Posted on April 10, 2013 by in Education Stories

boxing glovesIn nursing school, I received my BSN.

As someone who already attended a four year institution, it only took me two years to complete the degree.

However, if you don’t already have a four year degree, you might opt for your Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) rather than your Bachelors of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN).

After all, in the end, you’re a RN either way.  And hey, it’s usually cheaper to get your ADN.

Why, then, do BSNs have more opportunity and prestige than ADNs?

In nursing school, I was told that my BSN better prepared me as a nurse.

As a BSN, I was told I was more efficient and effective than my ADN counterparts.

However, I disagree.  In all honesty, I can’t tell the difference.

Who has the upper hand?

Yes, I understand the difference between a Bachelors and Associates degree.

At university, we study a whole plethora of topics, ranging from micro economics to British literature, but does that really matter as far as nursing goes?

BSNs and ADNs assess patients, start IVs, work codes, pass narcotics, etc.

Sure, BSNs may be well-rounded academically, but who cares?

We all know education doesn’t always equate to intelligence.

And albeit, I have discussed economics, history, and abstract art with my patients, it doesn’t make me a better nurse.

Okay, as usual, I’m going to give you my opinion, as if I haven’t already.  I’ll try not to get overly philosophical, but I’ll dive in it a little bit.  After all, I love philosophy.

The reason I have “RN, BSN” on my badge whilst ADNs just have “RN,” is, well, ego.

Someone, somewhere, decided that we should separate ourselves.  Why?

“In the end, our licenses are only temporary where our degrees are not.”

They wanted to set up an artificial class system among nurses, giving BSNs more prestige and opportunity.

And, whilst I’m not a conspiracy theorist, it does help fatten the pockets of four year universities.

As a healthcare clinician, I can’t help but notice how my colleagues are obsessed with credentials.

The more letters after our name, the more prestige we have, regardless of IQ.

It’s a system corrupted by ego, narcissism, and self-worship, paradoxically alienating brighter and better clinicians by relegating them to professional purgatory.

It’s a shame that an ADN can’t get certain certifications or move into management positions, even when they’re far better qualified and more intelligent than some of their BSN counterparts.

Maybe I should perpetuate the status quo and pontificate the virtues of the BSN.

But then again, I’d be lying.  Instead of setting up a class system which divides us rather than unites us, we should spend more time on more important issues, such as patient care and nurse empowerment.

Oh, and by the way, the correct way to proudly show your credentials is “BSN,RN” not “RN, BSN.”

In the end, our licenses are only temporary where our degrees are not.

But hey, what do I know?

About Joshua Felts RN

Joshua holds a BSN in Nursing, and two bachelor’s degrees, one in economics, the other in history. If you’re a patient, be careful. You might get a dose of ancient Roman history and a lecture on economic theory while having your blood drawn.

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84 Responses to “BSN vs. ADN”

  1. Profile photo of Brock-MN
    10 April 2013 at 10:13 AM #

    It’s amazing how big of a push every nursing school is taking to drive students toward spending the extra money to get your BSN.

    • Profile photo of marci
      marci 10 April 2013 at 10:19 AM #

      I agree, the nursing program prereqs change yr by yr then stopped the LPN program and made it a BSN making you take BSN classes before you can get in the RN program. now it has changed again and there is a LPN to RN program …with new prequets of course.

    • Profile photo of johnbill
      johnbill 31 December 2013 at 6:59 PM #

      Once all RNs are BSN there will be an increasing shortage of bedside nurses. Many BSN nurses are high school to college and paid by mom and dad, have not had a lot of problems to deal with, and melt down with unexpected workplace issues.

      • Profile photo of Faye
        Faye 1 January 2014 at 10:56 PM #

        @John Bill
        I agree on the Melt downs. At the hospital where I worked for 27 years they are booting the RN’s out of Critical Care areas and hiring new grads. So no real back up.

        • Profile photo of BigJohn
          BigJohn 8 February 2015 at 7:23 AM #

          You guys are right on target. We have three hospitals in my area. We had an ADN program at a local university, but a few years ago they switched it to a BSN only program. What happened is we saw a drastic reduction in the number of new nurses being turned out. This wasn’t because we have a shortage of people who are bright enough to complete a BSN program. It’s because we have a shortage of people with enough money to complete a BSN program.

          I have advanced degrees. My family had money and I was in the military. My wife had a child early and was married to someone else later who was a bit of a loser, and had a couple more kids. She had to work several jobs. She had to borrow money to go to school. She got her CNA certificate, later became an LPN and then later went back for her associates and became an RN. She worked very hard to get where she is and is an incredibly bright woman. We’re old and she’s been a nurse forever now and she’s always acting as charge nurse over younger nurses who have their BSN degrees. She finds that many of them right out of school are just shocked that they work under someone with an associates and have to clean up poop and all that. They are mostly kids whose parents paid for their expensive educations, and quite a few of them just can’t hack it.

          Our local hospitals talked about how they were going to start hiring BSN’s only. That was several years ago. It never happened because we had such a drastic reduction in the number of new nurses being turned out by our local university. They hire new ADN grads from other schools all the time still, because they need warm bodies. They treat nurses poorly, have insane nurse to patient ratios, keep cutting benefits, etc. They can’t be that choosy.

          What does someone in my area get for that BSN? They make fifty cents an hour more than a diploma RN or one with an ADN, if they have the same number of years experience. They might have a better shot at administrative jobs, but that is not always the case. They spend a whole lot more money to get their RN license and most will never recoup that additional investment.

          Will we ever see all hospitals requiring nurses to have BSN degrees? I seriously doubt it, at least not for a long long time. We’re going to see more and more nursing jobs available in the future, and as more schools switch from ADN to BSN programs we’ll be turning out fewer and fewer new nurses. I don’t think places like the Philippines are going to be able to make up the difference, and bringing them over here is an expensive process for hospitals who must foot the bill. Most hospitals will be hiring anybody with a license in ten or fifteen years, maybe even twenty, regardless of their degrees.

    • Profile photo of Retired&LovingIt
      Retired&LovingIt 1 January 2014 at 7:55 PM #

      There is a reason for the push….hospitals are soon requiring all RNs to have their BSNs.

