Associate In Nursing (ASN)

With a steady increase in demand for registered nurses (RNs), more and more people are looking to get into the profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for RNs will grow at 9% from 2020 to 2030.

Many positions need to be filled, and thankfully, there are different ways to become an RN. However, bagging an ADN is the fastest way to the illustrious RN profession.

The question then is, “How do I earn an Associate Degree in Nursing?” That’s where the associate degree nursing program comes in. Our guide takes you through all the essentials of the associate degree nursing course and every other thing you need to know about becoming an RN via this route.

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Associate Degree of Nursing Program Overview

Earning an associate’s degree is one of the most popular ways of receiving nursing education. The reason for this is the short study duration of 21 to 24 months. After graduation, nursing students have to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) before getting started.

When you find a registered nursing program of your choice, you can send in a fall semester application or a spring semester application.

Nursing students attending an associate’s degree program will learn the fundamentals of nursing. These fundamentals will include both nursing theory and clinical training, which are both needed for nursing care. So as an NCLEX RN, you have all it takes to practice in health care facilities.

Even though you can get a full RN license with a two-year associate degree, healthcare employers prefer nurses with bachelor’s degrees in their employment process. However, an associate degree program is a great way to avoid getting into student debts and still get clinical training experience.

If you decide to go this route and wish to advance your degree later, several bridge programs cater for that. We’ll talk more about this later.

What’s an ADN, and Why Should I Apply for One?

A two-year associate’s degree is the fastest way to becoming a registered nurse. The program not only offers a quick route to the nursing profession, but it also covers all relevant topics stipulated by regulation standards.

Several types of nurses work in healthcare facilities, and popular ones include licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), registered nurses (RNs), and nurse practitioners (NPs). Studying for an ADN offers a chance to get into registered nursing and find out if it’s something you like before investing extra years on a more advanced degree.

When attending an accredited nursing school, you’ll study general education courses, nursing theory, human anatomy, and clinical practice. An associate degree nursing program has a total of 70 credits, which is 50 credits less than what you need to earn a BSc.

Unlike LPN programs, you’ll still achieve what’s needed for obtaining an RN license. LPNs looking to advance their nursing careers should consider a bridge program to earn an associate’s degree.

Associate Degree in Nursing Program vs Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

The ADN study program and the BSN program are two of the most common ways of becoming a registered nurse. You earn an ADN degree with an ADN program, while you get the Bachelor of Science in Nursing with a BSN program.

Even though the programs differ, graduates qualify for RN licensure after passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Some employers specifically request BSN degrees, but many still recruit registered nurses who graduated from an associate degree nursing course.

Advantages of an ADN Program over a BSN Program

Going for an ADN may prove helpful for many people wanting to get into the nursing profession. It’s an important start that requires less money and time to complete. This way, nursing students can get started and earn a wage faster than students of a BSN program.

It’s common that nurses first earn an associate’s degree and spend some years working before studying for a bachelor’s. Also, bridge programs exist to help RNs looking to advance their careers and degrees.

Some other advantages of attending an ADN study program include:

  • Short study duration
  • Provides enough credits for RN licensure
  • Considerably cheaper than the bachelor programs
  • Ability to start the job faster
  • Admission requirements are easier for applicants
  • Work experience that helps with career decision
  • Bridge programs for further education
  • Some employers pay for continuing education
  • Faster practical experience than other routes

Disadvantages of ADN Program Compared to BSN Program

Although you’ll find opportunities with an associate’s degree, nursing is a complex job, which requires critical thinking and lots of knowledge. Staying in a nursing program longer helps prepare graduates better as they receive more valuable education in the nursing field.

Employers prefer higher levels of education as they typically involve more training before starting the job. This preference shows in the compensation offered to RNs. Employers look at it this way: a college student with 50 extra credits has more hours of practice and should make better decisions at work.

Some disadvantages of getting an ADN degree include:

  • Lower salary compared to BSN nurses
  • Some employers prefer BSN nurses
  • Less training before starting the job
  • Poor career outlook without a bridge program

Both programs can be considered good routes into registered nursing, with each having its benefits. It’s important to note that in 2010, the National Academy of Medicine began recommending that 80% of practicing RNs have a bachelor’s degree.

However, your choice will depend on your current situation. If you have some extra money to spend, going for a bachelor’s might be the better option. But if you can only afford less money and less time, an ADN is your better bet.

