I've been a nurse for 16 years, and this debate has gone on longer than that. I've been an ADN nurse for most of that time, and have recently completed my BSN. While my experience as a nurse helped making going back to school much easier than it was the first time around, I actually learned a lot. I know I'm a better nurse now because of the BSN ... despite the hype, it was a lot more than just "management" - in fact, of the eight or so nursing courses I had to take, only one of them dealt with leadership.
But, that's just anecdotal. The facts are in the research. If you're not aware of this article, please read "Educational Levels of Hospital Nurses and Surgical Patient Mortality" published way back in 2003. When removing all other factors, the study showed that a "10% increase in the proportion of nurses holding a bachelor's degree was associated with a 5% decrease in both the likelihood of patients dying within 30 days of admission and the odds of failure to rescue" (Aiken, 2003).
And then ... consider the facts from real life. Even down here in the South, hospitals faced with a glut of applicants are choosing BSNs over ADN students more than they ever have before. From what I've heard, it's difficult for an ADN nurse in Houston to find a job in the Medical Center. My hospital prefers them as well - and they are fully aware of the science on this matter.
My advice to everyone - if you have an ADN, find a low-cost way to degree-up (I completed mine at UT-Arlington online). If you're taking pre-reqs to get into nursing school - take the extra time and get your BSN. Hospital doors are literally locking on ADN applicants.
Aiken, L., Clarke, S., Cheung, R., Sloane, D., & Silber., J. Educational levels of hospital nurses and surgical patient mortality. Journal of the American Medical Association, 290 (12), 1617-1623.