Probably the very most popular and common path toward becoming a Registered Nurse (RN) is by studying to obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). Earning this degree – and obtaining an RN license – will allow students to gain an entry-level nursing position in many different settings including hospitals, physician’s offices, government installations and much more. Employment prospects for RNs having earned an associate’s degree are excellent. The demand for RNs only continues to grow every year. Plus, most programs are about 20-months long and prepare individuals to enter the nursing field where even an entry-level job pays rather well. And, earning this degree is a great foundation for nurses to build upon when the time is correct to seek a bachelor or master degree in nursing.
Education Program Options Available
An Associate in Nursing Degree program will provide students with a general, broad-based education that can be completed in less than a four-year college setting. Typically, depending upon the institution, programs are completed in two-three years and many in 20 months when students are enrolled full time attending a program with no breaks. Students having already completed an LPN, Licensed Practical Nurse, program will usually receive full credit for courses taken making pursuit of an ADN shorter. Associate degree programs can be found at community and junior colleges and are no found in an ever increasing appearance online. Flexible schedules as well as online study provide participants with many convenient sources for earning a degree while working and attending school. All online schools partner with medical nearby medical facilities so students have access to complete clinical hours. Today’s dramatic nursing shortage has compelled some “out-of-the-box” non-traditional education sources made available to help increase the number of entry-level RN employees for this demanding field of endeavor. Earning that Associate Degree in Nursing can be a convenient choice for non-traditional student seeking a career change as well.
Coursework Will be Challenging
Course study in anatomy and microbiology will be required as prerequisites before officially entering an ADN program. Supervised clinical experience e will also be mandatory along with the following course examples:
- Foundations of Nursing Care – This is an introductory course where students learn the history and concepts of nursing practice, decision-making frameworks and basic nursing skills.
- Principles of Clinical Decision Making – This course teaches the principles of clinical decision making and may include topics such as pain management, immune system diseases, respiratory diseases and infectious diseases.
- Maternity Nursing Care – Students learn about nursing care for women during the childbearing period including prenatal, labor and delivery and postpartum periods as well as care for newborn infants.
- Pharmacology – Nursing students learn about drug classifications, dosage, administration, side effects, interactions and impact on body systems.
- Pediatric Nursing – Nursing care of pediatric patients from infancy through adolescence is examined. Physical development, psychological development and health as well as social factors are studied.
- Medical-Surgical Nursing Care – Topics covered in this course will include preoperative and postoperative care, fluid and medication administration and how psychological factors can impact outcomes.
Students will complete all clinical experience requirements at nearby hospital or other care facilities such as long-term residential care, home health agencies and public health department settings
Programs Tend to Be Selective
Since there also is a high demand for education sources, nursing school programs, both traditional and online, tend to be quite demanding and exact high admission standards upon prospective students. A battery of criteria including standardized testing, specific entrance exam scores and possible prior college course experience may play important roles determining who is granted admission to a nursing program. Since many schools require specific science-based prerequisites, it is highly recommended high school students start planning well in advance taking the opportunity to obtain these prerequisites well before graduation. Otherwise, students may need to enroll in the necessary courses to gain full admission to a nursing program such as an ADN.
Where do ADN Graduates Work?
The majority of degree-earning RNs begin careers caring for patients in traditional healthcare facilities such as a hospital or doctor’s office. Once RNs gain experience, other employment opportunities such as travel nurse, home health care, nursing home and long-term care facilities become available. In many situations, a nurse’s employer will offer incentives for said employee to continue with a nursing education leading to a bachelor and/or master degree where advanced and specialized skills can be learned and developed. Most people interested in becoming a nurse have in the past chosen one of three routes that include:
- Becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse through a local community college or vocational school that typically takes 12 to 15 months
- Earn a RN diploma typically offered through a hospital and at that sponsoring hospital. These programs are becoming rare since a switch in policy is focusing on hiring RN-level professionals
- Earn a RN through a four-year nursing program
Also, once nurses have earned a bachelor degree, gaining a master’s degree can lead to specialized employment in a number of areas including:
- Nurse Practitioner (NP)
- Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
- Clinical Nurse Midwife (CNM)
- Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
Graduates of the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) program must pass a national licensing examination, known as the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, in order to obtain a nursing license.
Nursing Career Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses held about 2.6 million jobs in 2008—making it the largest healthcare occupation in the United States. Hospitals employed about 60% of RNs, while eight percent worked in offices of physicians, five percent in home healthcare services, five percent in nursing care facilities, and three percent in employment services. The remainder worked mostly in government agencies, social assistance agencies, and educational services.
Associate Degree in Nursing Salary
According to Payscale.com, graduates of an associates degree in nursing ADN program working as a Registered Nurse (RN) received starting salaries averaging $45,390 a year. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in May 2008, registered nurses received a median salary of $62,450 a year. Many employers also offer flexible work schedules, child care, educational benefits and bonuses.
Obtaining an ADN will definitely set a nursing professional on a career path leading to a personally and financially rewarding life.