Earning an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is a fast path towards becoming a registered nurse (RN), yet many still wonder what the difference is between an RN with a bachelor’s degree and an RN with an associate’s degree. While the obvious difference would seem to be the time each degree requires, there are a few different differences between the two nursing degrees. There are also benefits and advantages to both degrees. Learn more below.
Better & More In-Depth Training
While RNs with an associate’s degree have completed a nursing training program and are qualified to work as RNs, Bachelor of Science (BSN) nurses are better trained and more qualified to provide effective, safe patient care and to meet the medical field’s nursing needs. They’ve not only had twice the amount of education but have also completed a comprehensive nursing curriculum and extensive clinical hours.
Recent surveys performed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) indicate that an increase in the number of BSN nurses correlates with a decreased number of patient mortalities. The quality of care is generally better overall with BSN nurses because they have had more education, training and work experience. Overall, there just seems to be better patient outcomes with BSN nurses.
Time & Education Required
Many aspiring RNs choose the ADN because earning an associate’s degree in nursing takes about two years as opposed to the four years required to earn the BSN. The BSN can be earned in slightly less time if the student earns the degree through distance learning, but the same can be said for the associate’s degree.
Many colleges also offer an RN to BSN Bridge program, which allows an RN with an associate’s degree to earn the BSN in as little as three semesters or one year. The AACN indicates that BSN programs typically have much of the same coursework taught in the ADN program plus more in-depth training in leadership, public health and management.
Related Resource: 20 Best Affordable Colleges for RN-BSN Online
Difference in Salary
Graduates of both the ADN and the BSN programs are prepared to work at entry-level RN positions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that RN wages range from $50,800 to $106,530. Graduates of both programs may earn similar starting salaries. Salaries vary by education, specialty, state and employer. An RN with a bachelor’s degree has the potential to earn a higher starting wage because he or she has a higher level of training.
RNs with a bachelor’s degree are typically among the top 25 percent earners in the nursing field. Their wages are also expected to grower at a high rate in the next few years. BSN graduates also have the option of choosing an area of specialization, which also increases their value and earning potential. Lastly, RNs with a bachelor’s degree are often qualified for leadership positions, which come with higher wages.
RNs are expected to experience job growth of 12 percent during the 2018-2028 decade as reported by the BLS. As of 2018, registered nurses nationwide earned average annual wages of $75,510. While these may seem similar, employment options are the main difference between an RN with a bachelor’s degree and an RN with an associate’s degree, and these differences often make RNs eager to pursue an advanced degree.