      • Profile photo of BigJohn
        BigJohn 8 February 2015 at 7:50 AM #

        I doubt that happens for a long long time. There won’t be enough warm bodies to fill all the new jobs if all hospitals start requiring all nurses to have the BSNs. We’re already importing nurses from places like the Philippines like crazy because we don’t have enough new nurses. That is an expensive process, and their BSN programs in the Philippines aren’t as rigorous as ours. You will hear plenty of talk and read things about how all hospitals will require all nurses to have their bachelors degrees in a few years, but reality will intervene and it won’t happen.

        We have one nursing school in my area. Up until just a few years ago it was an ADN program. They switched to a BSN program and saw a drastic reduction in people enrolling in the program and the number of new nurses they were churning out. Our three hospitals in the area were saying back then that they were going to stop hiring nurses who didn’t have a BSN degree. Reality intervened though and they still hire new ADN grads from other schools all the time because they are desperate for warm bodies.

        Maybe if they paid their nurses more and stopped treating them so bad they would have an easier time hiring only BSN’s, but that ain’t gonna happen. They’re all about making money, so they will understaff and cut costs any way they can which too often means not giving raises, cutting benefits, changing all the rules to cheat RN’s out of sick day pay and vacation pay and all that. Maybe someday the industry will require all RN’s to have BSN’s, but in the foreseeable future we’re just going to need more and more nurses and our money hungry healthcare industry is only going to be concerned with having warm bodies with RN licenses.

    • Profile photo of Kathy Dundon Merritt
      Kathy Dundon Merritt
      9 November 2014 at 4:25 PM #

      42 years ago I entered this wonderful profession as an LPN. I worked 10 years as an LPN while getting my RN. ADN not BSN. Many hospitals at the time wanted bachelor prepared nurses instead of ADN. In my community our community college prepared better nurses then the University.I have worked with all different degrees nurses and I have to say I don’t see a difference. They tell me a nurse with an advanced degree provide better patient outcomes. I have decided to hone my experience by gaining and maintaining 2 certifications in my specialty. I think that is just as important or maybe even better. I have held a evening supervisor position for the past 10 years. I have acted as a preceptor to the majority of nurses on my unit and continue to be their resource. I am seeing new grads with BSN’s entering the field now and their basic nursing knowledge is lacking so that is scares me to death. Most of them are not interested in patient care, they just want a fast track up the ladder. My biggest question that I would like answered is why did you become a nurse in the first place!!!???

  2. Profile photo of marci
    marci 10 April 2013 at 10:16 AM #

    LOVE the opinion and I agree but I am only an LPN working on my RN while I work on a unit where there is very little difference in what I can do and what they can do… I will get my RN but where I work LPNs are treated very badly.

    • Profile photo of Dionne McNeel
      Dionne McNeel
      10 April 2013 at 10:53 AM #

      I’m sorry to hear that LPNs in your facility are treated badly. I have worked with LPNs in several different places and have loved them. The first time I worked with LPNs was a nurse extern and they taught me more than the RNs about physical patient care and organization. In my first RN job I worked with an LPN who gave excellent care and the RNs had to give her IV meds and narcs. She always felt bad that we had to do it and was always the first to jump in and give you a hand when you needed it.
      You will be a much stronger RN for having started as a LPN! Hang in there.

      • Profile photo of marci
        marci 10 April 2013 at 12:07 PM #

        Thanks so much for that comment, it helps to hear that. I feel this way about CNAs like I was, work so hard too and get treated like crap and they are the eyes ears and nose of the Nurse with all the staffing issues and unsafe staffing ect..
        thanks again and I am working on finishing it is expensive so it is a slow go but I am not a quitter and I LOVE, LOVE my job and my co workers !!!

    • Profile photo of Patty Bruger
      Patty Bruger
      10 April 2013 at 12:50 PM #

      I work with a LPN and love when she is my partner at work, she is the best. Sorry your expierece isn’t positive.

      • Profile photo of rufus
        rufus 17 April 2013 at 11:32 AM #

        I have worked with many cna’s, LPN’s and have learned much from them. We are supposed to be a TEAM.

    • Profile photo of Faye
      Faye 1 January 2014 at 11:02 PM #

      Never ay that you are only an LPN. I was placed fresh out of school 27 years ago as the 11p-7a RN. Those LPN’s saved my hide and taught me sooooo much. About 1987 the hospital was rude to your group trying to go to an all RN staff. Guess what? It did not work.

  3. Profile photo of Margaret Olsen
    Margaret Olsen
    10 April 2013 at 10:37 AM #

    I worked up the clinical ladder. I was an NA, CNA, PCT, PCT II, Nurse Extern, ADN, RN license pending, RN, RN OCN, RN BSN, now RN BSN OCN. I have seen nurses of every variety. However, having a job while you climb the clinical ladder is MUCH better than starting at the top, thousands of dollars in debt. I work with a new grad who graduated from an esteemed university with a $96,000 tuition bill. The test is the same whether you are an ADN or BSN. Why start out in debt or that much debt?

    • Profile photo of rufus
      rufus 17 April 2013 at 11:41 AM #

      ADULT & PEDS. I worked 3rd shift,ususally
      12 hour 7P to7A and not once did it matter that I only had my ADN!!

  4. Profile photo of Dionne McNeel
    Dionne McNeel
    10 April 2013 at 10:47 AM #

    Very interesting point of view, especially from someone with a BSN! I also have a BS in another field but opted for the ADN when I decided to make nursing my second career 20 some years ago. It was quicker, cheaper and the local ADN program had a much higher % for passing the boards than the local university. After graduating from the ADN program and passing the boards, I like you saw no difference in what I was doing than those with BSNs. Over the years I made several attempts to return to school for my BSN but no school wanted to give me what I felt was full credit for my prior degree and my nursing experience. I have finally found a program that does and am enrolled in a BSN-MSN pathway program. It has been very difficult for those without BSNs to find jobs other than in nursing homes in the area where I live especially if they don’t have experience. And any management or specialty position is now requiring the BSN or MSN. I understand the reasoning such as one level for entry and trying to gain prestige and all of that but at the same I’ll go with your conspiracy theory!
    And btw, I sign my name BS, RN! ‘Cause I didn’t earn that first degree for nothing!!!

