ADN vs. BSN: Did I choose right?

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I remember back when I was an art student just barely getting the ball rolling on changing my major to nursing. I knew that nursing was what I wanted to do and that switching majors and switching schools was the right thing for me, but the big question was where do I go?

At the time, I didn’t know a lot about nursing schools, other than that the city colleges around my area had good nursing programs. As I looked into it a bit more, I learned that there were LVN programs, RN programs, and that you could get your bachelor’s degree in nursing! Again, it was all new territory. After taking pre-reqs at a city college, I opted to transfer to a university to get my BSN. Since the programs were so impacted, I figured I had a better shot at getting in via the merit system in the BSN program than the lottery program the city college had. Plus, in only one more year I could have my BSN done.

Other than the additional classes, I didn’t really know what the difference was between a BSN and ADN. I figured a BSN degree would be better since I could move up the nursing ladder and get my master’s degree or higher. I just assumed that a BSN degree would provide a better education. I don’t regret choosing the BSN program at all, I love my school, and I think they’re really preparing us well for what’s to come out in the working world. But I have many friends who have gone through ADN programs, or are in them right now, and as I am  comparing my classes with theirs I’m starting to realize that while we do cover the same areas, there are some advantages to ADN programs that the BSN schools are lacking.

In the BSN program, our last three quarters are filled with the “extra” classes, the ones that set us apart from the ADN schools, community health promotion, public health, leadership, case management, all the classes that have to do with a different side of nursing that goes beyond the acute care hospital setting. It’s been very interesting, and more than anything, I am learning about how many different opportunities we have as nurses to reach out an help people in need. But I am noticing that while we’re getting experience in a range of different settings, my friends in ADN programs are getting a much greater and more challenging experience in the hospital setting during their clinical rotations.

Our school only has one-day-a-week hospital rotations, as opposed to two or more, and it seems as though the expectations for my friends in the ADN programs are set higher. They are expected to care for more patients earlier and increase their patient load much more than we are and are tested in NCLEX style in all of their classes, not simply in the classes where teachers prefer that method.

Like I said, I love my school, and I really like how we rotate through everything, but I can’t help feeling like ADN students are getting a much greater clinical experience while in school since that is, above all, their main focus.

ADN and BSN students: what are your thoughts? Do you feel like your school teaches you what you need to know on the same caliber as other schools? Does your school set a high bar of expectations for you?

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