An Associate Degree in nursing is one of the most popular and quickest qualifications required to become a registered nurse in the US. This degree helps create a sound foundation in nursing concepts and opens up many opportunities to work in entry-level nursing positions.
If you want to learn more about how to get an associate degree in nursing, the following guide has all the information you need to know.
Job Outlook with an ADN
After getting an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and passing the NCLEX-RN exam, there are several opportunities for entry-level nurses to explore. As a registered nurse, you may find work in many healthcare settings such as hospitals, nursing care facilities, doctor’s offices, outpatient care centers or offices of healthcare practitioners.
Opportunities for registered nurses are expected to grow in the years to come. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for registered nurses between 2019 and 2029 is expected to be at 7%, which is faster than the average for all other occupations.
This demand will be fueled by several factors, such as the aging population, and an increasing number of people with chronic medical conditions like dementia, diabetes, obesity or arthritis. Job growth for nurses is also expected in facilities that provide long-term care for patients with head-injuries or strokes.
ADN Specialties and Certifications
Even though many healthcare facilities prefer nurses with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), there are still many specialty certifications ADN holders can pursue. These include specializations such as OBGYN nurse, travel nurse, neonatal nurse, critical care nurse, dialysis nurse, geriatrics nurse, medical-surgical nurse, oncology nurse, pediatrics nurse, psychiatric health nurse, pain management and trauma nurse. Each of these specialties would require the completion of a certification. For instance, for a specialization in oncology, students would have to get an Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN) certification. Popular credentialling organizations for nurses in the US include the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), Medical Surgical Nursing Certification Board (MSNCB), Orthopedic Nurses Certification Board (ONCB) and Radiologic Nursing Certification Board (RNCB).
How Much Can I Make With an Associate Degree in Nursing?
The salary potential with an Associate Degree in Nursing would depend on several factors, such as where you live, your designation, your employer, level of experience and demand for professional nurses in your area.
As per latest data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses in the US made an annual median income of $73,300 in May 2019. The government was the highest paying employer for this occupation, paying an annual median wage of $79,790, followed by hospitals, ambulatory healthcare services and nursing and residential care facilities.
The top paying states for Registered Nurses in the US were California, paying an annual mean income of $113,240, Hawaii, paying an annual mean income of $104,060 and District of Columbia, paying an annual mean income of $94,820 in 2019.
How to get an ADN?
In order to get an associate degree in nursing, there are several steps you will have to follow.
This step would require you to do some research on the best ADN programs available and the program that fits your needs the best. If you have other obligations you need to meet during the day, going for an online program might be the best suited option for you.
You will then have to shortlist programs according to your requirements, including location of the campus, fee structure and placement opportunities.
Common application requirements for most ADN programs would include the completion of a high school diploma or GED certificate, high school GPA and official transcripts. For details on admission requirements, students are advised to check with the institute they are applying to.
The 2-year long Associate’s Degree in Nursing will have both clinical and theoretical components that all students will be required to complete. Once you have completed this degree, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse.
Admission Requirements for an ADN Program
Admission requirements for an ADN program would typically vary from college to college. Most ADN programs would require several subjects as prerequisites, including math, liberal arts, and science. Typical admission requirements would include a high school diploma, ACT or SAT scores, career statement, application essay, academic recommendation letters and official transcripts.
Core Curriculum in an ADN Program
The curriculum of an ADN program varies from program to program. However, a typical ADN degree would require the completion of a liberal arts core curriculum, along with coursework that focuses on nursing skills. Students will have to complete coursework in areas such as English Composition, Communications, Sociology, Statistics, Psychology and Chemistry.
Along with these subjects, aspiring nurses will also have to complete coursework in professional issues in nursing, health assessments, medical-surgical nursing, pediatric nursing, microbiology and immunology and maternal-newborn nursing.
A typical associate degree in nursing would help aspiring healthcare workers develop skills such as management skills, collaboration and communication skills. These skills are useful when registered nurses need to ensure quality and safe care, along with making sure that all medical practices are kept completely legal and ethical.
Clinical and Lab Components in an ADN Program
Whether you enroll in an online or on-campus program, you will have to complete coursework that involves both clinical and lab components in order to complete your ADN degree. Simulation labs and on-site clinical rotations are designed to give students a clear insight into the workings of a nursing professional.
Simulation labs give students room to practice in a safe and controlled environment, under the direct supervision of instructors. With clinical rotations, students get to learn by working directly under an actual healthcare professional and caring for a few real-life patients.
What to Expect From an Online ADN Program?
An online Associate Degree in Nursing can be the ideal solution for students who have to work or meet family requirements while they complete their educational credentials. The coursework for an online or classroom based ADN is the same. Online students, however, will need to attend labs for in-person training to complete their required clinical hours.
An online degree would be ideal for you if you have the right technological skills and can manage your time to meet the demands of college level coursework. Whether you choose online or on campus, it is important to understand that all nursing programs are rigorous and challenging and will require you to dedicate a considerable amount of your time.
Online courses can be of two kinds–asynchronous, which would involve pre-recorded lectures that students can take at a time of their choosing or synchronous, which would be like a typical classroom-based experience in real-time or live feed format. Online students are expected to have a strong internet connection and a reliable computer.
Should I Go for an ADN or BSN?
If you are planning to choose between an ADN and a BSN degree, the good news is that there is no right or wrong answer. Both degrees are excellent ways to get into the field of nursing after clearing the NCLEX-RN exam. Your choice, however, can depend on several factors, such as your immediate financial resources, the time you can dedicate to getting a degree and your long-term professional goals.
Before you decide on which path to take to enter the field of nursing, it is important to understand that both degrees would prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN exam. However, since the graduation requirements for a BSN are more comprehensive, those who hold this 4-year long qualification are likely to have better opportunities, higher pay and bigger roles in healthcare facilities.
Advantages of Getting an ADN
Getting an Associate Degree in Nursing has several advantages for aspiring healthcare professionals. This degree can help provide the required credentials to become a registered nurse. Besides that, getting an ADN allows students to explore the field of nursing without having to complete a 4-year long bachelor’s degree in nursing. An ADN is actually considered to be one of the quickest ways of entering the field of nursing. And if you still wish to pursue higher studies in nursing, most programs would allow you to transfer credits to a four-year long degree.
Disadvantages of Getting an ADN
There are several negative factors that must be kept in mind when deciding on whether to pursue an ADN or not. For instance, it must be noted that there are definitely better options available for individuals who want to enter the field of nursing. In addition to that, an ADN is relatively less competitive in the job market and usually does not provide the required training to pursue a specialty.
How Much Does an Associate Degree in Nursing Cost?
Tuition rates for an Associate Degree in Nursing can vary greatly depending on numerous aspects. For instance, the cost of a traditional on-campus degree would usually be different from an online program. Similarly, the cost of an ADN degree from a public institute would be different than that of a nursing degree from a private school. At public universities, students can expect to pay around $3,000 to $10,000 per year, which amounts up to $6,000 to $20,000 for the entire degree. On the other hand, students at private schools might end up paying a total program cost of $40,000 for their Associate Degree in Nursing.