ADN vs BSN

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Difference in Competencies between Associates vs. Baccalaureate Nurses Tara Garofalo
Grand Canyon University: NRS-430V-0191
April 6, 2014

There has been much debate over the years about the differences in competencies

between Associates Degree nurses (ADN) versus Baccalaureate Degree (BSN) nurses. In this

paper I will discuss my findings and also give a patient care situation in which I describe how

nursing care or approaches to decision-making may differ based upon the educational

preparation of the nurse BSN versus a diploma or ADN degree. Besides the difference in time,

credits and money studies are showing a significant difference in ADN nursing versus BSN.

“Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes

are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels.” (AACN, 2013)

An ADN program is a two-year program in which students learn the basics of nursing such as care plans and performing every day nursing skills, they offer courses that are more affordable and accessible which in this day and age can be a blessing and in the end they produce competent bedside nurses who can sit for the NCLEX. We can thank Mildred Montag for founding the ADN program back in 1956 due to a major nurse shortage after the war (Friberg, 2011, p. 87-88). But some downfalls are “when combined with practical nurses, the total number of technical nurse types being produced is excessive given current and future market demands (Benner et al, 2000). As for jobs they are limited to hospitals, skilled nursing, long-term care facilities, clinics and physicians offices.

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a four-year degree that is focused on theory and research. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that education “enhances both clinical competency and care delivery.” (Rosseter, 2013) Due to more formal education the BSN nurse is more of a critical thinker advancing in daily nursing tasks and avoiding deadly errors. They tend to look farther into the disease process and critical thinking behind it rather then just being a task oriented ADN.

“Programs provide a solid liberal education and substantive upper division nursing major. Both components are combined in ways that prepare a nurse generalist who is able to provide professional nursing services in beginning leadership positions in a variety of settings” (Friberg, 2011, p. 87-88). Obtaining a BSN can open up more job opportunities for a person and in most cases makes you more desirable to employers. Many nurses get burnt out from being floor nurses so if you have your BSN you have the option to move into management or many other areas like insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, research jobs or even a clinical instructor. “Research shows they use evidence based practice for better patient outcomes.” (Moore, n.d.) “ As also stated in the same article “numerous research studies have demonstrated that the ADN and BSN nurses are not different in skill competency when they graduate, but within a year, the BSN nurses show greater critical thinking skills better problem solving, and the development of clinical judgment; three skills of increasing importance for the increase in acuity of patients in hospitals and other health care settings.” (Moore, n.d.)

In the February 2013 issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration, Mary Blegen and colleagues published findings from a cross-sectional study of 21 University Healthsystem Consortium hospitals which found that hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with baccalaureate or higher degrees had lower congestive heart failure mortality, decubitus ulcers, failure to rescue, and postoperative deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism and shorter length of stay. By having the added knowledge from school, it shows in studies that BSN’s have better outcomes with less...
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