A nursing career involves many distinctions in regards to the preparations and credentialing needed to become a professional in the field. For example, nurses may be RNs, or Registered Nurses, NPs, or Nurse Practitioners, LPNS, or Licensed Practical Nurses as well as other distinctions within the profession. In order to be able to take the NCLEX, or National Council Licensure Examination. These distinctions are characterized by different job responsibilities and capabilities as well. This paper will discuss the difference between an associate degree in nursing, and a BSN.
Among professional nursing associations, there is a growing belief that the level of education obtained has a tremendous impact for nursing programs at the RN, BSN, and graduate degree nursing levels. It is a general consensus that nurses with BSN degree are well-prepared to meet the demands necessary for the profession in modern times (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011.) Specifically, nurses with this credential typically have sound skills in regards to leadership, health promotion, critical thinking, and leadership roles, as well as their flexibility in working in a wide range of settings, both inpatient and outpatient. In addition, nurses with this competence may be employed as executives, and work in federal agencies, nursing organizations, health care foundations, and the military.

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As stated, a key distinction between the nurses who have their associates degree and their bachelors degree is that the latter have the potential to move into management positions, earning higher salaries. Such careers are highly recognized and may lead to larger pay increases, in addition to gaining a great deal of respect from employees; these clinicians can learn to be true leaders of an organization (Kelbach, 2016.) In other words, for nurses who aspire to career advancement, the BSN degree is a much more likely path to that goal.

The differences between the ASN degree and the BSN degree in regards to competencies are the following: the associate’s degree prepares nurses to provide direct treatment to patients or implement other qualified nursing responsibilities and obligations within the healthcare field. It can also lay the basis for more advanced nursing options (Exercise-Science-Guide.com, 2015.) By contrast, the BSN degrees prepare nurses to work in the majority of medical settings. In addition, having a BSN prepares nurses who want to seek added training for clinical positions that may include fiscal responsibilities, management opportunities, scheduling a medical staffing, administrative duties, research roles, and other leadership duties.

Professional nursing organizations have taken a clear position regarding the importance of nurses pursuing continuing education to the BSN level and beyond. For example, in September, 2013, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released an article in the newsletter regarding “The Case for Academic Progression” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011.) This report summarized the way that the profession, including employers and patients, benefit greatly when nurses take steps to advance their educational achievements. Many articles around the topic concentrate on empirical evidence associating better results to bachelors and higher degree nurses, bridges to educational accomplishments, and promising methods for facilitating advancement academically at all levels–school, national, and state. This was a historic development because it was the first time that leaders from nationally known organizations representing community college presidents, ports, and program administrators have collaborated with representatives from nursing education associations to support progression of academic achievement in the field of nursing (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011.)

An example of the different skills by nursing education levels that might be utilized in a medical setting would be the following: a nurse with an associate’s degree in the field might work a few years at her first job in a nursing home, administering medications to patients, doing exams regarding wound care and head-to-toe examinations of patients’ skin to screen for bedsores and other skin breakdowns, performing clean catch urine samples using catheters to rule out urinary tract infections, and discussing dietary needs with patients. In that same setting, a BSN nurse might be in a supervisory position over the nurses with the two-year degrees as well as over the certified nursing assistants on staff. The BSN nurse might also be responsible for revising the budget for supplies on the unit, while at the same time having several students under her supervision. If a diabetic patient who is not following dietary restrictions comes to the attention of the staff, the ADN might be the person who speaks to the person about the need for diet and exercise changes, takes the person’s blood sugar at various intervals during the day, and monitors what and how much food intake the patient is consuming. The BSN might be in the position of educating the patient and family about the serious consequences of noncompliance with the plan, including the potential amputation of the legs, would be discussing medications available and potentially necessary in the future, and would also be evaluating the cost-effectiveness of keeping the patient over the long term if he or she continues to be noncompliance. Finally, the BSN level nurse would be scheduling and leading case conferences with the staff and family regarding treatment and discharge plans.

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The impact of education and nursing practice. Retrieved from AACN.nche.edu: ihttp://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/impact-of-education
  • Exercise-Science-Guide Staff. (2015). Difference between ASN and BSN nursing degrees. Retrieved from Exercise-Science-Guide.com: http://www.exercise-science-guide.com/nurse-path/asn-vs-bsn/
  • Kelbach, J. (2016). ADN versus BSN–the big debate. Retrieved from Nursing Explorer.com: http://www.nursingexplorer.com/blog/adn-vs-bsn-the-big-debate-50