There is an ongoing debate on the differences of nurses who possess an associate’s degree versus a bachelor’s degree. Individuals considering nursing as a career may find some confusion when comparing the two degrees. Both bachelor degree nurses as well as associate degree nurses can sit for the nursing licensure exam also known as the NCLEX. One might wonder why a bachelor’s degree requires two more years of preparation when compared to an associate’s degree, when essentially the process of obtaining a nursing license is the same.
Ultimately, individuals need to realize that each program has their own set of benefits as well as drawbacks. Associate Degree Nursing has also been in the past referred to as technical nursing. It is perceived that “associate degree in nursing (ADN) programs, as a rule, emphasize psychomotor learning and technical skills necessary to carry out basic nursing tasks and medically related functions, and provide experiences in basic bedside nursing.” (Kubsch, Hansen, & Huyser-Eatwell, 2008, p.
375) The associate degree nursing program was created during a national shortage of nursing. “The severity of the nursing shortage in the postwar years encouraged faculty to develop new entry-level nursing programs.” (Creasia & Friberg, 2011, p. 15)
This program gives the individual a basic knowledge of nursing care, the human body, and technical skills. With this knowledge an associate level nurse can safely and competently care for a patient. Associate degree programs are beneficial if an individual would like to obtain a degree in a short period of time.
The associate level nursing program is lacking on in depth educational preparation on the science and theory of nursing. “Baccalaureate nursing practice incorporates the roles of assessing, critical thinking, communicating, providing care, teaching and leading.” (Grand Canyon University, 2011, para. 7) The bachelor program encompasses all aspects of the associate program while adding education focused on teaching and leading in the nursing role.
The bachelor program also spends a great deal of focus on the theory and science behind nursing. An individual that possesses a bachelor’s degree has the ability to continue their education into a master’s degree or doctorate degree. Education plays a very strong role on the ability and skill level of nursing practice. “A growing body of research reinforces this belief and shows a connection between baccalaureate education and lower mortality rates.” (“Creating Highly Qualified Nursing Workforce,” 2012) A bachelor’s degree nurse is better prepared to think critically in high stress situations. In comparison, associate degree nurses and bachelor degree nurses will typically be very similar when it comes to bedside nursing. Bachelor nurses have the skills necessary to appropriately educate a patient at a higher level than an associate degree nurse. Bachelor programs focus on teaching and leading.
This encompasses teaching prospective students and more importantly teaching patients. When patients are educated properly it assists in lowering the amount of recurrent admissions as well as helping the patient to maintain their health. A nurse that is educated on critical thinking is more equipped to perform well under stressful situations as well as anticipating the needs of a patient and their family. When presented with certain patient situations, bachelor degree nurses and associate degree nurses tend to approach the situation from different aspects.
One instance of this is presented when a code blue has been called on a patient. An associate degree nurse will come into the situation very task oriented. Associate degree nurses know that the patient will require the defibrillator to be hooked up, compressions started and oxygenation initiated. These nurses will be very helpful in providing tasks when directed by the leader of the code. In contrast, a bachelor’s degree nurse may come into the situation very task oriented, although at the same time they will be analyzing what may have caused this patient to code. The bachelor nurse will be more comfortable and confident in taking the lead role of a code blue and will be very proficient in delegating tasks and keeping a calm and efficient environment.
Environment is imperative to promoting effective patient care. With ever changing technology and advancements in medical care, nursing proves to be a very challenging profession. Continued education is a requirement for all levels of nursing. “Although many RN programs begin with a professional nursing course in which values are addressed, such entry courses in ADN programs tend to focus more on nursing skills that must be learned than on values and beliefs of the profession.” (Kubsch, Hansen, & Huyser-Eatwell, 2008, p. 383) Bachelor programs focus more on the values and beliefs, in turn making it a more rounded education. Patients deserve to be cared for by highly educated and competent nurses. Nurses should strive to continue their education for the betterment of patient care. After all nurses are dealing with lives. References
Creasia, J. L., & Friberg, E. (2011). Conceptual foundations: The bridge to professional nursing practice (5th ed.). [Adobe digital editions version]. Retrieved from http://pageburstls.elsevier.com/#/books/978-0-323-06869-7/pages/47247548 Creating a more highly qualified nursing workforce. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/fact-sheets/nursing-workforce Grand Canyon University. (2011). Grand canyon university college of nursing philosophy. Retrieved from NRS430V.v10R.GrandCanyonUniversityCollegeofNursingPhilosophy_Student.docx Kubsch, S., Hansen, G., & Huyser-Eatwell, V. (2008, August). Professional values: the case for RN-BSN completion education. Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 39, 375-384. Retrieved from http://ehis.ebscohost.com.library.gcu.edu
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