  5. Profile photo of amelia boyd
    amelia boyd
    10 April 2013 at 11:27 AM #

    I am an ADN and I recently interviewed for a position in a hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. I was told that they were no longer hiring ADNs and I have since found this to be a trend here. I have one semester until I graduate with my BSN but I was unaware of this new practice.

    • Profile photo of cnursecandie
      cnursecandie 10 April 2013 at 7:41 PM #

      I’ll bet th hospital you applied to is affiliated with a university whose colors are black and gold… You should come apply at Nashville General Hospital. They have lots of nursing positions available now and hire ADNs.

  6. Profile photo of Patty Bruger
    Patty Bruger
    10 April 2013 at 12:47 PM #

    I got an associate degree from a 3 year nursing school. Why did they do away with them. I had so much hands on learning I felt somewhat prepared for what I was in for. Students now adays lack in hands on preparation. Takes them longer to adjust to real nursing. So much is put on them I can’t imagine how they feel. and back to ADN vs BS. I went back to school for my BSN but had to take all kinds of filler classes, I enjoyed them but they hardly related to nursing. When I questioned my counselor she simply said I needed to be well rounded to have a degree? I feel as Joshua wrote that ADN is as good as a BSN.

  7. Profile photo of katiemomRN
    katiemomRN 10 April 2013 at 2:11 PM #

    I think that one reason for the push for BSN over ADN is because of the struggle the nursing profession has had being seen as a “professional” career, as opposed to a learned “trade”. (At least that’s what I’ve read as being a primary reason.) I personally can’t think of any other profession in which one would be taken seriously with only a two year degree.

    That said, I was an associate prepared RN for 18 years before completing my BSN. I truly believe that ADN program graduates are far better prepared for actual patient care when they come out of school than BSNs. However, BSN programs teach much more of the theory regarding the quality improvement activities, etc. that have become an integral part of our practices. It wasn’t until I completed the BSN that I understood why so many hospitals (especially academic facilities) are trending so heavily towards making the BSN entry-level for practice.

  8. Profile photo of Julie Hunt Evans
    Julie Hunt Evans
    10 April 2013 at 3:59 PM #

    I am an ADN with 5 years long term care experience and 8 years hospital experience. The academic hospital in my city is trending towards hiring BSNs as they are seeking Magnet status. Therefore, I have many, many applications submitted but no interviews. I know their EMR intimately because I worked on the implementation and supported it for three years but this experience also does not seem to be in my favor. I really don’t want to get my BSN (I feel I am well prepared and experienced already) but have been looking into it. It seems a daunting venture, though when I think about the application process, obtaining transcripts and financial aid, etc. I don’t want to be in management; I want to remain at the bedside. That is why I became a nurse and that is what associate nursing programs prepare you for. As far as Magnet status, it requires a certain percentage of BSNs on staff but certainly not 100%. BSN does not equal better care. Plus, if I could get hired at the university hospital, I would get free tuition which would go a long way in getting me back in school and getting the degree they want their RNs to have. It is all very frustrating.

    • Profile photo of rufus
      rufus 17 April 2013 at 11:49 AM #

      The hassle involved in going on for my BSN and the fact I wanted to do bedside nursing not management is why I did not go on for my BSN. And on the West Coast it didn’t matter. There is too much of a nursing shortage!!

  9. Profile photo of qestout
    qestout 10 April 2013 at 11:45 PM #

    I’m ADN and enrolled in an online BSN program. But here’s what I still don’t understand–you are an RN after ADN. So why do nurses need to credential themselves as an RN-BSN or BSN-RN, when they could just say BSN and be that? This goes for RN-MSN, etc. My instructor had a Nursing PhD and still has RN in one of the many titles?

  10. Profile photo of Julie Hunt Evans
    Julie Hunt Evans
    12 April 2013 at 11:28 AM #

    You can have any one of those degrees but not necessarily the license. I had my degree for 6 months before taking boards, so I could have put ADN behind my name but not RN. That’s why people use both. Not sure why ADNs don’t usually include degree, though.

  11. Profile photo of Annie
    12 April 2013 at 6:22 PM #

    I’m a diploma school grad from 40 years ago. 10 years after I earned my diploma I went back for my BSN. I still want to further my education and in order to earn a MSN (rapidly becoming extinct) or a DNP you have to have your educational credentials. As for making me a “better” nurse–time and experience did that.

  12. Profile photo of Marsha Moore
    Marsha Moore
    13 April 2013 at 7:04 AM #

    I think you’re right about the fact that, whatever the profession, people should focus on doing their very best work, in a cooperative manner. Humans seem to enjoy “one-upping” each other by adding more and more letters after their name. What really COUNTS, in the long run, is doing your task to the very best of your ability. Sometimes extra time spent in a classroom helps a LOT. But sometimes the thing that helps us reach our highest potential is facing each day by asking ourselves, “How can I meet the needs of others today BETTER than I did yesterday.” That little bit of improvement over time results in excellence, regardless of the profession.

  13. Profile photo of Rhonda Lee Lynch Lpn
    Rhonda Lee Lynch Lpn
    15 April 2013 at 7:15 AM #


  14. Profile photo of marci
    marci 15 April 2013 at 10:42 AM #

    after 12+ yrs of service and a brand new 1st time Nurse Manager …..she fired me. She was my NM for less then 2yrs Come to find out they are firing a lot of long time LPNs and told a friend of mine they are not hiring LPNs at the hospital anymore. I look at this as a gift. I was holding on to a rock in a raging river being beat to death and when let go EVERYTHING started moving smoothly I got to take a step back and see what kind of nursing I want to go into which is Geriatrics, I just Love the Eldery and hated work because I feel we could not take care of them as we should. so I believe I have a good letter from a GNP I had worked for yrs ago and I have not slept so good as I do now for many yrs things are looking good and I hold no anger I look at this as an opportunity to finish school and work in a MD office or Elder care clinic. Love this site so I can say what I want about my job I don’t want to post anything negative about my old job on FB because many of my friends still work there. Wow I feel better now LOL thanks !

  15. Profile photo of 2014FutureRN
    2014FutureRN 16 April 2013 at 9:29 PM #

    I am currently an ADN student at a local community college. I do notice a trend in this area that hospitals are hiring more and more BSNs because they are seeking magnet status. Although I have noticed this trend, I am still satisfied with the ADN program because it is far easier on my pockets than attending a four year institution. After attaining my RN license, I plan to apply to a RN to BSN program. So, along with my classes for my ADN, I am taking classes that I need for my BSN. I do feel education is important. During my clinical rotations, I asked many questions from BSNs and RNs from diploma and associate programs. Most of the nurses that I worked with were excellent nurses. If I didn’t read their badges, I would not have known which nurse came from which type of program.

