Author Topic: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?  (Read 4697 times)

Nigel

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Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« on: April 30, 2014, 08:15:34 PM »
My high school-age daughter is interested in possibly becoming an RN.  From what I understand, you can become an RN with an Associates degree (ASN), and the job description/salary is exactly the same for an RN with an Associates and one with a bachelors degree.  So is there any reason to get the bachelors? When you add up two extra years tuition plus the opportunity cost of foregone salary, it seems like you are paying through the nose for a couple of letters on a piece of paper, and I can't for the life of me see the advantage.

My mustachian intuition tells me the best way to go is to get the ASN, get the RN license and work for a couple of years, then decide if you want to go for a masters-level specialty like nurse practitioner, etc., in which case you would go back to school.  If you are happy being an RN but feel like you would get some personal or professional benefit from more education, there is nothing stopping you from opening a book and learning whatever they teach in years 3-4 of a bachelors program (or learning about anything else that interests you, for that matter).

Am I overlooking something here?  Maybe someone with experience in the nursing profession can provide some advice.

(By the way, the decision is hers and I'll totally support her no matter what she decides, but I at least want to be able to give good fatherly guidance as she starts on the road towards upper-lip fuzziness and general badass happiness!)

Thanks.

Irishmam

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2014, 08:31:05 PM »
RN here with many years experience and I have also taught clinical nursing at the ASN and BSN levels. It is possible to become an RN and practice with an Associate's degree, and this is generally a cheaper option. Most hospitals in the Northeast, however, require new RN's to have a BSN, and because there are so many nurses entering the job market each year, they can be picky about this.
Many of our new grad BSN students are having a hard time getting jobs after graduation and end up working in new grad "residencies", which tend to be lower paid, highly sought after placements within major hospitals. These residencies will not consider you if you do not have a BSN.
Basically ASN vs BSN is not really your issue, it depends on your location, where your daughter might want to work after graduation,  what type of nursing she wants to do, etc. The ASN is a great entry point, but your daughter may have other ideas about where she sees nursing taking her.
HTH!

MicroRN

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2014, 09:06:13 PM »
It will largely depend on the area.  I did an AAS, started working, and am currently finishing up my BSN.  Where I live, everyone advertises "BSN preferred,"  but you can get hired without it.  In other areas, it's almost impossible to get that first job if you don't have the BSN to begin with.     

The nice thing is that BSN completion programs are geared toward the working nurse, so classes tend to be flexible.  If you're in an area where you can get hired initially, Associates->work->BSN while working is the way to go, especially since some employers (like mine) offer tuition reimbursement.

alibean

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2014, 09:47:42 PM »
There are some hospitals that will only hire BSN's- particularly magnet hospitals.  Magnet status is a very coveted thing b/c it attracts nurses and patients.  For the most part, going into public health also requires a BSN. 

I started w/a BSN but I work with several nurses that got their ADN first then went back to get their BSN on the hospital's dime.  I think the trend really is for most nurses to have their BSN's.  Then, of course, if you want a graduate degree, a BSN is necessary.  I also think employers have started to add more weight to teh bachelor's degree.  Personally, I was glad to have my BSN from the start as I felt like it gave me a bit of an edge in getting a job as I wanted to get into an area that was a little more competitive.  Depending on the area where you live, the job market may be more or less competitive. 

Mrs.FamilyFinances

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 09:48:10 PM »
BSN! The programs are usually very accommodating to working nurses, and many schools offer "bridge" programs, so its not 2x the school years like it may seem. What area do you live in? Here in the PNW you can get hired as an ASN but the salary is not the same, nor are the opportunities.

AMustachianMurse

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2014, 07:55:48 AM »
Recent RN, BSN Graduate here (post-2008 financial meltdown).  I graduated from one of the best nursing schools in the nation and it took my over a year to find a job as a BSN.  Every hospital i've seen in California, and other popular places to work e.g. Texas, Florida, NYC, D.C. explicitly say they wont hire ADNs into their new grad programs.  So your daughter will pigeon-hole herself into working as a nurse outside of the hospital, where the rate of pay can be anywhere from 25-50% less than her hospital counterparts.  If you don't start your career working in acute care, the road into the hospital can take a VERY, VERY Long time.  I.E. SNF, then LTAC, then you have to bust down doors of every manager out there convincing them that your LTAC experience is good enough to work in the hospital acute care setting, which depending on your department manager, is not an easy task.  Don't get me wrong it's possible, two of my close friends and fantastic nurses are ADNs who started at the bottom and busted their butts to get into a hospital...but it took them many years longer than me, and guess what?  They are both in ADN --> BSN programs right now.

So TL;DR, if at all possible, go for the BSN now, take out the loans or whatever.  It will pay off in the end as long as your daughter saves her money and doesnt over-extend herself with a car or a house before her loans are paid off.  Private Message me at any time for advice as I have a lot more to say about nursing school, and becoming a new nurse...the environment has significantly changed for new nurses now than it was 10+ years ago. 

Nigel

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2014, 08:18:20 AM »
Thanks very much for the input everyone, definitely food for thought. 

Sounds like it's pretty hard to get an RN job in a hospital in most areas of the country - not what I expected, given all the news stories about nursing being one of the fastest growing careers. Is that totally inaccurate, or has the growth just not started yet?


AMustachianMurse

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2014, 09:07:53 AM »
Thanks very much for the input everyone, definitely food for thought. 

Sounds like it's pretty hard to get an RN job in a hospital in most areas of the country - not what I expected, given all the news stories about nursing being one of the fastest growing careers. Is that totally inaccurate, or has the growth just not started yet?

