Competency Differences in ADN Nurses and BSN Nurses Essay

This paper will explore the differences in competencies for nurses prepared at the associates and baccalaureate degree levels. Both allow the graduate to enter into the field of nursing as a Registered Nurse. There are distinct differences in the educational preparation and resulting competencies. Identifying differences of the ADN and BSN prepared nurse requires looking at similarities of the degrees. Educational preparation for both degrees includes a core curriculum focusing on preparing the nurse for practice in the clinical setting.

Skills are acquired to assume the RN role with the ability to practice safely in the inpatient and clinical settings. ADN Nurses ADN programs were first introduced in 1958 to relieve the shortage of nurses post world war. The ADN degree is a 2 year program focused on providing direct patient care for a clientele with a well-defined common diagnosis. The practice setting has a well-established structured environment. Facilities have protocols which the nurse takes direction from and refers to for guidance. ADN curriculum is technical in nature focusing on task oriented clinical skills, while considering patient health conditions and needs.

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The ADN nurse recognizes the necessity of practicing within the scope of practice, and legal parameters. Nursing research sets parameters for scopes of practice. ADN nurses understand the needs for standardized data collection and assist in obtaining data in a comprehensive manner. Competencies set forth for ADN’s intend to center on caregiver, councilor, and educator activities. Lucy J. Hood (2009) The ADN maintains accountability for her own actions and actions of other health care peers for which she delegates tasks. BSN NURSE The BSN educational program lasts for 4 years.

The baccalaureate graduate will have the same skills set and responsibilities the ADN achieved and more. Baccalaureate curriculums include emphasis on critical thinking, research, leadership, management, and community health. Focusing on the humanities, liberal arts with spiritual perspectives incorporated the program explores social influences, human diversity, ethics, legal practices, and philosophy of nursing. The baccalaureate program graduates assume the same responsibilities of the associate degree nurse yet their role is far more expanded.

The baccalaureate nurse incorporates the physical, social, spiritual, intellectual, and emotional components to address the overall health of the individual. Applying theory of nursing knowledge from evidence based research in a holistic view of the individual, the community, and society. Baccalaureate nurses have formal training in research modalities and study behaviors. These provide BSN graduates preparation to think independently using critical thinking skills, planning care around individual needs of the client.

BSN nursing knowledge based on theory and research allows opportunities to teach, assuming a leadership role in the health care environment. BSN nurses are prepared to provide community health care and address needs of the general populace. Developing community based health care programs, participating in research, applying critical thinking skills to practice in more non-structured settings using independent nursing decisions. BSN nurses often write policy and procedures and have the options of pursuing more advanced practice.

Educational preparation enhances professional development and allows the BSN graduate to understand many social, cultural, economic, and political issues that impact patients and influence health care. (Peoria magazine. 2009) The education the BSN nurse receives prepares her for roles in the ever evolving and expanding health care field. Employment opportunities are more numerous for the BSN nurse, with more diversity of jobs from which to choose. Patient Situation Patient enters the hospital; staying with relatives, and is in active labor.

The associate degree nurse assigned the patient takes her history during admission. Start her IV and does the technical tasks necessary. The patient asks the nurse when she will receive an x-ray. Further inquiry by the nurse discovers history of a positive TB test and need for x-ray after the baby is born. The ADN nurse consults the doctor; moves the patient to a negative flow room, puts isolation equipment in place, and universal precaution signs for respiratory illness; instructs family and visitors on required precautions.

She instructs the patient how to protect the infant from potential infection. The nurse informs infection control of the patient’s condition. She schedules x-ray for the patient post-delivery. Essentially the ADN nurses’ responsibility ends here. The BSN infection control nurse notifies the public health nurse. Both these BSN nurses collaborate on the situation. They interview the patient, review available history attempting to determine source of infection, extent of people exposed in the patients’ household.

Interviews with family members determine source of the infection was a noncompliant family member diagnosed previously. This resulted in TB testing for entire household and initiating treatment as appropriate, providing education regarding the disease, and its potentially lethal consequences. The public health nurse notifies state authority maintaining records of numbers of active cases in the community. This is one example of the broader scope of practice of the Baccalaureate nurse.

In conclusion both the ADN degree and BSN degree nurses have obtained education for entry level positions in the nursing field. The baccalaureate nurse has more opportunity for advancement with a broader scope of practice.


Hood, Lucy J. (2010) Conceptual Bases of Professional Nursing (7th Ed. ). GCU College of Nursing (02/04) Baccalaureate Curriculum Model. Peoria Magazine (April 2009) Importance of Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing. GCU College of Nursing Philosophy (3/19/2008). National League of Nursing: http://www. nln. org American Nurses Association http:wwwnursingworld. org