  16. Profile photo of LisaRN
    LisaRN 25 April 2013 at 10:40 AM #

    I myself have a BSN simply because the closest nursing school was a university that did not have an ADN program or I would have completed that instead. I wanted to be a nurse. Very simple, not a manager, ect, but a Nurse. I have worked with many ADN’s and they are great as many BSN’s are. I don’t consider the credentials when assessing whether I believe someone is a good nurse or not. It is their care that determines if they are a good nurse or not not the letters after their name. I don’t like when ADN’s say they are better prepared then BSN’s I think this depends on the program one attends, but I also don’t like hearing BSN’s saying they are somehow better than ADN’s either because I feel a nurse is a nurse. It’s how you treat each other in general that matters, and we should all treat each other with respect for getting through nursing school, passing the boards, and choosing a profession based on helping people when they are are sick scared and lonely and helping them through this experience as best we can.

  17. Profile photo of Shirley
    Shirley 25 April 2013 at 8:19 PM #

    I am an LVN to ADN to BSN and now in a MSN program. Yes, clinically you are not going to find a whole lot of difference between degrees. From my perspective BSN and MSN were geared toward research evaluation and management which is fine but alot of repetition. There are many studies linking increases in patient satisfaction and decreases in mortality to higher educated staff, ie BSN. Take that for what it is worth. I haven’t read them so I don’t know what other variables may have existed. I do think that the major push is that nursing wants to be seen as a profession and that there is not another profession; law, engineering, medicine, that does not take at the bare minimum a 4 year degree. I do not think it is a competence issue as much as a perception issue.

  18. Profile photo of Nicola Crombie
    Nic 28 April 2013 at 10:27 AM #

    I just finished my BSN after 33years of nursing, I got it “just in case”,so I would have every opportunity to find a job with the way things change. When patients used to ask me a difficult question I couldn’t,t answer. I would say “I,m just a nurse,let me ask the doctor”. The other day a patient asked me a question and said “oh, you are just a nurse”. To which I replied.
    That it took a Lot of studying to be an RN of Any kind,does not matter what kind ,I started with a 3year diploma, took 3years to get BSN. But we are all doing the same thing and should Respect one another for that.

  19. Profile photo of Melvin
    Melvin 8 May 2013 at 6:14 AM #

    I went to an ADN school back in the 70’s, already having another degree and being 300 miles from the closes university. Our ADN program got in trouble for having to many clinical hours (hard to believe but true). Living in a rural area I’ve never had any difficulty obtaining employment and why I’ve heard the “need to make BSN entry into practice” my whole career with the shortage of care covers, especially in rural areas I doubt I will see that in my lifetime. I’ve have a full and satisfying career as a nurse and have always been considered a professional in the communities where I live and work the professionals I’ve worked with. I believe the status symbol that goes with having BSN may be nice but it does not make me a better nurse. For those who say a BSN is integral to do quality improvement activities is blowing a lot of smoke. I regularly headed up QI activities at my last hospital and regularly did statistical analysis that Master and Doctoral prepared nurses could barely fathom. Bottom line, it is not the degree but the person.

  20. Profile photo of Ms. Jingles
    Ms. Jingles 8 May 2013 at 3:05 PM #

    I am a LPN and I have been in the medical field since 1998. My passion is caring for people, especially geriatric patients. I am so appalled at the attitude of some RNs. It does not matter what a good nurse’s credentials are as long as she provides good compassionate care. I have worked around some RNs that I could run circles around. But, I am of the mind set that a good nurse is able to embrace the whole team and work for the good of the patient. However, because being an LPN does limit me in the things I can do, I am currently pursuing my RN license.

  21. Profile photo of Debi Messier
    Debi Messier
    14 May 2013 at 8:18 AM #

    I have been an LPN for 32 ! I finally enrolled in college again and am Phi Theta Kappa.. honors.. but honestly, who cares ? When the president of the college congratulated me on my efforts I smiled and stated. ” Geez, all I did was turn my homework in on time”…lol
    I have worked in almost every field in nursing over the years and cant believe I am being forced to go for clinical s …lol Back in my day I worked in ICU ! so.. Now I do case management. I do RN work and get LPN pay. I will have my RN soon but honestly learning for me has taken place in life experience. Experience is the best classroom. The only thing I will say is the Anatomy and physiology was far more advanced than my LPN training provided and to me that made a difference. My nursing skills are not enhanced because I have BSN experience already.. Just not those pretty designations behind my name…. smiles. I already have a specialty and plan to stay and expand my role. I will get my BSN because again, in my area I desire to possibly work in Maryland and they have raised the bar so high educationally that many nurses are forced to jump over it… A NURSE IS A NURSE. advance practice is the only difference… although years ago those advanced practice nurses were diploma nurses who became professional with experience not educational DEBT….

    • Profile photo of Debi Messier
      Debi Messier
      14 May 2013 at 8:22 AM #

      By the way Josh, I couldnt agree with you more

    • Profile photo of Anne
      3 August 2013 at 8:55 AM #

      I am confused about your statement that you are “doing RN work and getting LPN pay”. My state’s nurse practice act would not allow a LPN to legally do RN work. There are big differences in the practice acts of RNs and LPNs. So, if your employer is asking you to practice as a RN and you are not an RN, you are risking your LPN license. Maybe that is not what you meant by your statement, but it concerned me.
      I also respectfully disagree with your statement that a nurse is a nurse. All nurses are not equal in terms of educational background, training, experience, skills, natural talents and abilities, intelligence, personal skills etc. We are not identical components that can be used interchangeably. A LPN is not a AD RN is not a BSN RN. Each has different educational focuses and philosophies. I recognize and value LPNs, yes you are nurses, but your nurse practice acts draw very clear distinctions between LPNs and RNs. If they were the same, then there would be no need for two different types of licenses, right?

      Congratulations on earning your BSN and being in an honors program. You should be proud of your accomplishments. I fell that the right to be licensed as an RN and to add BSN behind your name are things that you should see as significant privileges, not just pretty designations! If earning those rights was easy, everyone could do it. Best of luck in your future role as an RN-BSN!

