There are a few types of nurses out there, and here they are ranked from the least amount of school to the highest:
- Licensed practical nurse (LPN)
- Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN)
- Bachelor's of Science Nursing (BSN)
- Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Of all these degrees, the most common for registered nurses (RNs) in the U.S. are those with either an ADN or BSN. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of both, and based on the differences, you can decide which one is right for you.
- Speed. An ADN is the absolute fastest and easiest way to become an RN.
- Less education. Less education is a pro? Well, kinda, because by having the shortest time commitment, you'll graduate faster.
- Start making money sooner. Because you graduate sooner, the ADN route will get you into the workforce the fastest, and you can start making money while other people are still in school in other programs.
- Start getting experience. Start gaining experience sooner than people in other longer programs. The golden rule of transferring positions seems to be within the 2-3 year window, and you can get a jump on other RNs by starting work sooner.
- Magnet hospitals. Some hospitals will not hire nurses without a BSN or higher level of education. Some will consider your employment with an ADN if you sign a contract to be enrolled in a BSN program within 6 months to 1 year after being hired, but that might put a lot of stress on a new nurse. Some magnet hospitals will not even consider applicants without a BSN or higher.
- Lower pay. Your salary will typically be higher when you have a BSN or higher level of education. The difference isn't always huge though, so this might not matter much.
- Fewer positions. Some positions will only accept those with a BSN or higher. Roles such as administration are typically like this, and might even require an MSN.
- More desirable to hiring managers. With a higher degree, you will be more attractive to future employers. In a situation with two otherwise equal candidates, if a promising interview comes down to you and an ADN RN, you'll have the edge.
- More job options. You can pretty much do all RN roles with a BSN.
- Ready for grad school. You can start grad school at any time if you already have your BSN.
- Higher salary. You will probably make a little more than your ADN RN counterparts.
- Longer school time commitment. ADN RNs will be out in the workforce while you're still stuck in school. They can start earning money and getting experience before BSN RNs.
- Slower start for making money and getting experience. Once again, ADN RNs get the jump start.
- More expensive up front. School is more expensive for a BSN versus an ADN.
In the end, nursing is a great field to get into. Personally, I would avoid the LPN route since most hospitals don’t want to hire them and instead, jump straight into an RN program.
I would recommend an ADN program to those who want less school, want to start working and making money faster, and might not care about grad school in the near future.
I would recommend a BSN program for anyone with desires to pursue a higher education degree such as an MSN to become a nurse practitioner in the very near future. Otherwise, it’s probably not worth the extra cost and time commitment up front.
But that’s my $0.02, and I encourage everyone to do your own research and come to your own conclusions.
Thanks for reading