Your first stepping stone toward a rewarding nursing career is completing the education and becoming registered.
I’ll answer the age old question about how long it takes to get a registered nursing degree.
There are degrees you can choose from: An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and the bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN).
There will be others that will advance your healthcare career later on, including master’s and doctorate degrees.
It is important to note at this point that, if your goal is to take these advanced degrees in the future, a BSN will be the minimum required degree.
Having laid that clearly from the start, let us look at each degree one at a time.
How long will an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) take?
An ADN takes two years for a fulltime student to complete. When choosing the school and program you will take, make sure that you are looking at state-approved training programs.
ADNs are usually offered by community colleges, hospitals and career centers. There are more than 1000 ADN programs available all over the country. Refer to your state’s board of nursing for state-specific requirements.
How do I go about it and what are the admission requirements?
When you have decided on the school, talk with the college nursing advisor so you will be properly guided.
Most schools require prerequisites prior to the ADN program. The prerequisites take around 1 to 2 semesters to complete. Different schools will have different policies regarding this.
Generally, applicants will be required their high school diploma or GED, and a high percentile in ACT or SAT.
It will be to your advantage if you had taken adequate science subjects, such as biology and chemistry, and performed well in them because the advisor will screen your school records and previous education for these things.
The coursework includes inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, psychology, microbiology, anatomy, microbiology, mathematics, humanities, arts, and language courses.
Will an ADN program include clinical training?
The nursing profession requires the ability to handle mild to serious medical cases. Hence, all nursing curriculums have their own built-in clinical training.
Your clinical training will put into practice what you learn in the classroom. Despite its difficulty, it is worth it.
Are ADN graduates qualified to become RNs like BSN graduates?
Yes, an ADN graduate can take the NCLEX-RN exam, the licensing exam for nurses which the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers.
You must pass this exam and comply with your state’s requirements, which sometimes include a background check, to become a registered nurse (RN).
Can I get credits for my ADN degree should I later decide to pursue a BSN?
Actually, you may. Just make sure, as emphasized earlier, that your school and program are state-approved and preferably accredited by the college or university where you intend to take your BSN later.
It pays to have foresight; so inquire on these things before you ever fill that application form for admission.
In your search, you might find programs that are attractively cheaper and quicker to complete, but they could also be dead ends.
Find bridge programs for ADN to BSN. What schools and programs will they accept? What do they require?
It’s not too early to think ahead. You have to make sure now that colleges and universities will recognize the nursing program that you are about to get yourself into.
How long will the bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) take?
The BSN will take four years for a fulltime student to complete. This is assuming that you have graduated from high school and have no prior college (associate’s or bachelor’s degrees) education.
This is the most direct route to becoming an RN. Like the associate’s degree, you will be required to complete prerequisite courses before you start with the nursing coursework.
It must be emphasized that you take your prerequisite seriously. Admission to competitive schools will greatly depend on your performance in these courses.
Those who have had vocational programs prior to taking the BSN, such as LPN, LVN, or EMT, will typically take 3.5 to 4 years, depending on what program they have with them and whether they’ll get credits for it.
Some programs will waive the prerequisites, but may not necessarily award credits to offset any of the courses required in the BSN curriculum.
Those who have an accredited ADN will take between 2 and 3 years to complete their BSN, depending on whether they are fulltime or part-time students, and whether their ADN is accredited by the school where they decide to enroll for their BSN.
There are accelerated BSN programs for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in non-nursing fields.
This is typically a very intense program and one which is quite strict in the admission. GPAs of 3.0 are usually required. The accelerated program takes from 18 months to 2 years to complete.
How do I go about my search for school and program for the BSN?
Inquire from your state’s nursing board about the accredited colleges and universities that have state-approved BSN offerings.
Browse the websites of each of the schools that the state nursing board recommends.
Consider the aspect of proximity to your city or town, the cost, the school’s performance in the NCLEX, the hospitals or medical facilities where students are sent to undergo clinical training, among many things.
Also ask about other state-specific requirements.
Is it important to have a BSN when one can become an RN with only an ADN?
It is true that you can become an RN with an ADN. However, employment opportunities are much better and broader for BSN RNs.
At the end of the day, it is the employer who decides whom to hire. A BSN graduate had longer years to study becoming a nurse, and obviously has deeper understanding of the profession than one who had half the length of time to learn and train.
The ADN program basically has the same core subjects as the BSN. The latter, though, takes these core subjects to a deeper level. They also have added classes in research, humanities, and leadership.
Currently, there are demands from the healthcare industry to take the nursing field a notch higher.
It is anticipated that in 2020, nurses will be required to have a minimum of BSN before they can become registered nurses.
Their roles are seen to be redefined, too, becoming more extensive. This comes from a report published by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) on the future of nursing.
Nurses belong to the profession that helps lessen suffering during illnesses and injuries. It is often said that doctors cure while nurses care.
To become a nurse, it takes the proper education and training. It’s a demanding profession, so make sure that you make a good decision in picking up that particular degree.