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ADN vs BSN Nurses' Competency

Posted

Hello everyone,

Based on your experiences, do you think ADN nurses are just as competent as BSN nurses straight out of nursing school? I'm attending a four year university to attain my BSN degree and have taken various challenging courses, a majority of which I had to successfully pass to even get into the program. However, my friend attended a local community college to get an ADN and often boasts to me of how easy his prerequisite courses were, since he took them online, and how easy nursing school was since the professors he had were not as rigorous as the ones I currently have. He passed his NCLEX and has been working in a telemetry unit for 5 months now. So is a BSN degree just a longer degree because it is filled with humanities courses and "busy work" nursing courses rather than just the essentials? Is a BSN degree over-preparing students or is the ADN degree not demanding enough? Should ADN nurses even have the same scope of practice as BSN nurses?

Edited by gabemedi

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience.

My experience was that my ADN program was tougher than my BSN completion program.... which was partially online. Many(most?) people these days choose BSN bridge programs that are completely online.

I have studied at multiple schools (was a music major at a very expensive liberal arts college... too expensive to justify the cost of a nursing degree which are plentiful) and also found the 100/200 level science classes easier than similar classes at my vo-tech. (History and language classes at the liberal arts school was a VERY different story!)

My nursing instructors did NOT mess around! You came to clinical an ounce of unprepared and they failed you. And C’s didn’t get any of us degrees... C’s were failing.

34 minutes ago, gabemedi said:

However, my friend attended a local community college to get an ADN and often boasts to me of how easy his prerequisite courses were, since he took them online, and how easy nursing school was since the professors he had were not as rigorous as the ones I currently have.

He said that nursing school was easy because his professors were not as rigorous as the ones you have?

He passed NCLEX so it's moot regardless.

34 minutes ago, gabemedi said:

Is a BSN degree over-preparing students or is the ADN degree not demanding enough?

Keep in mind that one could manage to obtain a BSN without being well-prepared and/or could survive an ADN program while feeling that it was very demanding. Some of this is to be attributed to the opinions, perceptions and personal experiences of the one who experienced it. I'm sure at some point you have found something easy that others found difficult, and vice versa.

36 minutes ago, gabemedi said:

Should ADN nurses even have the same scope of practice as BSN nurses?

If they pass the same boards and have the same license, what part of the scope of practice might one suggest that the ADN is not qualified to perform?

bitter_betsy, BSN

Specializes in Emergency / Disaster. Has 2 years experience.

I understand your frustration. Coming from a BSN program where I studied my butt off, ended up with a 3.6 GPA and guess what..... if you do the math - thats a 92 and in my program that's a solid B. In the local ADN program that would be a 4.0. Not like I'm graduating with a ceremony anyway - but somewhere else and I would have graduated with honors, here I'm a middle of the road student. In the end - no one cares but us. The goal is NCLEX. If you ask me - its harder for us to pass the stupid thing because we are taught to think critically, so I'm looking at all the answers analyzing all of them, critically thinking about them when I should just glaze over and pick it.

You do you. Just keep going. Find a new friend - he sounds like he missed therapeutic communication class and doesn't sound like a supportive friend.

Salisburysteak, ADN, RN

Specializes in Long-term Acute Care.

Oh boy!

OP, you are opening a Pandora’s Box that needs to stay closed!

An ADN is an RN and a BSN is an RN. Graduates of both programs take the same NCLEX-RN. There is no different NCLEX for the degree you graduated with. Not everyone can afford or have the time for a BSN program so, many RNs will go the ADN route and obtain their BSN from an online program later.

NO! The scopes of practice should NOT be different. That is insulting to ADNs who worked their butts off in Nursing school. An RN is an RN and some will be great and some not so much. Out of those that are not great some will be BSNs and those that are great Some are ADNs & Diploma RNs.

OP, please do not go into your career thinking BSNs are better. It will be a long road to go down. In the grand scheme of things giving competent and great care is all that matters.

Edited by Salisburysteak

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

55 minutes ago, Salisburysteak said:

Oh boy!

OP, you are opening a Pandora’s Box that needs to stay closed!

An ADN is an RN and a BSN is an RN. Graduates of both programs take the same NCLEX-RN. There is no different NCLEX for the degree you graduated with. Not everyone can afford or have the time for a BSN program so, many RNs will go the ADN route and obtain their BSN from an online program later.

NO! The scopes of practice should NOT be different. That is insulting to ADNs who worked their butts off in Nursing school. An RN is an RN and some will be great and some not so much. Out of those that are not great some will be BSNs and those that are great Some are ADNs & Diploma RNs.

