Interesting question you posed. The choices are numerous, Certificate, Diploma, ADN, BSN. This is a question that has been debated over and over. It is not always clear what the "correct" answer would be. But let me give you my opinion and perhaps some advice.
As a profession, Nursing really needs to look at what we do that NO ONE else in the healthcare field does. This multi level entry dilemma is hurting us as a profession. Are we technicians or are we professional, critically thinking Healthcare providers? I am actually surprised that there are certificate or diploma schools left in the USA.
I came up through the ranks. I started as a CNA 1966, then ADN 1969, Then BSN 1984, then MSN 1988, now I am looking forward to one more year of post graduate schooling and I will be a nurse practitioner. The more I learn the more I realize what I do not know.
I believe that what I learned from the ADN program was excellent bed side nursing. the BSN program taught me excellent Critical thinking skills, and the MSN program helped me to fine tune those skills and specialize in the field of Nursing that I love, pain and palliative Care. Each step has increased my professionalism and critical thinking.
I can teach any one on the street to insert an IV or a Foley or NG tube BUT do they KNOW how to assess that tube..do they know when there is a problem? and would they know what to do? Yes, they can pass meds and change a dressing BUT these are all tasks that ANY ONE can do...what nurses do that no one else can do is ASSESS and DIAGNOSE response to disease and devise a wholistic plan of action to return the patient to as optimum functioning as is possible or realistic.
I know too many nurses who can not critically think through a pt problem. They are excellent technicians but terrible critical thinkers.
That's the long answer. Now for the short Answer. I think that if you want to be a technician, go be an LPN (LVN) If you Want to be a Professional nurse and cannot afford the 4 years of tuition then START with the ADN and then work toward a BSN. And if you want to specialize then MSN.