diploma vs. bsn program, I can't decide...

  1. Recently I was accepted into a lpn to rn program in which i would ultimately be receiving a diploma when I finish in 1.5 years. I have a bachelor's in a different subject and nursing is my second career. In my state of NJ, my alma mater is currently offering an LPN TO BSN program in which costs about double of what I would be paying with the diploma program. Since I have a bachelor's already, I don't qualify for grants etc and another factor is during school, I have to keep on working. Being that I have a bachelor already but in a different field, which option makes more sense? I would have to apply to the program through my alma mater whereas I'm already accepted in the diploma program. Wouldn't I be able to apply to an RN to BSN program later in the future if I wanted to?
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    About soon2beNP

    Joined: Aug '12; Posts: 17; Likes: 2


  3. by   akulahawkRN
    My suggestion is quite simple: take the BSN route. Why? Employers are looking for applicants with nursing degrees. An ADN is a degree. A BSN is a degree. A Diploma is NOT a degree, though it should signify that you are a graduate of a nursing program. A diploma would probably put well back at the end of the line as far as employment is concerned. Employers usually look at BSN grads first, then ADN grads, then Diploma grads. Diploma programs seem to be incredibly rare these days. Be absolutely certain before you commit that the diploma program you're looking at is acceptable by your state's nursing board and will approve licenses to those grads. What is also good to know is whether or not a BSN program "upgrade" is possible for you without going through the entire course (meaning you'd have do an entire program all over again). This would mean that the BSN program would give you credit for the prior learning and allow you to take only those components necessary to earn the BSN degree. If this is the case, it may make some sense to go the diploma route. Otherwise, go directly to the degree. If the overall cost (including lost opportunity cost) of going diploma + BSN upgrade is cheaper than BSN by itself, then you might consider that option as an overall better financial option.

    In my case, I have a Bachelors in Sports Med and an ADN so upgrading to BSN should be relatively quick/cheap, and depending upon entry requirements, I may be able to go directly to an MSN program instead. I still don't know exactly what path would be better for me right now, but I include this because evaluating my path forward is exactly what you should do too, so you can see any pitfalls that may be present and allow you to avoid them.

    Good luck in whatever you choose!
  4. by   soon2beNP
    Ok thank you for your input!!! Yes, the diploma program is fully accredited and recognized and has a few articulating agreements with certain schools in my area...my other concern is student loan max...but that's a different topic. Good luck on your decision as well!
  5. by   TC3200
    Can you get a new-grad RN job where you live or where you intend to live, with "just" a diploma RN? Or would you need a BSN to be hired as RN? LTC facilities in TX still hire new-grad diploma RNs with no experience. Hospitals in more rural areas may or may not still hire new-grad diploma RNs. Hospitals in urban areas with a glut of new-grad college BSNs can afford to be snobby and make BSN their entry-level.

    What state are you in? Western PA still has loads of diploma RN programs within 100 miles of Pittsburgh, and all of them that I looked at in 2010-2012 had just as much actual non-RN science and gen-ed college credits as the community college ADN programs, but the actual nursing courses were all hospital-based. That was the only real difference. All of the grads of diploma RN schools in western PA who have valid RN licenses are eligible for bridge programs from diploma RN to BSN. Most but not all of the local hospitals still wanted to hire the top half of the diploma school RN grads, because the local diploma grads had more actual floor experience than some of the university BSNs, and/or had already worked years as LPNs or CNAa and thus were easier to transition into the hospital's workforce.

    Everyone that I know who got a diploma RN in 2012-2015 who completed a RN/BSN bridge program said:
    1. The bridge BSN degree did not teach ANY new bedside nursing / clinical skills whatsoever. It was all theory, research, and public health, and just writing, writing, writing a metric shite tonne of papers. All of the bedside skills they needed had been well-taught by the diploma program.
    2. All of those diploma RNs attended BSN school while working full-time, and their employers paid all or majority of the cost for the BSN bridge degree, regardless of how outrageously expensive some of those programs were at private colleges.
    3. All said that compared to the stressfullness and the relentless strain of maintaining a passing grade in our diploma RN school (that had a curriculum that veered all over the road and ran clinicals as almost a totally separate set of rotations that were not synced with the lectures), the BSN bridge programs were monotonous and tedious but easy-peasy.

    I didn't finish the program I was enrolled in, because I decided that nursing is not a good fit for me. But all of my diploma school cohort who did finish passed NCLEX-RN and found jobs, albeit some of them moved out he western PA to do so. I think the majority of those just wanted to leave the stodgy Rust Belt anyhow and RN offered a very portable ticket out. In terms of actual. training, the diploma schools were able to give students avenues into clinical experiences that the community colleges could not, just because the hospitals can and do offer more weighty clinical experiences to their own students just because a) It's part of the marketing strategy to overcome the diploma stigma vs. college ADN, and b) They own the facilities so they can do as they please when they please and do not have to beg and plead for clinical sites the way the community colleges do. The only clinical deficit that I experienced at my diploma RN school was they had no actual children at that hospital for pediatrics, so all of that except mother/baby consisted of sim lab work and practice on mannequins. The reason for that was that the other local hospital that they had formerly partnered with for pediatrics changed their policy to "We don't hire any new-grad diploma RNs anymore, so therefore, our facilities will no longer be available for diploma schools to use for their clinicals.
  6. by   Jenbripsu
    I am going to a diploma program starting in Jan '18. I also have a Bachelors Degree...two in fact. For that reason, I didn't feel like I needed another 'degree'. I will complete the RN to BSN transition at some point because I know I will want to advance in my career. However, I will say that in my area, diploma nursing programs are plentiful and the hospital system it is affiliated with is huge - so diploma grads get hired here. So I am not worried about finding a job out of school. You would have to look into the requirements in your area.
    The other consideration for me is that the diploma programs I looked at, and the one I selected specifically, have about 25% more clinical hours than the ADN programs and even some BSN programs.
    For me, nursing will be a second (third?) career. So I didn't want to waste time. I'll still get my BSN, just a different route.
  7. by   soon2beNP
    jenbripsu that's what I'm thinking as well...hopefully when it's time for my RN to BSN...i can do that online and maybe my employer can help me lol