Baccalaureate degree program and associate degree program is both educational pathways for registered nurse licensure. There are several differences in nurses prepared at associate degree level versus the baccalaureate degree level in nursing. Some of these differences include but are not limited to limited to the following, curriculum, education, and patients care. There are distinct differences between the 72 AND credits 125 BSN credits required in each of the nursing programs’ curriculum. The baccalaureate curriculum has a different focus, emphasizing evidenced-based, clinical practice and leadership. Additional courses are offered in BSN curriculum, such as research, statistics, critical thinking, and public health/community health. In addition, the additional units prepare the BSN nurse to pursue graduate study, leading to an advanced degree in nursing (AACN 2008). One might think, “Well I want to be a bedside nurse and not a manager”. The BSN nurse can and does provide excellent direct patient care.
In fact research shows they use evidence-based practice for better patient outcome, another difference in the AND versus BSN level of education. At some point in a nurse’s career, she/he may decide she/he wants a change of pace. The BSN offers that possibility in a short, more flexible path than using the educational super highway and getting on and off at every exit. For some, the shorter and the ability to enter the exit (i.e., then; LVN to AND-RN, then RN-BSN,) are what they need for a variety of reasons. It is wonderful we have those options today, but if you can get directly admitted to a BSN program you have a more direct and shorter route to your overall goal. The BSN offers flexibility to pursue various types of nursing care in a variety of settings within health care (Dianne .s. Moore 2009). Maturity is the disposition to be judicious in one’s decision making.
Due to the acquired knowledge of critical thinking, a trained BSN approaches problems, make inquiry, and decision making with the understanding that some problems are ill structure, bearing in mind that some situations have more than one plausible option, and many judgments must be made based on standards, contexts, and evidence for which the outcome is uncertain. According to Afaro-LeFevre (1999), active thinkers ask themselves such question as: “Am I seeing things correct?” “What does this really mean?” Do I know why this is?” ( Conceptual foundations P.213). Other characteristics identified by Afero-LeFevre include the following:
Knowledgeable about biases and beliefs, Confidence, patient, and willing to persevere Good communication skills and the realization that mutual exchange is essential to understanding the facts and finding the best solutions, open-minded, willing to listen to other perspectives and to withhold judgments until all evidence is weighted, Humble realizing that no one has all the answers, Proactive, anticipating problems and acting before they occur, Organized and systematic in the approach to problem solving and decision making, An active thinker with a questioning attitude, Flexible, changing approaches as needed, Cognizant of rules of logic, recognizing the role of intuition but seeking evidence and weighting ricks and benefits before acting. A nurse with BSN degree has these various characteristic which makes her unique and exceptional from one with associate degree. For instance a nurse with BSN degree can comfortably do the work of a social or case manager without encountering any obstacle. But a nurse with associate degree may find it difficult due to limited knowledge in critical thinking and proper decision making.
Conceptual foundation: The Bridge to Professional Nursing Practice Publication (2011)
(5th Ed). Joan L. Creasia & Elizabeth Friberg
Dianne S. Moor. (2009). West coast university: Deans corner.
Hughes, R.G. (2008). Nurses at the ‘Sharp End’ of patient care. (pp. 1–7-1–35 ). In R. American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: AACN standards for establishing and sustaining healthy work environments: a journey to excellence. American Journal of Critical Care. 14(3), 2005, 187–197. G. Hughes, (Ed.), Patient safety and quality: An evidence-based handbook for nurses