OP, please do not go into your career thinking BSNs are better. It will be a long road to go down. In the grand scheme of things giving competent and great care is all that matters.

This. ^^ I only hope that this will be the definitive post that discourages further arguments...oops, discussions.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

It is not the degree that leads to a new nurse’s competence but rather the efforts of the program and the ability to apply oneself in the program and later pass NCLEX, the test of minimum competence to practice as a novice nurse. There are wonderful ADN, BSN, diploma, and MEPN programs. There are horrible ADN, BSN, diploma, and MEPN programs out there too. As for whether a program is difficult or easy is much in the eye of the beholder. Some simply have a natural ability to absorb like a sponge and others need to make additional efforts.

Katie82, RN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, PH, CM. Has 39 years experience.

The measurement for clinical proficiency and licensure is the NCLEX, taken by both ASN and BSN grads. I believe the ASN programs are more challenging because the program has only 2 years to prepare you for the boards. My class started with 84 students and graduated 38, so it wasn't a cake walk. When I started nursing school, I already had a 4-year degree so saw no need to get another. I worked for almost 15 years with a 2-year degree until I decided that if I wanted admin-level jobs, I would need a 4-year "nursing related" degree. In researching BSN programs, it soon became apparent to me that such a program would do very little to make me a better nurse. So I changed tacks and began looking for alternative programs. Ended up with a BBA in Health Care Admin and a MBA in Health Care Management. Has never let me down. At the time I was choosing ASN vs BSN, my aunt was working for the NLN. She told me that their goal was to make nursing a "profession" by making us all college grads. She told me that there is almost no measurable difference in the clinical proficiency of ASN vs BSN, as a matter of fact, the only difference between the two was the addition of Community Health and Nursing Leadership. I acquired both on the job.

11 hours ago, bitter_betsy said:

I understand your frustration. Coming from a BSN program where I studied my butt off, ended up with a 3.6 GPA and guess what..... if you do the math - thats a 92 and in my program that's a solid B. In the local ADN program that would be a 4.0. Not like I'm graduating with a ceremony anyway - but somewhere else and I would have graduated with honors, here I'm a middle of the road student. In the end - no one cares but us. The goal is NCLEX. If you ask me - its harder for us to pass the stupid thing because we are taught to think critically, so I'm looking at all the answers analyzing all of them, critically thinking about them when I should just glaze over and pick it.

You do you. Just keep going. Find a new friend - he sounds like he missed therapeutic communication class and doesn't sound like a supportive friend.

I completely agree with your comment. I do not understand why ADN degrees are even still in place, the standard should be a BSN degree in my opinion. Community college courses are in not in any form as difficult or challenging as the courses offered in a four year university. I also find comfort in knowing I will be graduating feeling more prepared thanks to all the hard I have put into obtaining my four year degree rather than just a two year one.

Uroboros, APRN

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

The real question is what separates a profession from simple trades? Is nursing a trade? Is it an "on the job" or "learn as you go" field? Or is it a science? An art? And without a doubt any of you wouldn't place your loved ones healthcare in the hands of someone who is self qualified, even with years of experience, or only on personal referral. You want someone with those qualities, and the highest education possible.

If nursing is ever going to evolve into a real profession, stand along side healthcare leaders, and stop crawling at the heels of medicine or law, the standards have to change. Because standards are what separates the profundity of loose experiential knowledge, which has its place, from empirical return demonstrated evidenced based practice.

The ADN-BSN argument is very old indeed, and legislative changes have been suggested or in place since the 1960's. However check out the more recent 10bill passed by New York in 2017, placing a timeline on recent ADN grads to obtain BSN. And as many of you know Magnet hospitals typically do not hire ADNs. So the trend is slowly moving in that direction, and in my opinion not fast enough. Of course there would have to be some form of grandfathering system for ADN nurses of long tenure or ending their careers, but the professional standard has always been an undergraduate degree, for any profession.

And this is all coming from someone who started as a CNA, to ADN, to BSN, to MSN, triple post-master's certified, finishing a PhD, and just all around next level extra 😉

bitter_betsy, BSN

Specializes in Emergency / Disaster. Has 2 years experience.

While I have a 4 year degree - I only spent 14 months in an ABSN program. Time in program doesn't make a difference between nurses. I'm salty about having to work so hard for my GPA when I carried a 4.0 for my first undergrad degree (Computer Science - Information Technology)... It was suggested that we didn't work while in our nursing program (and I couldn't if I wanted decent grades - it took a 95 to get an A), I studied constantly, and some of the techs who are in an ADN program were able to work full time and carry a 4.0 - and their 89.5 was still an A). Programs are different. My education came from mostly PhD prepared nurses at a medical university. The ADNs near me come from mostly BSN prepared nurses at the local community college for the combined total cost of just 1 of my semesters. Today we are all fighting for the same spots to take the NCLEX. Next month we will be taking care of the same patients. Nursing is a team sport and we are all in this together. I've learned from ADNs, I've certainly learned from diploma nurses - they have all the good tricks - and I've learned from BSNs. Our education is ours to use to the best of our ability. At the end of the day we are all RNs. There really is a lot of the nurses eat their young stuff.