  22. Profile photo of Stacey
    Stacey 2 August 2013 at 6:19 PM #

    About this ADN vs. BSN… When our employer’s give us a pay increase for a BSN I will jump. I do not want to manage, but teaching would be nice and that’s a MSN! Always more money and time. I am an ADN; working in an ICU, with the BIG DOGS. Holding my own. The only problem is that every state I want to move to is forcing Nurses into BSN by 2018. I have 2 son’s in college, money is tight now! I do not believe that more thesis papers would help me be a “better” Nurse. Patience and kindness is the key.

  23. Profile photo of Susan Glazewski-Nance
    Susan Glazewski-Nance
    2 August 2013 at 7:06 PM #

    I have been a Nurse for 33yrs. I took the SAME state boards as the BSN’s and Passed. Now I may have to go back to school! Do my yrs of experience MEAN nothing! I’m a Good Nurse, I do a Good job etc…… If we annot work as ADN’s let’s close those program’s.

  24. Profile photo of jmearse
    jmearse 3 August 2013 at 11:52 AM #

    As to the “badge” thing in the OP above, my badge just says “RN”, even though I have an MSN and an MA. Never been to hung up about it.

  25. Profile photo of 2015futureRN
    2015futureRN 22 August 2013 at 10:08 PM #

    I live on the east coast where getting your ADN in you have to jump over so many hurdles. I am taking my prereq’s in getting my ADN due to cost but trying to get into this field is extremely challenging. First not every will get into the nursing cohort of the starting season without completing the 45 credits that is needed. Then you have to apply to the nursing program that is very restrictive. Some schools only have limited amount of seating with thousands of applications. I would rather get my BSN but even that you have to wait. Not sure how it is on the East coast or Midwest but here on the West coast there’s not enough school or spots open for nursing and too many people trying to get into the field…but I still pus
    h on.

  26. Profile photo of 2015futureRN
    2015futureRN 22 August 2013 at 10:09 PM #

    I live on the West coast where getting your ADN in you have to jump over so many hurdles. I am taking my prereq’s in getting my ADN due to cost but trying to get into this field is extremely challenging. First not every will get into the nursing cohort of the starting season without completing the 45 credits that is needed. Then you have to apply to the nursing program that is very restrictive. Some schools only have limited amount of seating with thousands of applications. I would rather get my BSN but even that you have to wait. Not sure how it is on the East coast or Midwest but here on the West coast there’s not enough school or spots open for nursing and too many people trying to get into the field…but I still pus
    h on.

  27. Profile photo of Nancy W
    Nancy W
    11 September 2013 at 3:21 PM #

    I never received a dollar, not even ten cents more for my BSN. And, not a “better” job either. Maybe because I work part-time or the jobs I’ve always been interested in don’t require one. But, it’s a bit disheartening, to say the least, that even after earning one, most employers could care less, or if they do, they won’t pay you for it.

  28. Profile photo of lcourcy
    lcourcy 22 October 2013 at 5:15 AM #

    I totally agree with your comments. When I work on the floor, I could care less how many letters you have after your name. I’m disheartened by the number of nurses who get their RN, continue on for their BSN-MSN-PhD without ever working as a nurse. Who is going to take care of patients????

  29. Profile photo of SupanurseMO
    SupanurseMO 22 October 2013 at 9:37 AM #

    One thing I’m not seeing considered here – the research shows that nurses with BSNs have patients with BETTER OUTCOMES. This means less hospital-acquired infections, better mortality rates, less co-morbidities. It’s all fine and good to say that your co-worker with an ADN “is just as good as a BSN” but the research does not support this. This is what the IOM report recommending increased ratios of BSN-prepared nurses is based on. And it’s robust research, not ‘sponsored’ by the 4-year universities that provide BSN degrees. I started as an ADN and worked many years before getting my BSN. I was a good nurse as an ADN, but I AM better now – both at the bedside and as a team member in committees, councils and meetings.

    • Profile photo of Jason Hautala RN
      Jason Hautala RN
      22 October 2013 at 6:53 PM #

      It’s been too long since I have looked at the IOM study, but if I remember correctly, it looked at the percentage of nurses at certain facilities who had their BSN (and/or certification for specialty nursing) and compared those rates of infection and outcomes to facilities with a smaller percentage of BSN trained nurses. They did not look at specific patients and see if they were actually cared for by a BSN nurse at either facility, just what the percentage of BSN nurses were at that facility.

      The flaw with this method of studies are the hospitals that tend to require more BSNs are big city, training hospitals, with more staff and residence students than they know what to do with, and every specialty known to man, which will give a better outcome than a small rural hospital like mine, regardless of how well the nurses are trained in school.

      I’m not saying education is bad, but the studies they are using to justify the elimination of ADN nurses do not compare apples to apples.

  30. Profile photo of Julie Hunt Evans
    Julie Hunt Evans
    22 October 2013 at 1:08 PM #

    I think it makes a difference whether BSN was earned initially or if a nurse started with an ADN. I am in an RN to BSN program and learned that diploma students log the most clinical hours while BSN students log the least. Of course you are a better nurse but not just because of your degree; you have years of experience in addition to the higher degree. Is a new BSN grad a better nurse than a new ADN grad? Does the study take into account whether patients with better outcomes had BSN nurses that started as ADN?

  31. Profile photo of Bettianne Kelly Casper
    Bettianne Kelly Casper
    23 October 2013 at 7:50 AM #

    I am a BSN prepared nurse, and I work on a psychiatric unit. While all of my ADN prepared peers are able to execute stellar nursing skills, I have found that they have a difficult time trouble-shooting and thinking outside the box. It’s difficult to work in a tense, emotionally stressful situation when a coworker is unprepared for anything out of the norm, as is often the case on a psychiatric unit. I also think that this might relate to the ADN programs in my area. I’m not impressed with their clinical instructors or experiences, and this could be the prove to be the opposite with an outstanding ADN program.

