So… you want to become a nurse. Congratulations! But, where do you start? That’s a common concern for someone beginning their research on the topic, and admittedly… it can get confusing. There are so many degree distinctions and so many letters that sound similar within each one that there is no wonder that a young student would be ready to throw in the towel before they even start. Don’t let that happen to you!
If you are researching an online nursing degree program, then you must be wondering what sort of degree would be best to pursue first… if your career goal is to become a Registered Nurse. Here, on OnlineSchoolsCenter.com, we will start at the very beginning.
Most potential nursing students THINK they want to become a nurse. Studies show that approximately 20% of first year nursing students tend to drop out due to a myriad of reasons, such as failing coursework because it’s just too challenging, or they find that one-on-one personal contact with patients is just not for them after all. It’s true… occasionally after you have experienced some time in a program, no matter what the subject is… you just “change your mind.” There’s no shame in that; however, if you begin with an associate degree program, perhaps if it doesn’t work out, you won’t be out of a lot of money or wasted time. Therefore, beginning with an associate level degree that you can build on is a great idea!
At the associate degree level, there are several to choose from, which are the ADN, ASN or the AAS degree. To be honest, there are very little, if any, differences in the three. However, with that said, the programs may differ only in the primary coursework that they choose to focus on.
But, here is a valid point to consider before you get started: If you fully intend to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN), you should begin with the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. Why do you ask? Because the coursework in the ADN program will better prepare you for the BSN program and the credits earned should easily transfer into a BSN program. Otherwise, with the ASN or AAS program, you may be required to take additional classes to get you up to speed when entering a BSN program.
- What is an associate degree in nursing?
- What about Accreditation? Why is it important in choosing an associate nursing program?
- ASN vs. BSN: What is the difference in an ASN and BSN degree?
- ADN vs. LPN: What credentials do I need to be an LPN? Is the ADN degree necessary?
- ADN vs. RN: What is an RN? Is that a degree?
- CNA vs. LPN: What’s the difference?
- Can you be an RN with an associate’s degree?
- What can you do with an associate’s degree in nursing?
- Can I get a nursing job with an ADN degree? How’s the job outlook for the nursing field?
- How long does an ADN take? How long does an ASN or AAS degree take to earn?
- How long is an LPN program?
Here’s a brief description of each degree:
ADN – Associate Degree In Nursing
What does the “ADN” nursing degree stand for? The ADN degree stands for “Associate Degree in Nursing.” The ADN program prepares students with a career-focused curriculum directing one to a career as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a Registered Nurse (RN). The ADN nursing degree is typically a two-year program. For the most part, the ADN degree is a technical degree that will prepare you for an entry-level nursing position once you pass the NCLEX exam.
What is ADN program and its training? Keep in mind that an ADN program is the fastest route toward becoming a registered nurse – it can be completed in two years. As such, the training including the classroom work, exams and clinical rotations is physically and mentally challenging. Again 20% of students drop out and it’s safe to conclude that it’s because of the rigorous curriculum.
What is an ADN program and its coursework? Depending on the area of focus you have chosen, specific courses may vary; however, some may include anatomy and physiology, administering medications, nutrition, psychology, microbiology, practical skills, bloodwork and starting IVs, in addition to, meeting basic everyday needs such as bathing, toileting and assistance with mealtimes.
What is ADN nursing in terms of its job roles and responsibilities? First, take note that an ADN degree program does not focus on leadership, management, or research skills, only on the patient’s basic healthcare needs. Their primary duties at work include:
- Examining patients, particularly their vital signs, as well as speaking with them regarding their medical history, signs and symptoms;
- Recording relevant patient information so that physicians can make a diagnosis and decide on a treatment plan;
- Delivering necessary information to the patients and counselling them with the goal of improving their health;
- Operating medical equipment that they have been trained to use;
- Perform diagnostic tests and analyze the results, when necessary;
- Collaborate with health professionals in patient care and education, such as in illness recovery and injury management; and
- Administer medication based on the doctor’s recommendations.
While earning your ADN degree, you must also complete all clinical work as required and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to begin your practice.
