What degree is best for a new nursing student? CNL, BSN or RN?

Nurses General Nursing

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I already have a Bachelors degree in healthcare management and in human resources management. Currently I am a financial analyst but I would like to enter the nursing career field. I am not sure what degree to get. I can transfer my non-nursing bachelors in and get a Masters as a CNL (Clinical Nurse Leader), but I have not heard much about this position. I can get my associate degree RN and BSN in about the same amount of time. I definitely want to pursue a master's at some time, I am just not sure if the CNL is the best way to go! Any suggestions?

snkristen3689

23 Posts

I think that getting your bsn first and gaining some clinical experience would benefit you in the long run. You could decide which specialty is best for you, and you can enter a master's degree program that you know you are interested in. I have not heard about CNL programs either....but do more research on it and if it suits you then maybe you can take that road.

Katnip, RN

2,904 Posts

You're confusing your degrees. The only degree you listed is BSN.

Your degree options are ADN (associate degree), BSN (bachelor degree), or MSN (master degree). After you get your degree (or diploma, if they still exist) you take the NCLEX exam and become licensed as an RN.

A lot of people who already have a bachelor's degree in something else may be able to actually get an MSN.

It depends on what kind of nursing you want to do. Personally, I'd get the bachelor's. A lot of your credits will transfer, though you'll need to take the science prerqs. CNL is nice, but I'd prefer someone has some actual clinical experience before being called "leader."

nminodob

243 Posts

The CNL is masters prepared and is also credentialed (meaning you can add the intitials after your name). Although my own degree is a BSN, my school has a CNL program and there are definitely pros and cons as I see it. The RN portion of the CNL course of study is accelerated, meaning graduates don't have as much clinical exposure as many ADNs do. Some CNLs enter the workforce with a little bit of identity crisis, being tagged as "leaders," and yet being simultaneously a newbie. On the other hand, you will have the advantage sometimes when it comes to hiring - with the current "magnet" craze and the push to have more masters prepared nurses on board you may look more desirable to recruiters. I know that in the current stagnant job market my hospital hired a pack of CNLs and only 2 BSN prepared candidates - myself included. However, they also hired several ADNs. So having/not having a CNL is not the only determinant when it comes to hiring. Because the masters portion of the program takes you away from the bedside, you should probably be interested in research focused work if you head for a CNL because you will be doing a lot of evidence based practice study.

Specializes in ED, Flight.

IF all things are nearly equal (time and $$$ required), I say that the higher degree is always good. ADN, BSN, or MSN - the bedside care is the same. You still time and patient contact to learn good nursing. But a higher degree may offer more options, especially in the long term. Why go back to school later for a graduate degree, if you can get it now for the same effort as another undergrad degree?

sewnew

204 Posts

I am sort of in the same boat as you and trying to decide whether to go with the BSN (2nd bachelors) or the CNL. I am leaning toward the CNL. The reason being that I can always go back to specialize later. When I do that, 2 masters degrees (or 1 masters and 1 doctorate) will look better on a resume than 2 bachelors degrees.

Specializes in Oncology/BMT.

BSN and RN are the same thing... diploma, associate degree, and bachelor's degree programs prepare you to function as a graduate nurse and take the licensing exam to become a registered nurse... a clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a master's option that requires at least one year (but really should be at least 3 to 5) of RN experience... clinical nurse leaders are experts in their area of practice...

peachsnapple

28 Posts

BSN! The ANA is pushing all nurses to get their baccalaureate degree in nursing and will most likely be required to practice as a RN in the near future. Besides, if you want to advance your degree to a master in nursing later on, you will have to have a bachelor degree.

Music in My Heart

1 Article; 4,109 Posts

Specializes in being a Credible Source.

I chose the MSN/CNL route myself. Personally, I think the "L" is a misnomer... the CNL curriculum seems more along the lines of a systems analyst rather than leadership per se. I think the training is very valuable and something from which all nurses would benefit. Upon graduation, though, and for a few years thereafter, I'll simply be a newbie nurse like anybody else.