    • Profile photo of Melvin
      Melvin 10 December 2013 at 7:02 PM #

      I spent 30 years working in a psychiatric hospital and found the opposite true in most cases. Usually we could not find the BSN nurses, who were usually promoted to unit supervisor due to their degree, when the unusual or unexpected occurs. Most of the time they were being locked did only venturing out when the crisis was over. We could also tell pretty much what schools prepared nurses for psychiatric nursing. The school I attended required us to have 30 clinical hours a week for 3 months plus classroom while others had around 30 hours total for their rotation. Not that we weren’t prepared in other areas; I worked in ICU right out of school and also did ER and charge on a surgical floor. I also attended a BSN school and there was a lot less nursing skills taught there than in my AND program.
      Bottom line is if a person graduates RN school they should be an adequate nurse. It is the individual, regardless of preparation, that will determine a really great nurse.
      One thing I think that needs to be done is nursing should go back to the old way of testing where we had to pass a test in each competency area (medical, surgical, pediatrics, psych and OB). That showed true competence in all areas of nursing.

  32. Profile photo of Melissa Marie
    Melissa Marie
    9 December 2013 at 2:08 PM #

    I have a question … I am a “career changer” of sorts. I have a BA in Chemistry a Masters of Public Health and now I find myself wanting to get into clinical practice as opposed to lab based research. I am going back to school for nursing and plan on applying to both BSN and ADN programs… But, I was wondering if there is really any benefit to the BSN programs seeing as how I already have a bachelor and masters degree.

    • Profile photo of MightyNurseTim
      MightyNurseTim 10 December 2013 at 3:01 AM #

      Hi Melissa
      The biggest question will be can you get a job with an ADN? If you can and you don’t want to go into administration someday, then by all means go the ADN route. It is often faster and cheaper. And you always have the option of going the RN to BSN route someday.
      To summarize, if you can get a job with your ADN, then do it and save some money and get your BSN later if you need it or want it.

    • Profile photo of Corey
      Corey 10 December 2013 at 7:45 PM #

      Hello Melissa,

      As a fellow career changer I understand what you are going through in trying to figure out which type of program is best. For me what I found was that the new clinical nurse leader (CNL) programs were the best fit. I believe this would be the case for you as well especially since you already have a masters. These programs are entry level nursing programs but you finish with the ability to take the NCLEX for your RN and sit for you CNL exam as well which is the entry level master’s prepared nurse. CNL is new and incoming for those that want to be in practice in a hospital environment and eventually move into management. I would recommend going to and looking under the students tab for more information. I personally looked at programs in Chicago (rush university) and Memphis (Univ of TN) and several others. They were all one extra semester compared to the BSN and you finish with a masters and then earn masters pay.

  33. Profile photo of Queen_T
    Queen_T 14 December 2013 at 7:16 AM #

    opinions on BSN @ a university v.s online like (college network, excelceor)? lpn seeling BSN

    • Profile photo of Mlea38
      3 January 2014 at 7:06 PM #

      No, just apply directly to Excelsior college since College Network is not affiliated with Excelsior. But, with Excelsior, your clinicals are based in Texas, New York, & a couple other states & all costs out of pocket. So, do sone research first before deciding. Good luck.

  34. Profile photo of Sammy242
    Sammy242 23 January 2014 at 10:00 AM #

    I can Honestly say as a student starting nursing school. Hospitals may begin to require that they will only hire nurses with a “BSN” but from the vast amount of research I have looked into. Nurse shortages are spreading global. Hospitals will soon have no choice but to go from requiring all nurses to have bsn’s to begging for nurses with a simple diploma for the sake of humanity..

  35. Profile photo of ParkerC
    ParkerC 30 January 2014 at 2:34 AM #

    I have been an RN ADN for 30 years and have yet to be able to tell what degree another RN has by their bedside care. Many of them I have worked with for 20 years never knowing (or caring) if they had their BS or ADN. Since I went to school the ANA and NLN has been preaching the need for the BSN as the entry level of nursing. For Hospitals it has been boiled down to better reimbursement from insurance and Medicare if more of the nurses have a higher degree. For our profession we can get more done in congress if our membership has a higher level of education.

    For me though it has always struck me as odd that I would take the same registry exam as the BSN did. Doesn’t that make me just as knowledgeable then? Why hasn’t the Board of Nursing made a separate exam for the BSN graduate if they are that much better educated than the ADN? And the other question has to be asked is why are they then paying the BSN the same pay as the ADN? Shouldn’t they make more with the higher degree?

    There is already a major nursing shortage across America and forcing ADN and Diploma Nurses back to school to keep their jobs and making the entry level to nursing a very expensive 4 year degree is just going to make that shortage even larger. I really wish the morons that make these decisions would actually step back and ask themselves what this is going to do to the Nursing profession as a whole. I know, that would make sense, and we can’t be seen doing any of that.

    I know I will not be going back for my BSN with only 6 years until I retire. Why should I take on a $12,000 debt that I will get nothing out of in the end? Personally I believe that if you have over 25 years of nursing you should automatically be grandfathered to the equivilent rank of BSN.

  36. Profile photo of MeowKitty
    MeowKitty 2 February 2014 at 12:18 AM #

    I am a 40 year old mom who decided to change her career midlife. Since I never attended college after high school I realized that I had only one chance to gain my RN so I went straight for my BSN. Honestly, Im proud of my achieving this goal. I am one semester away from graduating and I am thankful I went the BSN route.

    THe other day I had just left my clinical and a women wearing scrubs started up a conversation with me. She asked me if I was a nurse and I replied I was a nursing student. She then replied she was an RN and moments later came clean and said she was a medical assistant (although she feels she does more work than a nurse). Huh???? I find that comment so incredibly frustrating! I just sacrificed my previous career, juggled 4 kids and husband and maintained a 3.6 at a very competitive private university. I worked my a*s off for this degree and find those comments so arrogant. – Just my little vent — :)

  37. Profile photo of Eilimint
    Eilimint 2 February 2014 at 7:52 AM #

    I disagree. BSN degrees better prepares future nurses to enter into fields such as research, epidemiology, genomics, etc. Granted, in the ER, on the floor, or in the doctor’s office the differences might seem few. This should not be misconceived as a similarity. Nursing practice is not the same as nursing implementation. The BSN nurse receives more training in regards to the effects disease and treatment of disease on a person’s life and the community as a whole. Thus is the basis of my opposition; an ADN is trained to focus more on their patient at that moment while the BSN is taught to consider the impact of their actions on the patient, their family, and the community.

