A Comparison BSN versus ADN Faculty Role
The ability to shape and mold future nurses – and thereby indirectly impact countless patients’ lives “downstream” – is what makes a nursing faculty career so rewarding. Educating the next generation of nurses is an awesome responsibility that should never be taken lightly.
Indispensable qualities that one needs to be credible and successful in the nurse educator role include empathy, genuineness, enthusiasm, expertise, strong student advocacy skills, a lifelong commitment to learning, and a never-ending quest for excellence. As a clinical instructor, it is my ambition to create effective, nurturing learning environments for my students.
I have had the privilege of teaching in both associate-degree and baccalaureate nursing program settings, which affords me a unique perspective. Both positions have contributed to my professional growth and expertise.
I served in a fulltime associate-degree nursing (ADN) faculty position for four years, in the dual roles of classroom and clinical instructor. I remember the ADN program as being rough, tough, and militaristic. Some of the decisions handed down against students were indisputably harsh, although the instructors genuinely cared for the students.
The faculty believed that they were ultimately protecting the public by "weeding out" the weaker students. An emphasis on retention, therefore, was not begun in earnest until the third semester, out of the five semester program. During the first and second semesters, we often lost one-fourth to one-third of the original class enrollment.
The students tended to be in their thirties and forties and second career, with families. The pressure on faculty was phenomenal and the workload all-consuming. Each instructor had to wear many hats, be able to conduct clinicals in multiple areas or facilities, and be ready "on a dime" to teach a multitude of content material in the classroom.
I have been a clinical instructor with a university-based baccalaureate nursing program now for one year. The BSN program strives to be student-friendly, with a kinder and gentler approach, which is more in line with my personal philosophy of student advocacy. The students we serve are for the most part very young (in their early twenties) and may lack life experiences.
Retention is emphasized from day one, as these students have already vested two full years (their freshman and sophomore years) before getting into the nursing program (which consists of their junior and senior years). There is so much more support available for the students, such as a full time guidance counselor exclusively dedicated to the School of Nursing, a faculty mentoring program for "at risk" students, and nursing and math tutors.
I have also noted an increased emphasis on the professional nursing role in the BSN program. The faculty within the School of Nursing are collegial with a team approach, and there are many more opportunities available for nurse educators to specialize within their specific areas of expertise and for personal professional growth. And, the workloads are more equitably distributed, and thus more sustainable. Instructors within the ADN program run the risk of burn out from the continuous, unyielding rigorous demands.
My responsibilities as a clinical instructor in the BSN program include conducting clinicals for three separate groups of students in just one or two nursing units (instead of multiple areas). Additionally, I am serving in a student support and retention role. I also had the opportunity over the summer to teach an online pre-licensure "Issues" course. Overall, I very much prefer teaching nursing on the university level and am very grateful for the many opportunities to serve and to make a difference in my students' lives in my new nursing faculty role.Last edit by Joe V on Jun 17, '18
Joined: Mar '01; Posts: 12,040; Likes: 6,492
Nurse Educator; from US
Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience in Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, pedsOct 15, '07i would like to add that this is my personal perspective of experiences in only two nursing programs, over a very limited period of time. it is not scientific to extrapolate my experiences to all adn or bsn nursing programs. like a snapshot in time, the article reflects my individual experiences and can't be generalized to any other adn or bsn program, or even any other educator's circumstances. and it is filtered through my unique lens of interpretation. another educator might have an entirely different perspective, even involving the same nursing programs. and, circumstances tend to rapidly change over time. so, what i recollect occurring 5 years ago may not even be valid today. without a doubt, this particular subject matter would make a fascinating qualitative nursing study.
i wish to offer my tribute to the hard-work, amazing flexibility, and tireless devotion of the adn educator.Oct 15, '07Yeah, VickieRN! It's good to read that you are so happy with your decision to switch schools. Thanks for your perspective on the 2 environments.
