With the ever-growing need for people with nursing education in the healthcare sector, Associate’s Degree in Nursing has become popular as a program that equips nurses with skills and increases their career prospects. It was introduced in the market over 50 years ago to counter the nursing shortages brought about by the Second World War. The duration of study for the degree ranges from 2-3 years but the time frame can considerably reduce for students who are eligible for credit transfers. During this period, the students undergo preparation to become registered nurses who can administer holistic patient care, educate the community on health issues, and provide support to patients and their family members. The study involves lab work, lecture sessions, nursing seminars, and clinical experiences.
- What You Need to Acquire Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Major Components of the Course of Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Relevance of the Associate’s Degree in Nursing Program
- Potential Careers with Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Benefits of Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Learning Outcomes for Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Future Educational Opportunities with Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- Online Availability of the Associate’s Degree in Nursing Course
- The Expected Salary Range with Associate’s Degree in Nursing
- The Future of the Associate’s Degree in Nursing Program
Admissions to Associate’s Degree in Nursing program has numerous stipulations because the openings are limited. Applicants are required to have a high school diploma or GED in which they have met the minimum grade point average. Other minor requirements include passing a criminal background check, having a negative drug screen, and providing proof of specific immunizations. Students with their Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) certificate or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) certificate have higher chances of being accepted into the program, but this is not a mandatory requirement.
In addition to nursing classes, learners are supposed to complete certain prerequisite classes such as math, biology, anatomy, nutrition, and psychology. Once students have completed this degree, they are required to sit for National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) which is the final step towards becoming a registered nurse.
Like many other nursing courses, three main areas of focus for Associate’s Degree in Nursing include biology, psychology, and sociology. These major components are further subdivided into smaller areas of study as discussed below.
- Anatomy and Physiology — this section provides learners with basic information about the structure and operations of the human body. The knowledge enables medical staff to give proper care to an individual whose body parts are not functioning as expected.
- Pediatric nursing — it equips learners with special skills to handle infants, children, and adolescents in different ways such as giving immunizations, looking after children with chronic illnesses, and advising caregivers about proper nutrition for healthy child development.
- Mental health nursing — a registered nurse must be in a position to assess the mental health needs of the patient and help them to deal with issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, drug addiction, and stress-related illnesses.
- Pathophysiology — it is a branch of this course that addresses the functional changes that occur in the body resulting from injury or disease. Nurses must have an understanding of how to restore the body from such a condition.
- Nursing leadership & management — it incorporates the business function into clinical practice by preparing nurses to participate in making policy decisions, leading organizations, running marketing campaigns, and handling finances among other functions.
- Pharmacology — in most cases, nurses will be required to administer drugs to patients, so they have to understand their uses and effects.
- Medical/surgical nursing — this is an area of specialty within the course that enables students to acquire extensive knowledge on various aspects of nursing care. It prepares nurses to work in different settings such as wards, emergency departments, outpatient clinics, home healthcare, and nursing homes.
- Maternal/newborn nursing — it is a critical component of healthcare nursing that enables nurses to give care to mothers after delivery and to advise them on the best practices for the infants.
- Basic nutrition — nurses are often required to work as nutrition counselors since the healthcare sector does not have enough nutritionists and dieticians. As such, they have to understand each class of nutrients and their functions in the human body because proper nutrition is crucial in leading a healthy life.
The above list is not exhaustive, and it only serves to show that Associate’s Degree in Nursing is a diverse course that equips learners with a wide range of skills. It ensures that the graduates are ready to work in diverse areas of patient care and competently handle various responsibilities.
Associate’s Degree in Nursing will always remain a relevant choice for all who wish to join the field of nursing. Since its introduction, it has played a significant role in helping to solve the problem of shortage of nurses, and to effectively meet healthcare needs of the growing population. It fulfills the individual right of access to education, especially to individuals who cannot afford other advanced programs. In the past, there has been a controversy surrounding the credibility of the program, with the opponents arguing that a professional nurse should hold a minimum of a baccalaureate degree from the University. However, studies have proven them wrong by showing that registered nurses perform well in the same capacity whether they are prepared in Associate’s degree program or baccalaureate degree programs. As such, ADN program remains a feasible option of becoming a registered nurse.
An Associate’s Degree in Nursing prepares graduates to work in various types of health facilities where they will be expected to perform duties such as:
- Ensuring that the patients are comfortable
- Maintaining patient records for future reference
- Monitoring patient health through measuring their blood pressure and temperature
- Reporting patient status to the doctor
- Providing basic care such as changing of bandages
- Discussing how patients are feeling and addressing their concerns
Since the above responsibilities are general, the career choices for the graduates are limitless. For this reason, they can work in any of the following settings.
- Nursing care facilities: this will involve taking care of older adults and taking care of their social, physical, and psychological needs. It may also involve patients under long-term rehabilitation.
