With the demand for nurses at an all-time high and more individuals entering the nursing profession, the question must be posed of what the educational standard for students entering the nursing profession should be? Although this debate has been prevalent for some time, the rising demand for registered nurses resurfaces the question with more emphasis and urgency than ever. While associates degree in nursing (ADN) programs made up roughly 60% of the nursing personnel in 2002, the American Nurses Association (ANA) has been pushing for the bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) to be the standard level of education for nurses since the 1960s (American Nurses Association, 1965, as cited by McEwen, Pullis, White, & Krawtz, 2013; Mahaffey, 2002, as cited by Taylor, 2008). Furthermore, it has come to attention that ADN students are being given the same opportunities as BSN students after graduation which blurs the line between the differing educations and proposed roles in the hospitals.
The increasing confusion between the differentiations of the two education levels bring up multiple questions that must be addressed: (1) is it fair that ADN students are committing less time and money for the chance to sit for the same registration exam as BSN students, (2) is it reasonable to expect the same quality and level of work from an ADN graduate as one would from a BSN graduate, and (3) what should be done to ensure that nursing students are properly prepared to enter the work field? Once again the push towards BSN as an educational standard needs to be resurfaced and implemented.
ADN versus BSN
Traditionally speaking there were two roles in the nursing field, the technical nurse and the professional nurse (Hess, 1996). The technical nurse was an ADN graduate who would administer basic care to patients, while the professional nurse was a BSN graduate who had acquired more training and skill in order to work at a higher level than the ADN graduate (Hess, 1996). Not only have these traditional lines been blurred by hospital employers, it seems as though patients as well as students have also grown to have very little understanding of the difference in the two educations. These lines must be reinstated and the BSN degree should be applied as the standard and minimum education level to work as a registered nurse not only so that patients receive the care they deserve and pay for, but also to make sense of the cost difference, time, and rigor of the two programs.
Less Time, Less Money, the Same Exam
It seems as though the eligibility of both ADN and BSN graduates to take the same registration exam has played a role in the confusion over the separation of the two educations. By sitting for the same examination, ADN graduates are able to take on the title of registered nurse (RN) which allows the graduates to take on the same roles as a BSN graduate despite the lesser education and preparation for the field (Aydelotte, 1991, as cited in Jacobs, DiMattio, Bishop, &...