What is an ADN degree good for? Graduates of ADN programs who become registered nurses have a wide range of job opportunities open for them. In fact, they can work in doctors’ offices and clinics, home healthcare and outpatient care settings, nursing and residential care facilities, public and private hospitals, corporations, urgent care centers, pharmacies, patients’ homes and schools. Furthermore, they can work in numerous specialties including family medicine, pediatrics, oncology, substance abuse and emergency care.
ASN – Associate of Science Degree in Nursing
What does an “ASN” degree stand for? The ASN degree stands for “Associate of Science Degree in Nursing.” The ASN program is essentially not any different from the ADN or AAS degree, except maybe for a few courses. This type of degree is typically awarded by your local community college, vocational schools, or hospital-sponsored programs; however, the degree may place more emphasis on the performance of clinical tasks rather than on academic work.
The student’s curriculum for this degree would include anatomy, social and behavioral sciences, microbiology, psychology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, and physiology, among others. You will be required to complete supervised clinical work, as well.
The Associate of Science in Nursing degree program usually takes two years to complete.
But it must also be pointed out that the amount of time it takes to achieve an ASN degree varies depending on your work experience and prior education, too. Both of these aspects will influence your course work in school.
Instead of the usual 24 months (2 years), you may be able to complete an ASN program in 18 to 20 months. You can request to have your college credits transferred, where applicable. You may also request for your previous coursework and work experience in the healthcare industry applied toward your ASN degree. With the transfer credits, your time in school can be cut short to as little as 18 months. Tip: Licensed practical nurses, registered respiratory therapists, cardiovascular technicians and paramedics can take advantage of this route to establish a new career as registered nurses.
Upon graduation of the ASN program, you will be allowed to sit for the NCLEX exam.
What is an ASN nurse and his job roles and responsibilities? We have to say that their roles and responsibilities on the job are similar to registered nurses with ADN degrees.
What is an ASN degree good for? According to BLS, entry-level registered nurses with an ASN degree can earn between $19.96 to $35.28 per hour. The pay will vary depending on their work experience, length of time in the field, and place of work.
Beyond the monetary benefits, an ASN degree can become your stepping stone toward more career advancement opportunities. Once you become a registered nurse, you can choose a specialization and do your part in changing the world, if that’s part of your life aspirations.
AAS – Associate Of Applied Science In Nursing
What does the “AAS” nursing degree stand for? The AAS degree stands for “Associate of Applied Science in Nursing.” As with the ADN and ASN programs, the AAS degree is similar in that it will equip the nursing student with the knowledge to learn the basics of nursing. The AAS degree is typically a two-year program.
Coursework in an AAS nursing degree program provides training in pharmacology, health assessment, anatomy, physiology, chemistry, microbiology, and medical terminology. Clinical work will be required. Upon completion, students will be ready to take the NCLEX exam to become an LPN or RN.
Emphasis must be made that the AAS in Nursing program is a competency-based program. AS such, students build their nursing capacity through a combination of educational experiences and competency-centric clinical rotations.
What is nursing AAS degree good for? Graduates are typically ready to pass the NCLEX-RN and, thus, become licensed registered nurses, too. Their competency will include maternal and acute care nursing, health assessment and medical nursing, among others.
Of course, the AAS nursing salary is among the top reasons for its popularity! In 2018, the median annual salary for registered nurses was a whooping $71,730 and it’s considered as among the better-paying positions, too.
For Additional Information:
Earning your associate degree will lay a good foundation to earn future degrees, such as your online bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate degrees. If you have completed your Associate degree and are ready to take the next step, we have compiled a list of 20 Best Online Schools for Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing Degree Programs to help you in your endeavors!
For more information about Nursing Degrees and a Navigational Guide to walk you through the ins and outs of nursing, please visit NURSING DEGREE AND CAREER GUIDE and our NAVIGATIONAL GUIDE FOR NURSING OPTIONS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is an associate degree in nursing?
Earning an associate degree, of any type, will allow you to get a good start on the proper education you need to begin your career. You will have several programs to choose from: the ADN, ASN, and the AAS in Nursing degree.
What about Accreditation? Why is it important in choosing an associate nursing program?
