The Associate-Degree Level of Nursing Versus the Baccalaureate-Degree Level in Nursing
Multiple pathways exist today for an individual deciding to seek a career in the nursing profession. It can be intimidating to an individual trying to decipher the various educational programs and the relationship of each program to the future nursing practice (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Programs at all levels provide these multiple pathways that can lead an individual to one or more nursing credentials (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). The historical overview of the various programs available can help in building a greater understanding of the factors that are influencing nursing education (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). The associate-degree and the baccalaureate-degree levels of nursing both provide contributions towards the contemporary health care system, advancement of the nursing profession, and promotion of a profession dedicated to lifelong learning.
In 1965, the educational entry point into the professional practice of nursing was designated to be the baccalaureate degree by the American Nurses Association (ANA) (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Three educational pathways for the registered nurse (RN) still exist more than 45 years later. These educational pathways include the diploma programs, associate degree, and baccalaureate. For an individual trying to choose the best pathway to enter the nursing profession, it can be confusing with the existence of the various program types that still exist today. Associate-Degree Level of Nursing
In 1952, the Associate Degree in Nursing was designed by Mildred Montag in to assist in the shortage of nurses caused by World War II. These programs were an alternative to the collegiate preparation of technical nurses (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). A pilot project funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1958 successfully led to a large increase in the numbers of associate degree programs in the United States (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Community colleges started offering the associate degree programs, along with four-year colleges and the universities. By 1973, approximately 600 associate degree programs existed in the United States (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Nearly 1,000 state-approved associate-degree nursing programs now exist today according to the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Out of these 1,000 programs, 652 of them are accredited (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). Designed to be two years in length, the associate degree programs provide academic credit and consist of a balance between general education and courses in clinical nursing (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). The purposes of the ADN programs are to prepare competent technical bedside nurses for care settings that included community hospitals and long-term health-care facilities (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). The intent Montag had towards associate degrees was that the ADN nurse would work under the direction of a baccalaureate level registered professional (Creasia, J.L. & Friberg, E., 2011). This caused some confusion about the roles and relationships among the levels of nursing. According to the Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona, their Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Degree in Nursing programs educate the registered nurse (RN) as a generalist who provides health care to clients and family groups. Their competencies relate to the art and science of nursing (Maricopa Community Colleges, 2011). Graduates from the Maricopa Community Colleges are able to utilizing therapeutic communication and caring to create an environment that achieves desired client outcomes, demonstrate verbal, behavior, and written communication skills that are effective with health...