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ADN vs ABSN vs DEMSN?

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I work in the arts now and have a Master's degree. I'm strongly considering a career change into nursing. My research into changing careers has shed light on several different pathways including an ADN, Accelerated BSN, or direct-entry MSN. I've considered going down the ADN route because of costs and I've read that employers will help with tuition reimbursement for the BSN/MSN down the road.

Any career changers out there? Did you go down one of these paths? If so, why did you choose that path over the others?

I suppose it depends heavily on if you can keep working during the ADN program and if you make a decent salary already. If you are industrious can then use wgu or capella to quickly bridge to the BSN and work on a MSN, and eventually do an np program if that’s what interests you

Most absn and demsn programs are very expensive, but since they are accelerated you graduate and get to work faster so they basically pay for themselves; assuming you complete them.

I personally like accelerated programs and don’t want to take forever to finish an ADN just to have to do even more work for the BSN/MSN. I’m looking at an absn or demsn followed by an np cert so I can get to being an np ASAP.

Hi Miqbal,

I just wanted to clarify, before I explain my story, that I'm certainly no expert and my understanding of programs that differ from my own stem from things I've heard from my peers and experienced nurses; at the end of the day, you know yourself and your situation better than everyone else.

I'm currently one semester away from obtaining my ADN. This route was not my first choice, however, because I already had more than 30 credits under my belt when I began to pursue nursing, it made it incredibly difficult for me to go the BSN route. The only affordable BSN program in my area only accepted transfer students if there were any vacancies, and these spots were unbelievably competitive (for reference, this is a noncompetitive state university, I had a 3.97 GPA, and I volunteered with my local hospital's elder program and still got waitlisted). Rather than wait another year just to find out I had been waitlisted again, I enrolled in my local community college's ADN program. I managed to take all my prerequisites, pass my entrance exam, and get accepted to the program before the beginning of my second semester. There happened to be a two-semester waiting list, so during that time I passed the remainder of the program's requirements and began taking some classes toward my BSN. This allowed me to focus completely on my nursing classes, which has served me well over the last three semesters. That being said, once I graduate in December, it will have taken me 7 semesters to get this degree. Had I never gone to college previously, I would have been able to achieve my BSN in one more semester than my ADN. Now I have to choose which RN to BSN program I want to attend, and my current options included either 10 straight months of full-time online classes or 3 regular semesters of hybrid online/in-person classes. If time is an issue for you, I do not recommend the ADN route; however, if money is more of a factor, my ADN will only cost me approximately $12,000. As far as employers providing tuition reimbursement, that really depends on the facility itself. In my area, that's really only offered with the larger hospitals. Of course, regardless of whether or not they'll reimburse you, most facilities in my area are now requiring all new hires to begin their bridge programs within 12 months of hire, with completion within 5 years.

You happen to be in a better position than I was, where you can go the ABSN route. These programs tend to be quite pricy but obtaining your BSN in 18 months rather than 5 years could allow you to work additional per diem shifts with differential to help make up for those increased costs. Of course, these programs are also intensive, and most find work to be impossible. Again, this really has to do with your personal financial situation and how quickly you want to achieve your degree.

I don't know much about direct entry MSN programs, however, I've never really considered these programs simply for the fact that I would be afraid of limiting my choices for practice without ever having experience in the field; not to mention the pressure of working above other RNs with considerably more experience than I. Nursing school really only prepares you to only think like a nurse, so after pursuing the direct entry route, you would be comparable to every other new grad, yet responsible for so much more. I've heard nurses go as far as to call these programs dangerous.

Again, I'm probably the least qualified person to be offering advice. I hope that you're able to choose the path that works best for you and your life.

Best wishes and good luck!

Edited by YouCanCallMeFrank

I have done a lot of research on these paths as well. I think ADN is a great option if you want the cheapest way to become a nurse. And I have many friends that have gotten their BSN and MSN later through employers. Nurses are crucial so I really don't think you can go wrong with any path. The best option for each person is unique to their situation so you have to do what's best for you.

I want to be an NP one day and I already have my bachelor's in something else so I am going to attend a direct entry master's. The DEMSN I was accepted to is about the same price and length of time as an ABSN so it makes more sense for me to get the higher degree. When I graduate from the program, I will still be an entry level nurse, but after working for a few months, I can apply to certificate programs to get my NP. I don't know of any place that would automatically put an MSN nurse immediately out of school above other nurses with more experience. I think the master's program is just meant to be beneficial so people can avoid taking duplicate classes for bachelor's and master's programs that don't transfer if they know they want a career in advanced nursing one day. Although money is of concern to me, finishing school quickly is most important to me so I can get out in the workforce.

Thank you all for your valuable insight. It's valuable to hear everyone's experiences and how its shaped their decisions to pursue nursing. It's reassuring to know that there isn't a right/wrong answer here as everyones situation is different. There's a lot of information out there but hearing first hand accounts is appreciated!

As an Ohio Resident, I work full-time and am taking classes to fulfill prerequisite requirements. I wouldn't be able to start school until the Summer/fall of 2021. My plan of action is to apply to a few different programs and see where I'm accepted. Having spent so much time in school now, it seems the most efficient way is through a DEMSN program. I have a few programs in mind including University of Toledo and UVA. I'll apply for a few ADN and ABSN programs as well.

Like many others during COVID-19, I'm nervous about my current job stability. I'm contemplating getting my STNA/CNA certification to gain experience/work in a healthcare setting.

Edited by miqbal1109

Uroboros, APRN

Specializes in Advanced Practice Critical Care and Family Nursing. Has 17 years experience.

Nursing was my second career choice. I was attempting to be a free lance writer but quickly realized this was not going to pay the bills. After completing a CNA program that only took several weeks I then completed an ADN program. This was many years ago so the tuition was cheap and I paid it all out of pocket with a few writing scholarships. I've since gone on to a word salad of credentials, but all started with CNA to ADN as an initial springboard. Definitely the most timely and least expensive route. If you see yourself pursuing more BSN is the standard, but for bedside nursing or middle management even,ADN typically meets the minimum required. Wish you well.

On 5/13/2020 at 9:39 AM, miqbal1109 said:

Any career changers out there? Did you go down one of these paths? If so, why did you choose that path over the others?

I'm a second-career changer. I currently work as an NP.

When I decided to change careers, I knew I wanted to be an NP and so did several informational interviews and shadowed some NPs. They all advised I first get my BSN and work as an RN. There is much debate about whether an NP needs RN experience but I decided to heed their advice so enrolled in a quasi-accelerated BSN program. I worked full-time while going to NP school.

While I did want to became an NP sooner than later, I didn't feel a massive rush either. Even if you finish NP school in your 40s, you have a good 20, 30+ years to work as an NP. I wanted to make sure I understood everything well (I was a graphic designer) and had good exposure to things.

I personally don't think getting an ADN is worth it. I don't know what state you live in but there is more "guarantee" (in theory) to get an RN job with a BSN out the gate, esp if the facility is all about Magnet status.

I know several RNs who have completed direct-entry MSN programs and continue to work as RNs. I'm unsure what they want to do with their careers but for myself, I wanted the BSN as well as the MSN, which is why I didn't choose direct-entry.

Ultimately, what is it you want to do with nursing? Work as an APRN? Work in education? Work at the bedside? That will also help determine what route to take. Hope this helps.