In most cases, the accreditation of a school is much more important to consider than the name of your associate degree. It is advisable to check before entering a nursing program to see what their credentials are, as well as the type of program they provide and how it fits into your career goals.
Accreditation should come from either:
- The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or,
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
The proper accreditation will allow you to:
- Transfer credits,
- Receive financial aid,
- Take advantage of the best education in nursing possible,
- Sit for the NCLEX exam,
- Look good on your job resume.
ASN vs. BSN: What is the difference in an ASN and BSN degree?
The Associate (ASN) degree takes two years to complete, while the Bachelor or Science degree in Nursing, (BSN) takes four years to complete. However, if you are already an RN and hold an associate degree, the RN-to-BSN transition will not take you quite as long.
How about the ASN vs ADN comparison? Between the two associate degrees, we suggest enrolling in an ADN program because of its emphasis on real-world skills. Both, nonetheless, are great degree programs toward becoming a registered nurse.
In the ADN vs RN comparison, an ADN can be considered a college degree while an RN is a diploma. Both are considered entry-level and take two years or so to complete, as well as prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN. The main difference is that RN programs are usually based in hospitals although there are also technical-vocational schools that offer them.
As for the ASN RN comparison, it shares many similarities with the ADN-RN comparison. Both lead to the capacity to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, too.
ADN vs. LPN: What credentials do I need to be an LPN? Is the ADN degree necessary?
LPNs typically have completed one year of nursing training, and they generally have a certificate to show for it. An LPN is required to work under the careful supervision of an RN or a Doctor to do patient care tasks, such as taking vital signs, giving medications, collecting samples, and overseeing the patient’s overall comfort level is optimum. If your desire is to become an RN, your credits may be transferable to a bachelor’s degree program.
ADN vs. RN: What is an RN? Is that a degree?
Often the “RN” distinction is mistook as a degree. RN stands for Registered Nurse, which is solely a title, it is not a degree. ADN is the name of the degree needed to start your career.
Typically, you will need an associate degree, often an ADN, if you intend to get an RN license. Later, if you’d like to receive a bachelor’s degree, the RN-to-BSN program is ideal. For this option, earning your ADN is the best starter program for you.
CNA vs. LPN: What’s the difference?
A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) assists the nurses in basic patient care under the supervision of an LPN or RN. The Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) has elevated duties, but under the supervision of an RN. A competency test, per your state’s regulations, will be required.
In 4 – 12 weeks, you can earn your CNA certificate. With a more detailed program, you can become an LPN in approximately one year. LPN certification will require passing the NCLEX-PN exam.
Can you be an RN with an associate’s degree?
Yes, you may… and once you pass the NCLEX exam, you will receive your license. An associate degree will get you started, allow you to get some experience, and decide if you love nursing. If so, earning a bachelor’s degree will allow for promotions, better salary, and the qualifications you need for other nursing positions that might require it.
What can you do with an associate’s degree in nursing?
With your ADN and RN license in hand, perhaps you are wondering who might hire you. After all of your hard work, you are ready to jump in with both feet and do what you were called to do… help people.
The following are a few facilities that always need caring and education Registered Nurses to assist in patient care:
- Outpatient Healthcare Facilities & Surgery Centers
- Nursing Homes
- Hospice Care
- Ambulatory Care
- Home Healthcare Services
- Clinics & Doctor’s Offices
- Assisted Living and Retirement Home Communities
- Specialty Care Facilities
- Rehab Facilities
- Schools and Colleges
- Palliative Care
Can I get a nursing job with an ADN degree? How’s the job outlook for the nursing field?
Generally, Registered Nurses are always in demand. The BLS reports a projected positive 7% job growth rate between 2019 and 2029.
As the positions for nursing are plentiful and you can certainly obtain a job with an ADN degree, you may find more competition at that level… as most employers prefer nurses with a BSN degree, at the very least. Those with work experience or can be utilized in a specialty area are also preferred.
How long does an ADN take? How long does an ASN or AAS degree take to earn?
Typically, two years for all three associate degree programs in nursing.
How long is an LPN program?
LPN programs can range from 7 months to 24 months, but typically on average, about 1 year.