As a single mom - ADNs have their place. They have to be properly trained because they can and do pass the NCLEX. The programs are usually less expensive and usually take less time to complete them (getting the nurses to work faster, with less $$ out of pocket). Its a super important option to get nurses trained and out there practicing where we need them.

I really do get your frustration - but we can't direct it at the ADNs because it isn't their fault we chose the longer / harder / more expensive / whatever program. That's our choice. Its also our choice to reach down to help someone else up and to reach up to be helped up. We need each other and now more than ever we should be reaching for hands to help whomever, however we can. It doesn't matter how long it took or how much it cost to get where we are - it only matters that we are here now and we need to respect and appreciate each other for our similarities and differences.

Edited by bitter_betsy

48 minutes ago, StudentNurseMNUS said:

... Community college courses are in not in any form as difficult or challenging as the courses offered in a four year university. ...

And you base this on what?

27 minutes ago, Uroboros said:

... but the professional standard has always been an undergraduate degree, for any profession.

[...]

A

Which an associates degree is.

59 minutes ago, StudentNurseMNUS said:

I completely agree with your comment. I do not understand why ADN degrees are even still in place, the standard should be a BSN degree in my opinion. Community college courses are in not in any form as difficult or challenging as the courses offered in a four year university. I also find comfort in knowing I will be graduating feeling more prepared thanks to all the hard I have put into obtaining my four year degree rather than just a two year one.

Now you've gone and done it. You have no basis for this whatsoever. You won't be any better prepared than any other student who has graduated and passed the NCLEX. You didn't learn anything special. Your program wasn't special. You aren't going to be any more professional. You will be just like everyone else. And if you don't dial back your disdain for ADNs you will have a very difficult road ahead of you.

Uroboros, APRN

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

5 minutes ago, chare said:

A

Which an associates degree is.

WOW!. What an admirable and well thought out response. If you have anything intelligent to share please enlighten the rest of us?

Uroboros, APRN

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

2 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

Now you've gone and done it. You have no basis for this whatsoever. You won't be any better prepared than any other student who has graduated and passed the NCLEX. You didn't learn anything special. Your program wasn't special. You aren't going to be any more professional. You will be just like everyone else. And if you don't dial back your disdain for ADNs you will have a very difficult road ahead of you.

So the OP doesn't have an equal right to their opinion? One of the major differences between associate and baccalaureate coursework is clearly personal refinement. The additional course work you refer to as something "not special" or 'won't make you any more professional" couldn't be more wrong. In fact I'd encourage you to try some. Nursing is a very unique social science, ever evolving, that encompasses the arts of medicine, sociology, pharmacology, metaphysics, and the like. Taking offense to being told you need more education, is one of the first signs you need more education.

2 minutes ago, Uroboros said:

So the OP doesn't have an equal right to their opinion? One of the major differences between associate and baccalaureate coursework is clearly personal refinement. The additional course work you refer to as something "not special" or 'won't make you any more professional" couldn't be more wrong. In fact I'd encourage you to try some. Nursing is a very unique social science, ever evolving, that encompasses the arts of medicine, sociology, pharmacology, metaphysics, and the like. Taking offense to being told you need more education, is one of the first signs you need more education.

And I have just as much right to mine. I also have a right to defend my ADN colleagues from someone who doesn't "even know why they are still around". Having done both (well, diploma/BSN) and having done this gig for more than three decades I can very much assure you that there is no difference in professionalism between ADN's and BSN's. There might be a difference between people but it has nothing to do with their education. And for the record I went to university for two years prior to going to nursing school so I don't really need to "try" those courses again but thanks for the suggestion.

Uroboros, APRN

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

12 minutes ago, Wuzzie said:

There might be a difference between people but it has nothing to do with their education. And for the record I went to university for two years prior to going to nursing school so I don't really need to "try" those courses again but thanks for the suggestion.

Interesting you mention education makes no difference, but immediately cite attendance for two years at a university as your qualifier. Since you also refer to nursing as a mere "gig" that pretty well sums up your position. Disappointing to say the least, but not even the most ferocious, determined species were able to survive without quickly adapting. Evolution has a way of taking care of things on its own. But good luck!

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