Differences in competencies between nurses prepared at the associate degree level versus baccalaureate degree level in nursing.
Which is better? A baccalaureate degree in nursing or an associate’s degree in nursing? Currently this seems to be the rising question in the nursing profession. I believe this argument will be one to be answered by many for some time to come. Both degrees have graduated wonderful nurses. While one program works well for one nurse, the other program may better suit another nurse’s needs. Neither program will necessarily make you a better nurse but there are differences in the programs that prepare nurses for different paths or situations in their nursing careers. One difference in competencies between the Associate Degree Nurse and the Baccalaureate Degree Nurse is the time spent in the formal education process. The ADN nurse obtains their degree from either a community or junior college, compared to a BSN nurse that attends a 4 year college or university.
“There is a distinct difference between the 72 credits and the 125 BSN credits required in each of the nursing programs’ curriculum” (The difference between associate degree nurses and the baccalaureate degree nurses, 2008). Educational competencies are another area where the two nursing degrees differ. Cerritos College website explained that “the Associate Degree Nurse (ADN) graduate is prepared and expected to practice within the framework of the Educational Competencies for Graduates of Associate Degree Nursing Programs as identified by the National Council of Associate Degree Nursing Competencies Task Force in 2000” (Competencies expected of the associate degree nurse). They go on to say “ADN graduates practice within the framework of eight core components and competencies. The core components of nursing practice are: professional behaviors, communication, assessment, clinical decision making, caring interventions, teaching and learning, collaboration, and managing care” (Competencies expected of the associate degree nurse).
According to the University of Texas at Arlington “baccalaureate graduates are prepared to synthesize information from various disciplines, think logically, analyze critically, and communicate effectively with clients and other health care professionals” (College of Nursing, 2010). They go on to say that “graduates are expected to demonstrate all the competencies (knowledge, judgment, and skills) of the preceding levels of education, but with greater depth and breadth of application” (College of Nursing, 2010). “Community health nursing, research, and full length courses in leadership and management are content areas required in the baccalaureate curriculum and are generally not addressed in the preceding levels of education” (College of Nursing, 2010). Distinctly there is a difference in roles that an ADN and BSN play in the work place. “The Associate Degree Nurse is an entry level practitioner and is competent to practice as a direct caregiver” (Competencies expected of the associate degree nurse). The ADN role in the health care setting is to be a primary bedside nurse and provide direct patient care.
The ADN primarily provides care in places such as hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and physician’s offices (The difference between associate degree nurses and the baccalaureate degree nurses, 2008). ADN’s also have limited skills when it comes to leadership roles (The difference between associate degree nurses and the baccalaureate degree nurses, 2008). According to Grand Canyon University College of Nursing Philosophy “the baccalaureate nurse practice incorporates the roles of assessing, critical thinking, communicating, providing care, teaching and leading” (Grand Canyon University College of Nursing Philosophy, 2008). The University of Texas at Arlington also states that baccalaureate degree nurses “routinely begin their careers in structured settings but may rapidly move into community-based settings and/or leadership roles” (College of Nursing, 2010). Use a patient care situation to describe how nursing care would differ based upon formal educational preparation in nursing? I have a hard time answering this question.
I love being a nurse; I don’t feel like because I am now deciding to continue my education and pursue a baccalaureate degree I will become a better bedside nurse. I am employed in a rural facility where I work with nurses who are mainly ADN graduates. All nursing graduates whether it’s from a two or four year program take the same board certification test. The only situation that comes to mind when reflecting on this question is at our hospital we have a chain of command system to leadership. This chain includes: RN manager, Manager, and then the Chief Nursing Officer. The RN manager is the first step if you have a problem or need. Because of earlier management issues finding someone to apply for the RN manager position on the medical surgical floor was difficult. The woman who applied and accepted the position as RN manager was a nurse with an ADN degree.
She was a great floor nurse but when she stepped into the role of RN manager she failed. I believe this was an issue because ADN graduates learn limited leadership skills in management roles. This position would have been better suited for a nurse with a BSN degree because they are more equipped to handle situations in a leadership role. In conclusion there are many differences between an Associate Degree prepared nurse and a Baccalaureate prepared nurse. Nursing is a wonderful profession. Each of us enters our careers with different attitudes on what a good nurse is. The important thing to remember is that no matter if you have an ADN or a BSN degree it’s the qualities of the person whose name comes before the initials that defines what makes a good nurse.
College of Nursing. (2010). Retrieved November 21, 2010, from The University of Texas at Arlington: http://www.uta.edu/nursing/handbook/bsn-competencies.php Competencies expected of the associate degree nurse. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Cerritos College: http://cms.cerritos.edu/registered-nurse/competencies-expected-of-and
Grand Canyon University College of Nursing Philosophy. (2008, March 19). Retrieved November 21, 2010, from Grand Canyon University: http://angel03.gcu.edu/AngelUploads/Content/NRS430V_LOR/_assoc/9F701F8BA94C4C4B9E903CA7CC08B97D/NRS430V.v2R4_Grand_Canyon_University_Col.doc
The difference between associate degree nurses and the baccalaureate degree nurses. (2008, June). Retrieved November 21, 2010, from West Coast University: http://www.westcoastuniversity.edu/content.aspx?id=331