ADN vs. BSN – The Big Debate


Obtaining your BSN will open many doors for you in your nursing career. A BSN makes nurses more desirable to employers who may want to hire someone who has advanced education. Most nurses after they have worked the floors for many years get burnt out and need a slower pace or feel they need a change. With a BSN, you can move into management. Management is highly recognized and can lead to a large pay increase. You earn respect from employees and learn to be a leader.

An ADN teaches the nursing student fundamental and basics of nursing. Those include creating care plans and performing everyday nursing skills. With a BSN, the nurse has to think more outside the box, with creditable research, leadership, theory, and public health, which will, in turn, make the nurse more of a critical thinker, which will carry over into her practice. Therefore, patients will be safer. As a nurse with a BSN, you will become a critical thinker advancing you in everyday nursing tasks and avoiding deadly errors.

Ideally, going to school immediately for a BSN is smart. Though, a lot of adult learners want to make a little money first. The advice for that learner is to never stop. Once the nurse starts their role, they will get comfortable and it my take years to open a textbook again. Do not be the nurse who always says they will be going back to school, jump in!

You mean I will not have a job?

There was a huge shortage of nurses years ago, but now, it has been less and less of a demand. Nurses aren’t needed as much, therefore the BSN is preferred. It is becoming more of the trend to have a BSN to be considered for any position, especially teaching, specialties, and school nurses. If you have a long time until retirement, many institutions are requiring BSNs to practice in the future.

In the future, too, the nurses who obtain an ADN know what is forthcoming and already will graduate or will be in the process of completing their BSN. Furthermore, being stuck in an ADN position may be comfortable now, but the future is coming and the BSN will be a necessity for many jobs. Across the United States, hospitals strive to become Magnet status, which does not hire ADN nurses.

The Magnet Recognition Program recognizes healthcare organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Consumers rely on Magnet designation as the ultimate credential for high quality nursing. Developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), Magnet is the leading source of successful nursing practices and strategies worldwide. Many hospitals want this because it will show that their patients will receive the best possible care.

The Benefits of the BSN

Most schools require a BSN to obtain an MSN. MSN is required for any nurse practitioner. If you have higher goals, a BSN is the way to start achieving those goals. Obtaining your BSN is a stepping stone to many opportunities! Management is the first opportunity many nurses think of and therefore obtain their higher degree. Outside of management a lot of insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and research jobs come open to BSN graduates. Another opportunity that a nurse with an ADN can not touch is being a clinical instructor for your local college. Those opportunities are great for extra money.

Money is always a motivator. The pay increase for a BSN versus an ADN is not too spectacular, unless you move up the ladder in your company. Those nurses with BSNs in management will make more money just because they are in a management role. As for a staff nurse though, BSNs and ADN graduates are comparable usually. The pay increase will ultimately be the decision mainly of your employer.

Four year degree nurses are looked at differently than two year degree nurses. They are held to a much higher standard in society. Most patients would prefer the nurse who had to learn for an extra two years. Outside of just patients, telling the general public that you have a Bachelor’s degree shows intelligence among the average individual.

Overall, the benefits to obtaining a BSN are spectacular. You will hear from nurses that it is not worth it. It is not true. Obtaining a BSN is going to guarantee you a job and most of all job security. Everyone has a family, bills, and personal issues to attend to, that’s why we work. Let your career take care of you with a little work on your part, you can be done quickly or as slow as you want.

ADN vs. BSN by the numbers

Length 2 to 3 years
(about 70 credit hours)
4 to 5 years
(about 120 credit hours)
State Approved programs 1275 777
The total number of approved programs is based on our database. the actual number of approved programs is obviously different but you can see the difference
Cost of education
  • Denver School of Nursing ($42,527)
  • Columbia Basin College ($52,800)
  • Bevill State Community College ($10,080*)
  • Denver School of Nursing($86,089)
  • South University ($104,920)
  • Auburn University($69,584)
  • The University of Alabama($100,824)
Education cost varies based on the type of school you go to, weather you are an in-state/out-of-state student, etc. the above numbers are based on published tuition costs on each university/college website in 2013
Degree advancement options RN to BSN, RN to MSN BSN to MSN, BSN to PhD/DNP
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Janine Kelbach

Janine Kelbach is a Registered Nurse. She has been an RN for 7 years and has been in OB a total of 11 years. High Risk Labor and Delivery is her certification (RNC), but she works as an assistant manager in a Labor, Delivery, Recovery, and Postpartum (LDRP) unit. A small amount of her responsibilities are to train new nurses, triage and telephone triage patients, deliver patients, scrub in the operating room, and assist in the special care nursery.

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