  38. Profile photo of RNjones
    RNjones 7 March 2014 at 12:40 PM #

    In the Canadian province I live we offer a BN program. You don’t need a four year university degree you can enter the BN program directly out of high school. There is a four year option and a fast track 2 year program. It is not an option here to obtain an ADN

  39. Profile photo of EMcKnight
    EMcKnight 7 March 2014 at 1:58 PM #

    Right on! The only reason I got my BSN is because I wanted to pursue my FNP. To this day I maintain that my BSN was the biggest waste of my time and hard earned money……

  40. Profile photo of Nana47
    Nana47 9 March 2014 at 5:24 AM #
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    Nana47 9 March 2014 at 5:25 AM #
  42. Profile photo of Nana47
    Nana47 9 March 2014 at 5:25 AM #
  43. Profile photo of Nana47
    Nana47 9 March 2014 at 5:28 AM #

    If nursing wants to be considered a “profession” by our feelow health professionals, there is no space for the ADN. Other professionals with a narrower focus are Master’s prepared (PT OT ST). The RN needs to be BSN prepared at a minimum. The LPN role should be expanded (by a few more months of education) to the ADN prepared nurse. Now is the time to make the change as there are currently more nurses than jobs in many areas.

  44. Profile photo of Babette
    Babette 11 March 2014 at 10:37 AM #

    Each stage of the Nursing field should be appreciated from being a CNA(which I am currently) to being an LPN(which I will be fall 2014) to an R.N. (which I am continuing my education to become), to getting my BSN… All of these jobs are very important in taking care of our patients. My job currently as a CNA, is very demanding, and we are the eyes and ears for our patients, we spend more time with the patients then the nurses do, and on my floor at the hospital I work on, I am very appreciated by my Nurses I work with and they remind me of that every day that I work. I feel that every Nurse, should work as a CNA before they graduate nursing school, so they can see what the CNA’s do, and will appreciate their hard work when they do become a Nurse. I cant wait to graduate and to further my career and to one day say I have earned my BSN, and I have enjoyed each journey leading up to that moment. Appreciate each other where you work, teamwork is the key in taking care of our patients.

  45. Profile photo of jeth
    jeth 30 July 2014 at 7:43 PM #

    Please, your telling me that if I complete an online RN to BSN degree that it will prepare me for the future of nursing? Give me a break. My diploma program required I complete an associate degree which required epidemiology, philosophy, etc. For crying out loud universities are springing up every where with online degree programs and accelerated BSN degrees if you already have a bachelor degree in any field. you can’t deny it’s about money for these institutions. It’s experience period. I’m an oncology RN with over 19yrs experience in various areas of nursing. Starting from the bottom up. I function as treatment nurse, social service rep, advocate for patient and family. I even collect data and categorize this information for research for the attending physicians. This so called research about better patient outcomes with BSN prepared nurses was completed by BSN/MSN nurses………no bias there? When I’m a patient I want the nurse that knows what they are doing not because they read about it in a text, but because they have proven experience and have my best interests as there main focus.

  46. Profile photo of ELee15
    ELee15 6 October 2014 at 7:10 PM #

    Hello, my name is Esther and I am currently a student getting my bachelors degree in biology but I have decided to do nursing after I graduate but I am very frustrated about whether getting a BSN or ADN and I feel like both ways have its ups and downs. Im heading more towards getting ADN because I have a bachelors in bio and to also save money and the local community college has a higher passing rate but I am worried that I will not find any jobs (living in the state of Maryland) after hearing that most hospitals only want to hire BSN nurses now. Please, I need some advice! i don’t know any nurses that I could personally ask.

  47. Profile photo of lsbastork
    lsbastork 9 October 2014 at 1:22 PM #
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    lsbastork 9 October 2014 at 1:50 PM #

    Well here I am,three and one half years removed from part time prerequisites (while working a full time plus job) and two years full time (after being laid off in 2012) in an ADN program, on the verge of graduation. I should be thrilled with my accomplishments at age 51 and ready to embark on my new and rewarding nursing career. I am instead however faced once again with the prospects of continued unemployment and financial struggles.
    I was told at the beginning of my educational journey that the end held plenty of employment opportunities for all. But now I am being told that without additional education my chances of gainful employment are bleak. I am not adverse to furthering my education and have in fact already been in contact with an institution to discuss a plan for obtaining my BSN. The problem is this; I can not afford the tuition costs and would need to find an employer who would be willing to help. But then we get back to the original problem, no one will hire me without a BSN. I have been looking around for scholarships but so far I have had no luck. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  49. Profile photo of jennrn67
    9 November 2014 at 11:04 AM #

    I have been an RN 17 years, 15.5 of those as an ADN. I received my BSN in Feb. 2013 after completing an online program through Purdue Univ. I only did it for job security…many of the hospitals around me now only hire BSNs.

    I can honestly say that I haven’t changed anything about my practice since I received my BSN.

    I work with a mix of ADNs and BSNs, and like everything in life, there are good and bad of both.

  50. Profile photo of Shannon Hydroplane Hogan
    Shannon Hydroplane Hogan
    9 November 2014 at 12:55 PM #

    I agree. I have three Associates Degrees and a Bachelors in Science in Social Work as that was my first profession. I took BSN classes this spring to try to open some doors as I have been unable to get hospital interviews for nearly five years now. I spent 8+ thousand dollars and learned NOTHING new in nursing. The classes made my ADN look like Harvard. I have 170 credit hours in a multitude of other subjects and now I’m wishing I could go straight to grad school for MSN. However, most days I think why waste another dime on a profession I can’t even get a job in?

  51. Profile photo of Rick Scott
    Rick Scott
    9 November 2014 at 2:37 PM #

    My wife is currently enrolled in the associate degree nursing program. It is a new start of a second career that she wanted to do yrs ago. She used her first associates degree to begin her career completed her BS and went on to only be downsized after 30+ yrs for the same company. Being too young and not at all financially set up to retire, is completing her ADRN then we shall see if her 30+ years at one company and her BS ADRN will keep her from working at something she so desires. She is also currently working in a hospital as a PCT and keeping fingers crossed!

