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The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program

There are three major educational paths to obtain the title Registered Nurse: ADN, BSN, and Diploma in Nursing. This article will focus on the ADN program, its difference or similarities with the other degrees, career opportunities, and roles transition.

What is ADN?

In response to the nursing shortage experienced after World War II, the associate degree in nursing (ADN) program was developed. The concept of preparing students for technical nursing in a shorter period of time is the main objective of the program.

In contrast to the BSN program, the student can finish ADN in 2 years time, and after passing the necessary examinations, the student can provide high-quality bedside care in hospital settings. And since it is much shorter compared to the BSN program, the financial aspect encompassing the education process is also minimal.

Most of ADN programs in the country are being offered in community colleges. The curriculum of the ADN program consist more of theory and science as basis for practice, and requires fewer practice hours than hospital-based schools did.

However, the student is faced with extensive clinical hours toward experiences that are necessary for learning rather than apprentice-type service. This way, the student is able to practice more of the technical side of the nursing profession.

The very first ADN programs consisted of courses in nursing concepts, liberal arts and sciences. Back then, two-thirds of the credits nurses earned were nursing-related, and 75% were for clinical practice. Although the percentages have changed over time due to several factors, the focus in preparing the students to be clinically oriented bedside nurses still remains.

Career Opportunities

After finishing the ADN program and pass the licensure examination, licensed graduates are then accommodated to work in hospitals for entry-level positions as staff nurses.

For some time now, there has been a debate on which is the appropriate way to start working as a staff nurse – the ADN graduate or BSN graduate. This controversial issue puts constraint on the would-be nursing student on which program to take. The decision entirely depends on the type of career opportunities and advancement that  you want.

BSN graduates have the given privilege that they can do more with their degree like have more opportunities for advancement to positions such as nurse case manager or nursing director. ADN graduates have also the chance to pursue and continue further education to finish a BSN degree.

Oftentimes, this can happen while they are woking as a staff nurse at the same. There are hospitals that offer tuition-reimbursement programs to help ADN graduates to attain the BSN degree.

ADN trained and BSN trained nurses are often treated equally in the hospital and out-patient setting. There are no substantial pay differentials, and nurses holding either degree have the same opportunities to become a charge nurse or director of a department.

Roles Transition

As mentioned above, there is really no contrasting line on how an ADN trained and BSN trained nurses perform their jobs.  There are certain limitations that an ADN graduate can encounter when it comes to dealing with clinical dilemmas.

With the recent demands in health care system, the nurse is expected and must be able to make critical decisions about a patient’s care, to question the doctor if orders seem inappropriate and to help the patient through, sometimes, difficult life-changing decisions. These very reasons are substantial to make a role transition if ever you see necessary.

There is really no sure way in telling if the ADN is going to be eliminated as part of the education preparation for the nursing profession. But one thing is for sure – if the population increases its demands for health care needs, the possibility of nursing shortage will remain.

And taking the ADN program is still a win-win solution to the problem. Nonetheless, it is a personal and professional development competency that one has to consider in order to remain in the health sector for a longer period of time.