Monday, March 26, 2012


There is a lot of heated debate, especially amongst current Nursing students as to which education produces better Nurses.  BSN or ADN?  So, let's discuss shall we?

Let me begin by just stating that I am an ADN grad and have worked my way up from CNA to LPN to RN.

No matter what kind of Nursing student you talk to they will tell you the same thing.  An ADN student will tell you that Hospitals would rather hire an ADN nurse, especially from his or her program than a BSN student from a near-by and therefore "rival" program.  And a BSN student will tell you the same thing.  Here is a funny touch of Irony, BSN programs better prepare nurses for the type of nursing required in a long term care setting and ADN programs train their nurses for Med-Surg type units and it is usually the opposite when it comes to job placement.  ADN will end up in long term skilled type facilities where as the BSN nurses will flock to hospitals.  I have a friend working at a nursing home that is completely run by ADN nurses.  Not a single nurse has gone beyond the two year mark.  Yet, I met a BSN graduate working as a CNA at a hospital because she hadn't passed the NCLEX yet and since she hadn't gone to a bi-level ADN program she wasn't eligible to take the LPN boards. I was an LPN at the time, in clinicals, telling someone with a BSN that I needed her to do this or that. It was so strange.

Let's try using some simple math to get an answer.  I googled the number of credit hours required to obtain a BSN. I wanted a middle of the road number so I picked Oklahoma City University which, geographically speaking, is pretty well in the middle.  They say it takes 124 credit hours for a BSN.  Any arguments? My college requires 72 hours of Nursing credits in order to graduate.  I graduated with 129 credit hours.  That's just how the system works, between prereqs and liberal arts/humanities electives needed in order to apply, I ended up with 5 more hours than is needed to hold a BSN. So, mathematically it seems to be no different.  (By the way I suck at Math)

(I really hope to get a good discussion going from this blog)

I have talked to nurses that are just straight snobs about their BSN and others that have flat out told me it isn't worth shit, I have friends that have gone on to complete their BSN after ADN.  Me personally I believe we are all just nurses. I mean an RN is an RN is an RN, right? If I go on the get my BSN I don't take another NCLEX, same goes for my Master's level nursing... No new NCLEX.  (However, there is a board certifiaction for Nurse Practitioners if I were to go that route)Those of you in BSN programs... your NCLEX is no harder than mine was and, not to brag, but, I'm sure you won't/didn't do much better on it either.  Surely, its not just a matter of initials after your name, right?

So, BSN students get more class time and more Nursing Theory, whereas ADN students spend their time hands-on in clinicals, labs, simulation, etc...  As far as who is the better nurse... I think we can all agree that that is an individual assessment.  My nursing program didn't make me the nurse I am today, but they did provide me with the essential information I needed to overcome the first big obstacle, which was the NCLEX. 

In my personal opinion, it is better to go through a 2 yr bi-level nursing program.  You can start as a CNA when you start the program. After a year you can test for your LPN and start earning LPN wages and gaining real world experience in nursing. Then after two years (hopefully) you can test for your RN and begin making RN wages and building valuable experience.  Then if you must have a BSN or MSN or ARNP after your name, you can continue your education while working and earning a living.  It may take a little longer than if you just went straight through but you won't be new to nursing when you get your MSN or BSN you'll be a seasoned nurse. 

But what do I know? 

As always, thanks for reading.  Share with your friends, coworkers, and fellow students. And comment! Subscribe! Let me know if I'm pissing you off or hitting the nail on the head.

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And special thanks to co-author @That1Murse and to @bigwesyall for his continued support



  1. My wife just got done with her ADN, and had a Hell of a time finding a job. In their pursuit of Magnet Status, most of the area hospitals have decided that they will no longer hire new grad ADNs. BSN only (though they tend to make exceptions for people who already work at the hospital as nurse techs).

    As far as which new grads seem more competent when they start... I lean toward ADNs (but I'm probably a bit biased). A lot of the BSNs seem afraid to touch or talk to patients.