ADN Specializations

Specializing to gain expertise within a specific field can prove beneficial. As health conditions are complicated, people who specialize tend to earn better salaries and gain more advanced knowledge in managing various health conditions. Even though the nursing profession offers lifelong learning, it can be good to concentrate on one area from the start.

Although a BSN degree might offer more time to dive into an area, students going for an ADN can choose from different areas of specialization. Common ADN Nurse specialities include:

  • Pediatric Care
  • Pain Management
  • Medical-Surgical Care
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Gerontological Care
  • Nursing Case Management

An ADN program is shorter, so it may be good to try the profession out before specializing. Also, you can combine working with a bachelor’s degree program.

Bridge Programs

A bridge program is an excellent option for nurses already working but lack an RN licence necessary for advancing their careers. The program banks on your already acquired skills to widen your expertise.

LNPs looking for the next step in their career will find plenty of options for earning a full RN license. There are programs offering LPN-to-RN possibilities, as well as bridge programs providing a BSc degree.

For CNAs, we also find bridge programs that lead them into a more advanced nursing role. If you want to earn a regular RN license, a CNA-to-RN program should be considered. The program utilizes your skills in helping to develop you into a fully licensed RN.

Associate Degree in Nursing Program Accreditation

When looking for an ADN study program, you must find one accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation is a review process determining whether a school meets quality standards for the profession.

If the school isn’t accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) board, the program won’t qualify for federal financial aid, state licenses, and specialty certifications. The most recent accreditation decision can be verified on the database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education.

You may also check with your state board of nursing to determine if a program qualifies for nursing licensure by the Accreditation Commission. Checking for accreditation is also important when pursuing a higher degree, as you’d want to transfer credits from your previous institution.

To find out more about the quality of a school, you can check the program completion rates and its ranking among other programs in the state. Some schools offer a Nursing Mission and Vision Statement on their website. That could be helpful in knowing the program outcomes.

Application Requirements for ADN Program

You have to meet some application requirements to be eligible for an ADN study program. Often, we find prerequisite courses on math, sciences, and liberal arts to prepare students for nursing training. Sometimes, schools accept credits from the International Baccalaureate program or Advanced Placement Courses.

However, you have to confirm with the school the application process and admission requirements. Some of the most common ADN program requirements include:

  • An application essay
  • High school diploma with a GPA of 2.0. College GPA of 2.5
  • SAT or ACT scores
  • In-person interview
  • Resumé
  • Health Education Systems Inc. Admission Assessment Exam
  • National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Examination

Career Outlook for ADN Registered Nurses

As previously mentioned, the growth rate of the RN profession is predicted to reach 9% per year through 2030. This rate equals more than 100,000 new jobs annually in the nursing department. The tremendous growth rate is because people live longer than before and that many current RNs are becoming older.

The nursing process will move to people’s homes and focus more on patient-centered care in different environments. Patient care is becoming more complex, and a healthcare team must always get ahead with the latest science. Recent graduation guarantees the latest knowledge in the nursing field.

There’ll be openings in many health centers and hospitals with an expected steady growth rate in the profession. Even though more employers look for BSN nurses, an ADN program also offers high chances of landing a job.

ADN Nurses Salary

After completing your ADN study, what salary you make depends on your geographic location, who you work for, and what type of nurse you are. The higher your nursing degree, the more eligible you are for a higher salary.

The most recent statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the average salary of RNs is $75,330. But keep in mind that this number counts in all RNs independent of their levels of education. If we separate BSN degree nurses from ADN nurses, we find that associate’s degree holders average $71,000 per year while BSN nurses average $83,000.

According to the BLS, the highest paying nursing jobs are found in hospitals and government-owned establishments. Specializing and relocating can help increase your salary as an ADN nurse.

Conclusion: Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program

An ADN degree offers you one of the quickest ways into the nursing profession. Completing a two-year ADN course gives you the degree and eligibility to sit for the RN licensure exam.

While many employers prefer BSN nurses, you still have an excellent chance to succeed as an RN with just an associate’s degree. Besides, you can advance your career at any time with a bridge program.

The fact that you can specialize in different areas of nursing makes the ADN even more attractive. In addition to the short program duration and more affordable tuition, you could be on your way to becoming a registered nurse.

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