Disparities In Competencies Between BSN And ADN, RN Nurses

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Disparities in Competencies between BSN and ADN, RN Nurses

            In the United States only registered nurses (RNs) are allowed to legally offer nursing services. The RNs have to be certified by the “National Council Licensure” after successfully completing the (NCLEX) “National Council Licensure Examination”. RNs are drawn from both successful Bachelors of Nursing Degree students (BSN) and the Associates Degree of Nursing (ADN) students. Despite, the differences in their respective programs of preparation, the two categories of RNs have to undergo the same mentorship and their entry level income is pretty much similar and close. However, there are notable differences not only in their professional, educational preparation, but also in their competencies. ADN programs are basically short (usually taking two years) in comparison to the BSN programs which take up to four years (Whall & Fitzpatrick, 1989).

The ADN program was developed during the World War II as a means to produce more nurses to meet the rising demand prompted by the war. The ADN scheme was meant to provide concise curriculum on nursing which emphasizes the acquisition of clinical skills that would make the nurse highly task oriented in the clinical set up (Moorhead & Cowen, 2006). Critics now argue that this program can be blamed for low quality delivery. It primarily focuses on hands on skills. As such the ADN program does not offer the theoretical and scientific background required for the nursing profession, and a matter of fact ADN nurse programs lack the competency of applying scientific theories and methods in delivering healthcare services. The ADN program got so popular after its initiation because it offered a shortcut to the profession of nursing within a shorter time and with the use of least educational expenses.

As a result, most nurse pass through the ADN program and even some in the BSN program had to first go through the ADN program. The BSN program is quite different because, firstly; it takes longer to accomplish and secondly; it focuses on the whole view of the nursing field. It offers BSN students a comprehensive span that covers various populations, cultures, community health and it offers a comprehensive understanding of the field. Unlike the ADN nurses, BSN nurses could further advance their nursing career to anesthesia nurses or practitioner nurses and many more (Henderson, 2010). The BSN program provides more courses in the field of nursing theory and these may include nursing informatics, research in nursing, cultural studies in relation to nursing, nursing management, leadership skills and critical thinking. It also includes studies on how to incorporate technology in the field of nursing.

             There are numerous differences in competencies between BSN and ADN nurses. Firstly, ADN nurses only have clinical skills and hands on basic skills, but they lack both managerial and leadership skills within the nursing field. Additionally, they lack research skills used in nursing as well as knowledge on informatics-the use of technological advances in enhancing quality medical delivery. Unlike the ADN nurses the BSN nurses are well equipped to handle technical situations that require critical thinking that may elicit research and the use of technology in providing evidence based nursing solutions (Henderson, 2010). BSN nurses also have an understanding of culture and society as it relates to nursing and they are well able to future health trends and current health requirements of patients and society. The BSN nurses are well equipped with technical knowledge that allows them to work with other high level medical practitioners, and they can be able to question the practitioners that they work under such as doctors to ascertain their prescriptions and medical decisions where they may look inappropriate-a task that no ADN RN can do because of the lack of technical expertise (Rosseter, 2010).

The BSN curriculum gets graduates professionally ready to make critical decisions with regard to patient care. The BSN  curriculum is not only tailored to provide technical nursing skills, but also managerial and leadership skills that can allow BSN nurses to take on leadership and managerial positions within the medical set up-a task that may be difficult for ADN nurses under the medical set up. ADN nurses are also not able to neither make technical decisions nor carry out research. BSN nurses have more independence and autonomy in the medical environment because they are well equipped in terms of knowledge and thus they are able to make critical decisions no their own (Moorhead & Cowen, 2006). The medical prescriptions offered by the doctor after considering the medical conditions of the patient, both past and present, his dietary needs with regard to his/her condition and age considerations. Thus a BSN nurse can analyze factors such as drug reactions and interactions depending on the medical condition and the nurse can be able to even make dietary recommendations to help in the healing process, because such a nurse has some knowledge on how to integrate facts about age, pharmacology, diet and exercise in enhancing the recovery process, in other words a BSN nurse is whole rounded and well informed compared to an ADN nurse (Henderson, 2010).


Henderson, M. (2010),. Associate Degree or Bachelor Degree in Nursing: Which is better-A Registered nurse with ADN or BSN education? Retrieved on 10th January, 2011 fromhttp://www.suite101.com/content/associate-degree-or-bachelor-degree-in-nursing-a195624#ixzz1DXzfjxgf

Moorhead, S. and Cowen, S. P. (2006),.Current issues in nursing, 7th edition, Elsevier Health Sciences Publishers

Rosseter, R. (2010),. American Association of College Nursing: The impact of education on nursing practice, retrieved on 10th January, 2011 from http://www.aacn.nche.edu/Media/FactSheets/ImpactEdNp.htm

Whall, L. A. and Fitzpatrick, J. J. (1989),. Conceptual models of nursing: Analysis and application, 2nd edition, Appleton & Lange Publishers.


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