I'm still in the same hospital job ... and teaching an online RN-BSN course for a local university. I really like the BSN completion population and feel that I have "found my niche" as a faculty member. Having spent so many years in Staff Development, I am more comfortable with the BSN competion program students than I am with the pre-licensure students. My students are like the colleagues I am used to working with and teaching in a hospital setting. I would love to teach full time if I could continue to work with this population of students.
llgOct 15, '07I have taught in both type programs as well (ADN and BSN), and I had a much better experience as a faculty member, and felt much better about how well we were preparing the students, in the ADN program ... So you're right, one can't make generalizations about these things.Nov 4, '07I'm glad you posted this. I have made the same observation after having taught at a community college for an ADN program for one semester. I felt really bad for the students. They start out in the program all eager and with high hopes for a nursing career. Then their hopes fade as they realize how rigorous the program is. They start performing poorly and many end up getting kicked out as the program progressed. I didn't think this was a good way to train future nurses. I say screen applicants well and only allow students with a potential to become good nurses to be admitted and help them achieve this goal. Help each of them to their goal of graduation. This is how I think nursing should be taught. I left as a part-time faculty member in the program after a semester of clinical instruction there. Part of the reason I left was I was about to start my NP career but I would have stayed teaching part-time had I liked the environment I was in. I hope that one day I can go back to teaching. This time, I would like to teach in a university program like you.Nov 8, '07Thank you for your comparison of the ADN and BSN programs. I am a new LPN instructor and have to agree with you. We do lose about 25 % of our class in the first semester. We are trying to be kinder and provide nursing education to support and help each student. I enjoyed your view and have also wondered what the BSN would be like to teach. I am glad to hear that it is a more supportive approach for the students. Thanks, again.:spin:Nov 8, '07So many colleges do not screen well at all and this does cause a lot of the drop out rate at the colleges. Our goal is to give every student a chance. They have to meet a specific level of math and english composition, but other than that anyone can be admitted. This policy does give equal opportunity to all, but it is heart breaking to see so many not make it.Nov 8, '07Thank you for your insight, could the problems with the ADN programs be a contribute to the current Nsg shortage because the time spent educating a class and 1/4 drops out is a total waste of time. If the applicants are screened better and offered the extra assistance that the BSN students get, it seems to me that there would be more graduating ADN nurses, instead of loosing a 1/4 of every class. That's my opinion.Nov 9, '07Quote from pinoyNPI say screen applicants well and only allow students with a potential to become good nurses to be admitted and help them achieve this goal. Help each of them to their goal of graduation. This is how I think nursing should be taught.Quote from MMortonSo many colleges do not screen well at all and this does cause a lot of the drop out rate at the colleges. Our goal is to give every student a chance. They have to meet a specific level of math and english composition, but other than that anyone can be admitted. This policy does give equal opportunity to all, but it is heart breaking to see so many not make it.Quote from paulASU07Excellent points. Many RN/ LPN programs are now screening applicants with professional, evidence-based screening tools (rather than just relying on generic entrance test scores and GPA alone). The HOBET is an example, as is the NET. The hope is that with adequate screening of nursing school candidates, both the retention rates and the first-time NCLEX passage scores will improve. Otherwise, many schools of nursing depend on the brutal "weed-out" process to improve the NCLEX scores (rate of retention is inversely proportional to NCLEX passage scores). I know of one ADN program in my area that boasts of 100% passage score on the NCLEX, but has only a 50% retention rate. As to my former program, since they instituted a professional pre-admission nurse screening test, both their retention rates and the NCLEX passage scores have improved.Thank you for your insight, could the problems with the ADN programs be a contribute to the current Nsg shortage because the time spent educating a class and 1/4 drops out is a total waste of time. If the applicants are screened better and offered the extra assistance that the BSN students get, it seems to me that there would be more graduating ADN nurses, instead of loosing a 1/4 of every class. That's my opinion.Last edit by VickyRN on Nov 9, '07Nov 11, '07Our Associate program was rigorous and difficult to complete, however, our local hospitals know that the graduates have been put through the ringer and truly want to be nurses. They are in demand and often start in specialty areas.
I believe the schools are so hard on the students due to wanting the entire class to pass the NCLEX the first time. I truly think there were nurses who needed a little hand holding, or nudge to be good. Unfortunately, failing them made them losses to the nursing community.
MaisyNov 15, '07In my ADN program, students were treated so harshly, it bordered on abuse. Most of us were in our thirties and we were really too old to be treated this way. It's been seven years since my graduation. Whenever I speak with a former classmate, however, I'm surprised at how angry we all still are, even after all this time.Nov 21, '07I don't know if ADN programs are more prone to abuse or harsh treatment of students as compared to the typical BSN program. It would be interesting to hear from students or graduates of BSN programs, as to their experiences. As stated before, my perspective is very limited and can't be generalized. This whole topic would certainly make a fascinating research study.
Must Read Topics