  2. I haven't heard about that around here. Seems pretty short sighted. Where do you live?

  3. Agree with PharmNerd. It's so hard for new grads to find jobs here (SF Bay Area) and since there are so many BSN nurses, ADN nurses are really having a hard time getting jobs in acute care settings. Lots of hospitals want magnet status and you need a certain percentage of your nurses to have their BSN. Also, some hospitals (not mine, grr) pay BSN nurses more than ADN nurses. I worked hard for my BSN and am proud of it. Maybe all those fluffy extra non-nursing classes required for a bachelor's degree (like that dance appreciation class I took), mean nothing now, but somehow I bought into the BSN making me more "well-rounded". I agree ADN nurses do have more skills right out of school, but what're you going to learn on the floor when you're in a new grad program - skills or theory? I doubt after school you're refreshing on theory, but you'll always have time to master skills. The notion that BSN nurses can't talk to patients or are scared of them, might apply to almost any new grad nurse, maybe more so to BSN nurses since they do have less clinical time (or so I'm told), but in time, they'll learn patient interaction. *shrug* Just my $.02 I guess. Have you ever read Patricia Benner's Call To Change? I think you can read it here:
    I'm working on my MSN now, in nursing education, mostly because if I want to teach some day, I need those letters behind my name. I don't think this degree will make me a better nurse clinically, but maybe will help me have connections and access to more information that I can use as a resource down the line? Who knows? When it comes down to it, an ADN, BSN or MSN program doesn't shape your bedside manner, that's all your personality and so much of what a patient considers a good nurse. All nurses will (hopefully) learn critical thinking/clinical reasoning, and be able to interpret changes in their patients' statuses, but how you interact with your patient/co-workers/team is all you. Stuff like that can't be taught.

  4. I'm in the Midwest / Great Lakes area... Luckily, my wife did find a job in one of the smaller hospitals, and was already enrolled to get her BSN before even taking her boards.

  5. What is this "magnet status"? Someone please educate me.

  6. Having "magnet status" means the hospital meets a bunch of criteria that qualifies them to be one of the best of the best. I don't know what all those criteria are, but they're probably here somewhere:

  7. Oh, well our hospital sucks... thats probably why I've never heard of that. We're more like "refrigerator magnet" status. I do intend on getting my BSN and maybe even MSN if all goes well. But with babies on the way et such... However, I was recently offered a DON position, which I turned down, and I only have an ADN. Jobs are out there.

  8. Anonymous27/3/12 21:24

    I have my BSN and worked my butt off for it. I think we all agree that there are shitty BSN nurses just like there are shitty ADN nurses. Likewise there are amazing nurses in both categories. I notice a lot of nurses going for specialty certificates like their CCRN, CFN , CEN etc.( yes I like those letters too lol), it's interesting that some think those letters somehow hold more credibility than a bachelors degree does. Of course a BSN is not the same thing as an ADN... If it was, it wouldn't have a different name or require additional education. Nurses have done a LOT of things to further the legitimacy of our PROFESSION. We are in fact one of the most respected and trusted professions out there. There has been some talk of requiring a minimum educational requirement of a bachelors degree. I'm not sure if that's something I necessarily agree with but a social worker usually needs a masters to work in a hospital, same with a speech therapist. The minimum standard for a physical therapist here? A doctorate! It's an old debate, but I love the discussion!

  9. Anonymous31/3/12 14:54

    I think it depends on where you live. In smaller cities with smaller hospitals, etc., a BSN would be unnecessary. If you live somewhere where a BSN is preferred to an ADN for your preferred job opportunities, then you might want those letters. I would suggest looking into THAT before deciding. Where I live, I can get a job with my ADN, and I've moved up into multiple supervisor positions with no problems, sometimes beating out BSN nurses. Nursing school was hard enough, if I don't need a BSN or a MSN to get a better job, why do it? (I also hear MSN teachers don't make any more than they would working on a hospital floor! Could be hearsay...) I fully agree with the "NCLEX is the same for everyone" idea. I've had friends that flunked out of one bi-level program move on to another bi-level program to finish school and have heard them say that one school is better/easier/harder/more clinicals/less learning, etc., and I want to tell them that it doesn't matter where you go, the NCLEX will be the same! If you can't pass in one school, you should probably just quit. I've worked with plenty of dumb nurses. The "weeding out" process needs some tweaking.

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