- General medical and surgical hospital: one can offer services in various hospital departments such as the emergency unit, surgery room, and the maternity ward.
- Physicians’ offices: physicians hire registered nurses as medical assistants to give primary care. Here they prepare the patients, read vital signs and prepare the specimen for lab testing among other duties.
- Home health care nursing: some patients continue to require professional medical services when they return home, and nurses with this degree are well trained to offer such services.
- Community care facilities: the nurses can provide non-medical residential care to patients in such facilities.
- The program requires fewer credit hours than other degrees in the field of nursing, so it saves the students a lot of time. The shorter duration also makes it a cheaper option that is suitable for students with financial constraints.
- It is available online, so students can learn while minding other commitments to jobs and families. The flexibility offered by online availability also ensures that students can work at their own pace even from the comfort of their homes.
- The program qualifies nursing students to sit for National Council Licensure Examination, thus granting them quicker access to the nursing field than their counterparts at the Bachelor level.
- Graduates are adequately prepared for their nursing career by learning a wide range of skills through the diverse curriculum.
- It increases the healthcare sector supply of registered nurses for the smooth running of the system.
- It offers a clear pathway to other degrees at advanced levels.
- It exposes the graduates to a diversified work environment by producing all-round nurses who are trained to handle different issues.
There are several expectations that nursing students are expected to achieve upon completion of this program. First, they must demonstrate clinical competence within the scope of the degree during clinical experiences. Secondly, they must be in a position to use effective communication, especially when dealing with patients and their families. This also implies that they should work together as a team with their colleagues. Thirdly, they must prove to be effective at decision making because this is a crucial skill in patient care. Fourth, they must be accountable and act with integrity for the legal and professional responsibilities placed upon them by the career. Fifth, they ought to know how to identify risks to themselves and other people, and come up with measures to prevent injury. Lastly, students should demonstrate their capability to be caring individuals who can enrich their lives as well as those of their patients.
Nurses holding an Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) can advance their education to gain deeper knowledge about the career. They can pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) which can expose them to new working opportunities and ensure that they can access higher pay for services offered. BSN enables the nurses to work in specialized, supervisory, and administrative positions in different organizations. Additionally, acquiring AND ensures that students edge closer towards enrolling for Master of Science programs in nursing which introduce new areas of concentration such as nurse practitioner, certified nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist among others (Juraschek et al.).
In the recent past, online courses have become popular in the nursing field. The case is no different for Associate’s Degree in Nursing, which is offered online by different colleges. An online ADN program enables students to complete the reading, lecture, and assignment parts of the course without physically going to the campus. They interact with their peers and instructors online and use the same platform to do their presentations. The online program has been designed for specific groups of people such as:
- Single parents
It may prove difficult for a single parent trying to balance class attendance with caring for their children. Online ADN course offers them a flexible option whereby they can learn and do assignments when their schedule allows.
- Students in remote areas
Some people reside in far off locations, and this makes it difficult for them to access campus. The online program solves this problem since students can learn from anywhere provided they have access to the internet.
- Professionals seeking a career change
Some people are determined to learn while working so that they can build on their knowledge or shift to a new career. The online program is suitable for them because they can continue working while learning during free time.
As much as the program is beneficial, there is a downside to it because one cannot earn the degree entirely online. Nursing is a hands-on profession, and a certain portion of the course must be completed offline. Online students will be required to attend lab sessions online and get further training in hospitals or healthcare clinics.
Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that a registered nurse under this program takes home about $79,110 in a year (Buerhaus et al.). However, this figure is not constant because there are various factors that affect salaries for holders of Associate’s Degree in Nursing. Examples of such factors include years of experience, geographical location, and the facility at which one is employed. Below is a rough estimate of the hourly rates for the registered nurses in different capacities:
Registered Nurse (RN) – $19.86 – $35.27
Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room – $20.89 – $38.37
Registered Nurse (RN), Operating Room – $21.32 – $41.34
Registered Nurse (RN) Supervisor – $24.24 – $37.70
Charge Nurse (RN) – $21.48 – $36.45
Hospice Registered Nurse (RN) – $22.17 – $35.53
The demand for nurses with a higher level of skills is continually rising, and some hospitals are opting to hire nurses with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing or higher. However, BSN holders are best suited to work in specialized areas, such as physical rehabilitation and oncology. On the other hand, a nurse with ADN can carry out many different tasks that are indispensable in the healthcare sector.
From this discussion, it is clear that Associate’s Degree in Nursing still has a solid future as the graduates will be needed to fill the arising vacancies. The graduates produced by the BSN program cannot adequately meet the health care nursing needs, and their efforts need to be supplemented by nurses with different qualifications. For this reason, there is no reason to doubt the employability of ADN holders as they hold a crucial spot in defining the future of nursing. However, it is advisable that graduates under this program seek to advance their level of education. This will open up their career path to even more options, and to better prospects for higher pay.