I have no interest in working in a formal CNL position even after I get experience. I just want to be a bedside nurse. The CNL training will provide a different lens through which to observe unit operations, though.

elkpark

14,633 Posts

BSN! The ANA is pushing all nurses to get their baccalaureate degree in nursing and will most likely be required to practice as a RN in the near future. Besides, if you want to advance your degree to a master in nursing later on, you will have to have a bachelor degree.

Where are you getting this info from? Nursing has been debating the "BSN as minimum for practice" for some 30 years now, and it's no closer to happening now than it was then. Only one US state, North Dakota, has ever actually implemented a BSN requirement for licensure, and they ended up repealing that requirement a few years later. The majority of RNs in the US are ADN-level nurses. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the idea of BSN as the minimum preparation for RN licensure (I'm definitely not trying to start a "BSN vs. ADN" debate), the reality is that ADN programs and their graduates aren't going anywhere any time soon.

BSN and RN are the same thing... diploma, associate degree, and bachelor's degree programs prepare you to function as a graduate nurse and take the licensing exam to become a registered nurse... a clinical nurse leader (CNL) is a master's option that requires at least one year (but really should be at least 3 to 5) of RN experience... clinical nurse leaders are experts in their area of practice...

CNL programs differ by school. Some are for current RNs...some are for second degree people (bachelors in another field) who want the accelerated nursing coursework plus master's level coursework.

At minimum go for the BSN. If you want to move up, you'll most likely end up bridging to a BSN from an ADN/ASN degree anyway. CNLs are also generalist master's prepared nurses. They are not specialized. However, are they expected to implement evidence-based practice? Yes. Shouldn't all nurses....

Moogie

1 Article; 1,796 Posts

Specializes in Gerontology, nursing education.

I think the OP has gotten some very good advice. With the OP's educational and work experience, I'd go for an accelerated BSN program (second degree for those who already have bachelor's degrees in other fields.)

Unless one has prior nursing experience (say, as an LPN) I would be hesitant about going straight to a MSN program to become a CNL. I think one should have some mastery in nursing before one becomes a nursing leader in any clinical environment. Also, as hospitals are cutting their budgets, they might be less likely to hire master's prepared nurses to work at the bedside when ADNs and BSNs are less expensive. All that may change very quickly but right now, I'd tread very carefully before investing a lot of time and money on an entry level MSN.

BTW, the entry to practice issue has been dragging on for over forty years. When I graduated with my associate's degree back in 1979 speechless-smiley-040.gif our school "warned" us to get our bachelor's degrees ASAP because ADNs were being "phased out." BTDT, got the BSN and the T-shirt to prove it!

Pardon my frustration but I wish the nursing profession and the AACN (American Association of Colleges of Nursing) would get their act together and decide ONCE AND FOR ALL which educational preparation they deem adequate and appropriate for entry to practice BEFORE they go off creating new degrees and new titles. Please, this is not to put down associate degree or diploma programs at all. And I'm not trying to dis entry level MSN programs, although I don't quite "get" how one nurse can be an entry level MSN but another goes through the hoops of ADN to BSN to MSN to assume a role in advanced practice. (Does anyone else remember the entry level ND---Nursing Doctorate---that was offered by Case Western University? Confusing. Where they doctors? Nurses? Nurses prepared for the bedside or for advanced practice, on a par with PhDs?) I'm just asking for some consistency and an end to forty years of "discussion". If the profession thinks it's necessary for entry level RNs to have baccalaureate education, it should have the intestinal fortitude to require one uniform educational standard for entry to practice and quit waffling around with ADN and entry level MSN programs. None of this is the fault of the students in any program. I blame the leaders of our profession for their lack of consistency and unwillingness to take a stand after forty years of farting around.

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