  52. Profile photo of Neil Samuels
    Neil Samuels
    9 November 2014 at 3:01 PM #

    I must say, the whole BSN vs ADN is a crock. A big crock. I hold an ADN. I also hold a BA in Hospital Administration, and a BS in Emergency Health Services. I am one of the chief resource persons on my floor at my hospital, and am utilized as a resource on other floors as well. I end up instructing the new BSN’s (and some 20 year veteran BSN’s) on a daily basis. Yet administration has the false notion that a BSN somehow makes a person a better RN, and a much better Nurse Educator. How little they know.

  53. Profile photo of PreemieRN
    PreemieRN 17 November 2014 at 5:12 PM #

    I have been a ADN RN for 10 years and in the ICU setting all 10 years. Most of my years nursing have been on the west coast. I have been everything from a staff nurse at the bedside, charge nurse, transport nurse, and I also can place PICC lines. Many of times I have mentored and precepted new and experienced nurses, many of which were BSN’s. Wherever I worked no one knew whether I was an ADN or BSN. I’d say actually they assumed I was the latter due to my knowledge and experience. This is not at all to toot my own horn, just saying that not having a BSN hasn’t stopped me from advancing in my career. Honestly, I weighed out the cost vs benefit of obtaining a BSN and it didn’t benefit me to go that route living on the west coast with all that I had done in my career thus far. Now, however, I have moved to the east coast and it is a different ballgame over here. Most places over here a BSN is preferred, some are making it required and others may hire you without it, but require you to obtain it within 3-4 years as a stipulation of being hired. I did get a job at a very well known institution here in MD with an ADN. They do prefer BSN prepared nurses, but my experience (and my assertiveness- I emailed the Nurse Manager directly asking about possible positions there), thankfully spoke louder than not having that degree. I just interviewed at another well known institution in PA, but they require a BSN to be hired. Therefore, as said before, if I am hired I will have to enroll and obtain a BSN within 4 years. Personally, I think that it’s BS that I have to get a BSN with the extra time and of course the extra expense. It won’t make me a better nurse having a BSN vs having an ADN.

  54. Profile photo of Tactical Hamster
    Tactical Hamster 19 November 2014 at 5:44 AM #

    I will say I am in a bit better of a position. The VA is paying for my education so I am going for ADN and BSN because both are right next to my home. I plan on later going for my Masters, which will be covered by my GI Bill. If I had to do that with my own money I would just stop as ADN.

    Nursing is just like any career, you have people that are really good at their jobs, and people who are not. Education is irrelevant past most of the basics if someone does not have the right mindset.

  55. Profile photo of Faye
    Faye 20 November 2014 at 7:52 AM #

    Fantastic, well written, truthful article. I returned to school to obtain an ADN, which I accomplished in two years. My class was the last ADN class as the University began a BSN program.
    As ADN students, we were frequently belittled in class and encouraged to return for the BSN and then Graduate School. Please, let me get this degree, already! That was 1985. I watched the caste system as you mentioned grow more and more prominent. Thus, I returned for my BSN, graduating in the Class of 2000. My idea was that I would need this degree in my lifetime to practice bedside nursing. My “idea” is slowly coming to fruition as the Administration at what was my place of employment has slowly terminated older nurses and then those with only 2 year degrees.
    I am told that the ICU, CCU and CICU has a relatively skeleton staff of almost entirely BSN graduates with no experience. Scary.
    Thanks for your article.

  56. Profile photo of Fattiboomboom
    Fattiboomboom 29 November 2014 at 7:22 AM #

    I started my career 20 years ago as an LPN. After 10 years as an LPN, I went and earned my ADN, and have continued to work as such. I have tried several times to return to school to obtain my BSN, but the costs are just too much, and I refuse to take out loans to do so. Out of all the classes I have already taken has, in my opinion done nothing to to make me a better nurse. The only thing that I have gained, is the ability to write papers very well. I also agree that the degree is not needed, and that most of the new nurses coming out of these BSN programs have no real clinical skill and do not critically think very well. I have decided that unless my job is going to fully pay for my degree, I will not continue. I have more experience and knowledge from working as a bedside nurse for the past 20 years than any education could give me. We all know that we really don’t get our education until we are on the floor.

  57. Profile photo of Laceylou
    Laceylou 30 November 2014 at 8:27 PM #

    Let me just say, as a nursing student going for my LPN, with plans for BSN following the shorter, less expensive ADN, this article is extremely informative and really helpful in advising, from a professional standpoint, the rest of my school career. Thank you, OP and every single commenter. You’ve all brought information and opinions to the table that I am honest to God taking into consideration in my decision for schooling.

  58. Profile photo of Gia
    3 March 2015 at 11:29 PM #

    I completed an Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts. I would satisfy the general education for the BSN program, but sciences. However, it’s extremely difficult to get in the BSN-RN program in universities nearby me. Also, the institutions that have ADN programs are finicky. In fact, I’m challenge with their requirements. They give big points to people who have medical experience. I have been working on it. I’m also volunteering and shadowing in a hospital.

  59. Profile photo of Whitney Price
    Whitney Price
    20 March 2015 at 9:54 AM #

    I was an LPN for a few years before starting an ADN program. As an LPN I was often better-prepared than the RNs supervising me, but I had had two years into a BiSci degree before LPN and learned some nursing “by osmosis” from being raised by a nurse. I didn’t complete the ADN; after the first year, we moved. I did more prereqs as the ADN program would’ve taken as long to complete as my BSN ended up taking. I disagree with the notion that all BSNs have less clinical time than ADNs. Clinical hours are regulated by your state BON. Non-negotiable. I’ve taught in three BSN programs and three ADN programs in two states. The BSN programs were as rigorous clinically. One of the BSN programs was strictly RN to BSN. I taught both the first clinical class (Family Health Nursing–family as client) and the capstone last semester (Synthesis in Nursing–including an evidence-based change project in the students’ places of employment). Our students’ feedback was overwhelmingly positive, that they had learned so much, and many expressed concern that they had been practicing nursing without the knowledge and skills gained with their BSN. I have to respect their opinions, as I never functioned as an ADN to have a true opinion about ADN vs BSN.

    Big picture, though, is that nurses and nursing still have a long way to go as far as collegial respect, recognition, reimbursement comparable to other health professions’, and public perception of our true contribution (which isn’t just following doctors’ orders and wait services). The unfortunate reality is that a BSN or higher level of entry would uplift our profession as a whole.

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