Overview of the differences in competencies between Nurses prepared at the associate degree level versus the baccalaureate degree level in nursing

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the Second World War many nurses who were in the military or civilian practice were leaving the profession, and fewer students were choosing nursing as a career. To exacerbate the problem those that did enter the profession were leaving after only a few years. Meanwhile advances in medical science, improved medical facilities and an increase in the number of insured worked to create an increased demand for nurses. Simultaneously the growth in junior colleges, an increase in the availability federal funding, and public concern led to the inclusion of nursing into the junior college curricula. Initially the ADN was foreseen as a temporary solution to address this shortage and was not intended to replace the professional level of nursing education, however, ADN programs, first introduced in 1958, became instantly popular and expanded throughout the 1960s. Raines and Taglaireni (2008) report that currently there are about 940 ADN programs nationwide with approximately 600 of these offered in the community college system. The typical ADN program is a two year commitment and prepares graduates with the clinical competence and technical proficiency to needed to practice safely in multiple settings and to fully assume the RN role.

Baccalaureate programs are offered at approximately 606 four year colleges and universities. The Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) program prepares graduates to practice across all healthcare setting and take on the widest assortment of healthcare roles. BSN programs include all of the course work taught in ADN and diploma programs plus a more in-depth treatment of the physical and social sciences, nursing research, public and community health, nursing management, and the humanities. The additional course work augments the student's professional development and provides the basis for progression to advanced practice roles in nursing (Raines & Taglaireni, 2008).


Lucy J. Hood (2009) reports that during the mid 1980s differentiated competencies for ADN and BSN prepared nurses were established. Competencies set forth for ADN's are tended to center around caregiver, councilor, and educator activities. BSN competencies include these as well as the roles of client advocate, colleague coordinator, and change agent. ADN nurses are educated to provide nursing care to persons with similar health issues in a structured environment. BSN nurses are educated to engage in independent thinking and provide nursing care to persons with complex and differing health issues within a variety of settings, including the community. Other responsibilities of BSN nurses is to develop researched based care protocols, assume nursing management positions, and coordinate care for persons with complex interactive health care needs.

A Side by Side Comparison of ADN and BSN Competencies

(Hood, 2009, p.19)


Differentiating competencies gives health care providers the opportunity to utilize the education and experience provided by the diverse educational programs leading to RN licensure. The RN is given the opportunity to practice to their potential, taking full advantage of educational preparation, while not being expected to practice beyond it. In many cases, differentiated models of practice are supported by a clinical "ladder" or defined steps for advancement within the organization based on experience in nursing, education, certifications, or other indicators of professional excellence (NAI, 2010).

Nurses are involved in decisions that affect client's lives. Regardless of the preparation program completed, it is imperative that all nurses have the intellectual capacity to master scientific concepts, understand the impact they have on others, and use this information in clinical practice to understand the consequences of their actions. Hood (2009) asserts a professional nurse must possess a body of knowledge on which professional practice is based, a specialized education to transmit this body of knowledge to others, and the ability to use this knowledge in critical and creative ways.


Hood, L. J. (2009). Leddy & Pepper's conceptual bases of professional nursing. 7th ed. Hong Kong, China: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

Huber, L. (2006, December 23). ADN vs. BSN. Nursing leadership and education. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from http:nursingleadershipandeducation.blogspot.com200612adn-vs-bsn-education.html

NAI (2010, October). The impact of education on nursing practice. American association of colleges of nursing. Fact Sheet. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from http:www.aacn.nche.edumediafactsheetsimpactednp.htm

Raines, F. C. & Taglaireni, E. M. (2008). Career pathways in nursing: Entry points and academic progression. Online journal of issues in nursing. Vol. 13, Issue 3, 1. Retrieved January 6, 2011 from http:web.ebscohost.comehostdetail?hid=111&sid=2e22b705-3888-412d-9f7c0099331755b8%40sessionmgr111&vid=3&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=3760485[continue]

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"Overview Of The Differences In Competencies Between Nurses Prepared At The Associate Degree Level Versus The Baccalaureate Degree Level In Nursing" (2011, January 08) Retrieved May 24, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/overview-of-the-differences-in-competencies-4019

"Overview Of The Differences In Competencies Between Nurses Prepared At The Associate Degree Level Versus The Baccalaureate Degree Level In Nursing" 08 January 2011. Web.24 May. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/overview-of-the-differences-in-competencies-4019>

"Overview Of The Differences In Competencies Between Nurses Prepared At The Associate Degree Level Versus The Baccalaureate Degree Level In Nursing", 08 January 2011, Accessed.24 May. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/overview-of-the-differences-in-competencies-4019

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