BSN program can't believe the classes they have to take. After being in the field of nursing and then returning to school to get a higher education, many of them feel quite frustrated and some feel it is a waste of time depending on where they want to go with their career because half of the courses are ones like I just described. Bottom line: after AP I, AP II, Micro, and Chem, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nutrition are the courses I've taken which seem to stand out between the associates and a BSN. Good luck to you too!
  6. by   Humulus
    Despite what some people say, ASN grads are being hired.
  7. by   msquaredthefirst
    I'm in the same situation. I have a bachelor's already, and I would feel really uncomfortable if I had to take out loans for a BSN (it's a personal as well as cultural thing). So for people in the know-how, is it much harder to get hired as an ADN? Say the hospital had an equal amount of BSN and ADN applicants, would they choose more BSNs? I really don't want to go into debt, but I also don't want to complete an ADN and not have any job opportunities.
  8. by   dragonfly414
    I would think who they hired would not solely be based on whether the applicant has an ADN or BSN. There are so many variables... like previous work experience, education prior to nursing, how the interview goes etc. If I didn't already have a B.S. in Health Sciences I would personally be going for a BSN because I have always had the goal of earning at least a Bachelors. I just do not see how taking on more debt to get a BSN makes any sense for me right now when new grads make the same no matter what degree they have. You might not get your dream job right away, but I think an ADN is certainly employable in many places.
  9. by   HouTx
    OP - is there a reason you aren't trying to get an HIM job? Seems like such a waste if you have the education and degree. If you could work in HIM in a hospital/health care system, you may be able to take advantage of tuition reimbursement to go for a nursing degree and this would decrease the need for additional loans.
  10. by   hjs13
    HouTx - I have been applying to local hospitals because that was definitely a thought of mine, getting a hospital to help with the costs of obtaining a nursing degree. 1) There aren't many openings in the HIM departments at these hospitals and 2) I was told I was either over-qualified or under-qualified for every position they had available (where is that perfect position for me?! haha). I feel as if I was misled in this HIM degree...I would like to work in a hospital setting but most jobs only requre a high school diploma (perhaps with a couple years experience in a medical setting) or associates. No one wants to hire the 4-year degree holder (over-qualified). OR, they are management positions that require years of experience. I said I would be willing to take one of the jobs I am "over qualified" for to get me in the door at that hospital. At least this has been my experience in the job search.

    I am interested in a nursing degree because I definitely would like to be more on the clinical side of health care. In the long run, I would like to obtain a position that uses both degrees, such as case/outcomes management, risk management, quality assessment, etc. During my undergrad, we shadow many positions like this and were put under the impression that these were jobs we could be employed in as an HIM graduate - however, looking at those job descriptions, every hospital I've seen wants that employee to have a nursing background. I am leaving the job I held since graduation as a medical records coordinator (or, clincial information analyst, as the title was just changed). I do like working with and maintaining patient information but I would much rather be in the "action" and on the clinical side of it.
  11. by   cally527
    I graduated with a Bachelors in Business about 3 years ago. I have $80k in student loan debt and I have been unemployed for a year.
    I am currently taking pre-req's and plan to apply to an ADN program because I can't afford to do a BSN or Accelerated BSN program. The ADN program has fewer pre-req's needed to apply. I keep reading that NO ONE is hiring RN's unless they have a BSN but if that were truly the case then it would be a requirement listed on every RN job posting.
    I plan to get a BSN and maybe even go on for MSN but I am starting with an ADN for now.
  12. by   Mijourney
    Hi HJS13. I graduated from nursing school at a time when nursing and health care jobs were plentiful. I also paid out very little in education because my employer had an agreement with my nursing program and waived the fees. Now it appears that many new graduates no matter their speciality are having difficulty landing that first job within the first six months. Have you thought about an internship? I know don't know the specifics, but I do know that you may be able to apply for and land an internship at the local, state, or federal level. For instance, I am aware that at the federal level, there are internships for HIM professionals in the veterans administration. Do you have a RHIA or RHIT credential? If so, consider the internship route. Once you get your foot in the door and get past your first year, you may find that you can apply for nursing tuition assistance whereby your nursing education is paid in full. Or, you may have to get through the internship and get in a regular HIM position to get tuition assistance.