ADN - Associate Degree in nursing

There are many pathways to becoming a nurse from a certificate, diploma to various degrees. One of the routes to be a nurse is to get an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) it is the second most basic education credential to qualify for nursing after Licensed Practical Nurses training that takes about a year of nursing education. It culminates to a certificate. 

An ADN is a two-year degree and is now a minimum educational level that employers require for someone to get a license a registered nurse since LPN is almost obsolete.   ADN has been a traditional benchmark for nursing school entry. Students become eligible to sit for an NCLEX-RN exam that someone should pass to get licensed by the state. Nurses cannot work without getting licensed. 

After completing an ADN degree, nurses are free to start practicing in various clinical settings as well as specialty areas.    An ADN degree is all that some nurses require but others advance their education full time or part time while still working. 

Clinical Hours for an ADN

Most ADN programs require clinical hours. Each program may slightly vary, so it is essential to review the requirements before beginning. Clinical hours are a faculty-monitored real-world experience which is part of the nursing school curriculum. Each state has a required amount of hours which needs to be completed before the graduate can, be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam must be passed for the graduate to be licensed as an RN. 

Becoming An Associate Degree After ADN Degree

A new graduate should follow these steps to take an NCLEX-RN examination after completing an ADN program. Learn about eligibility to sit for NCLEX exam at the state where you plan to practice. 

  • Register and pay your application fee  
  • Receive an authorization to test  
  • Schedule the exam day at a nearby testing center. If you delay much, the authorization to test will expire, and rescheduling will mean paying additional fees

 If you pass the exam you the testing board in your state will send an RN license and post it nursys.com to for viewing by employers.  At this point, an ADN graduate can start searching for a job. 

Job Opportunities after ADN Degree in Nursing

Most new graduate registered nurses start by getting an internship job.  The purpose of internships is to help newly graduated RNs to learn complexities of nursing specialties.    Many students have an idea where they will work after graduating because they explore specialties in nursing during clinical hours at nursing school.  Holders of an associate degree can work in one of these specialties: 

  • Emergency room 
  • Medical-surgical 
  • Critical care at intensive care or progressive care unit  
  • Operating room (OR) 
  • Labor and delivery  
  • Neonatal ICU (NICU) 
  • Telemetry 
  • Oncology  
  • Skilled nursing facility  
  • Physician’s office  
  • Outpatient clinic 

Job Opportunities after ADN Degree in Nursing

Most new graduate registered nurses start by getting an internship job.  The purpose of internships is to help newly graduated RNs to learn complexities of nursing specialties.    Many students have an idea where they will work after graduating because they explore specialties in nursing during clinical hours at nursing school.  Holders of an associate degree can work in one of these specialties: 

  • Medical-surgical
  • Emergency room   
  • Critical care at intensive care or progressive care unit  
  • Operating room (OR) 
  • Labor and delivery  
  • Neonatal ICU (NICU) 
  • Telemetry 
  • Oncology  
  • Skilled nursing facility  
  • Physician’s office  
  • Outpatient clinic 

Advancing Beyond ADN Degree

It is a good idea to look at job requirements for different specialties of interest before starting an ADN program.  Some of the employers require job applicants to have a BSN degree.  This happens practice is prevalent at large hospitals. 

A  BSN degree program takes four years, but students can apply for an accelerated program that enables them to complete in lesser time. It teaches students more technical and in-depth fundamentals of nursing than an ADN program.  However many RN-BSN bridge programs are on offers including those that are 100% online with little or no waiting list. RNs with a license does not require having clinical hours to join a BSN program. 

Difference between ADN and BSN

Both degrees are an entry position qualification, but they have significant differences in curriculum beyond the difference in time limits. 

Students in the two-degree programs learn the standard clinical components, but a BSN course delves deeper into these areas: 

  • Nursing theory  
  • Research 
  • Critical thinking  
  • Community healthcare 
  • Public health  
  • Nursing informatics or technology  
  • Case management that is only for the BSN program 

 Critical thinking component of a BSN program is the major difference it has with an ADN. A BSN graduate sets the standard of patient care and the development of a treatment plan. It prepares the students to gain skills that enable them to work beyond a hospital or acute care setting.  

Associate Degree in Nursing Salary

An Associate Degree registered nurse earns between $20-38 an hour with the median being $27. The factors below influence salary. 

  1. Location  

Nursing salaries, like in other professions, align with the cost of living.  Staff nurses living in areas with a higher cost of living usually earn more. Travel nurses are an exception to this rule because they are on contract to work for third -parties.   Many contracts for travel nursing of a higher value are in less desirable areas because the hospitals and other healthcare facilities have trouble to attract enough staff willing to work and live there. 

  1. Experience 

Employers value experience in nursing. A nurse with an ADN degree can make more money than Bachelor’s degree because of having much experience.  For this reason, many hospitals would rather retain a nurse with an ADN degree but ask them to acquire a BSN within particular time after hire. After gaining some experience, an RN might become certified in a specialty.  Certifications and further education validate qualifications. They also help in driving up hourly wage for registered nurses.  Certification is available for most nursing specialties. 

Some nurses already have plans to advance their education after getting an Associate degree.  There are even those who choose to start a career in healthcare by earning an ADN to accelerate the transition into the working world. 

They plan to work full or part-time as a registered nurse but still return to school to get a Bachelors degree through an RN-BSN degree that is officially called ADN-BSN. Most of these programs complete in 18 to 24 months. It depends on the college credits that a student can transfer from an ADN or another degree earned before. 

The nursing field is ever evolving as there are new technologies to treat and diagnose. Hospital administrators are changing the interaction between nurses and patients, and the BSN program has broad flexibility to handle continued challenges in patient care. It is essential for ADN degree holders to start pursuing a BSN degree as many healthcare facilities consider it the new entry-level qualification. In 2020 it will be a requirement that nurses in the United States has a BSN degree. 

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