It is....for people with experience.  It's one of the worst catch-22's of all time.  You can't work in a hospital unless you have "acute care experience" but you cant get "acute care experience" without working in a hospital.  Hospitals wont hire a new grad into a unit because it's unsafe, so the only recourse is to offer new grad programs, which are very expensive for hospitals to run (they have to pay the new grad nurse, AND the nurse precepting them) for 3-12 months.  As such their budget isn't great so they usually don't have very many slots.  For example I work at the biggest hospital chain in the county down here, and my new grad class had....90 new grads across 4 hospitals (which is freaking massive btw, and not indicative of a national average) and there were over 1,000 applicants.  Want to know the other kicker?  The applications were open for 3 days....

If that doesn't scare you it should.  The good news is that once you get 2 years of experience you are home free.  I am confident I can get a job in any hospital in any city.  So yes, there is a bit of a nursing shortage, that will continue to get worse in the future...but the shortage is not for new grads, it's for experienced nurses.

Louisville

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2014, 09:22:44 AM »
I'm in Louisville, a town of about a million. My ex-wife, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and about a half a dozen classmates of theirs I know got an Associate's in nursing at our good old local community college, became RNs, and haven't looked back. They never lack for work and some have moved into admin, etc.
If, however, a nurse wants to move into management, teach, etc., a BSN or Master's is required.
These are just my observations. Anecdote is not the singular of data.

randymarsh

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2014, 10:11:31 AM »
If she's going straight out of HS, I'd definitely do the BS. You technically can with an associates, but many hospitals are requiring they get a BS within X amount of time. A family member of mine did a special paramedic-to-RN program, but he's still required to get his BS and is currently doing so.

Scnrn

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2014, 10:32:25 AM »
Hi I joined just to reply to this topic.Igraduated in 1981 with a BSN and I have worked in different RN jobs since.The world has changed drastically in the last few years and it will take you some serious research to determine the best course.There is so much to consider.
1)It really is very hard for new grads to get hired,but find out what is going on locally to where your daughter hopes to be working.Unfortunately this can change by the time she graduates but you really can't assume an easy job market.
2)It is really hard for associate degree nurses to get jobs.It is not impossible,my unit hired someone fairly recently-but she had a lot of years of experience.This same nurse is trying to relocate to Florida and can not get a job there without the BSN and now is in school .
3)Even if locally they are hiring new grads with Assoc. It may still be the better option to go to the BSN program.Locally the CC program was backed up for years to get into the clinical part of the program so it was actually faster to go the 4 year route.So very important to check out how fast people are moving through the programs.There tends to be a shortage of clinical instructors and clinical sites.Really let me just highlight this again since I have seen so many people get hung up in their programs at the clinical bottle neck-verify with any program.
4)There is a huge difference in pay in different areas of the country.We recently located to East Tn and the pay was less than half what I made in the NE.Find out what people are really earning .I don't have any expectation that rates wIll be improving in the future.There were 0 jobs in my specialty when I moved here.It was pretty shocking.
5)Make sure your daughter volunteers and gets exposure to nursing and this is really what she wants to do.It is a really,hard job to do well and not a field to go into just because one thinks there is perpetual employment.I am absolutely not saying that is why she wants to go into nursing but it really is not an easy career.On the other hand it can truly be an amazing and wonderful career-just really,really think about why you want to do it.
6)Of course investigate how many courses your daughter can AP or CLEP out of.To do this you will probably have to poke around on the college's website.There is no good reason to be in classes like Psych or Soc.
Sorry this is so long,there is so much to consider.I would def. recommend doing the BSN from the start.

homeymomma

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2014, 12:27:15 PM »
Agree with above. Depends on where she wants to work, how mobile she wants to be, and where she wants go go with her career. If it's a way to make money by working locally at a hospital / hospital system she knows employs associates nurses, then associates is great. If she sees herself wanting to be able to move upwards within nursing, including working at larger or more prestigious hospitals (magnet was mentioned), wanting to continue her education, etc, a bachelors is a must.

One way to do it if she wants to work ASAP would be an associates first, then start working somewhere and get the hospital to pay for a bachelors. It depends entirely on location, her goals, and availability of jobs for associates-prepared nurses.

phred

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2014, 01:44:09 PM »
I would say go full speed on the Associates starting with college classes while in high school.  Get RN registered so she can work summers and weekends for a nurses' temp agency while continuing right on into a bachelor's program.  College tuition, textbooks, uniforms, etc are probably income tax deductible under on of the various tax programs (AOTC, Learning Credit, etc)

Hardest part for some of many nursing programs is the math.  One program I know of requires a course in statistics.

By proclaiming nurses are in demand, hospitals and medical contractors are able to import nurses from abroad and pay them less than customary rates


La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Associates or Bachelors to become an RN?
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2014, 07:03:57 PM »
My sister was hired as an associate nurse and some of her BSN tuition was reimbursed. The way she got her job was that she had done an externship while she was in school in addition to her clinicals--she was doing some kind of assistant-level work and was a good fit with her coworkers, so she got hired when they had an opening. She had actually planned to become a nurse-midwife (which, I understand, will soon be a doctoral-level field, not master's anymore), but she likes the NICU so much that she never plans to leave.

The moral of the story is that your daughter should network, network, network and avail herself of ever single possible opportunity to get inside the doors of a hospital! Things are hard all over--I worked in a law school, and all the talk was about how lawyers can't get jobs; I went to library school, and all the talk is about how librarians can't get jobs. I still think nursing is a great career field. My sister got a mortgage as a single parent and now that she has remarried, she supports a family of five with a stay at home dad. Not bad for a "blue collar" career!