Transition from a Diploma or ADN to BSN

Going back to school when you’re a healthcare professional can be a difficult choice.

Thousands of nurses have enjoyed impactful careers after graduating from diploma or ADN programs across the country. Many have had to decide whether a BSN degree should be the next step in their careers.

The percentage of nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing is on the rise. A February 2019 report from the Campaign for Nursing’s Future noted 56% of nurses across the country have attained a BSN degree. That percentage of BSN nurses is the highest in history.

Before you take the next step, answer these nine questions to gain more clarity on whether advancing from a diploma or an ADN to BSN is right for you.

  1. What will a BSN degree mean for your salary?’s 2020 Nurse Salary Research Report notes this is one of the biggest benefits for nurses with a BSN degree. The average salary for a diploma nurse — according to responses from more than 7,400 nurses nationwide – was $55,000. ADN nurses earned more in annual salary, at $65,000. Those with a bachelor’s degree in nursing earned $73,000, more than 10% higher than nurses with associate degrees. From a financial standpoint, going from an ADN to a BSN does have its benefits.
  1. Can a BSN expand career opportunities? A bachelor of science in nursing will, in fact, open the door to new advancement opportunities. BSN nurses are able to reach more specific career goals, such as manager, coordinator and director roles in a number of care settings. Moving your career forward from an ADN, which are most common among community colleges, to a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which are hosted by four-year colleges and universities, may show a desire to take on more challenges.
  1. Does your state or facility require a higher degree? In December 2017, New York became the first state in the nation to pass BSN in 10 legislation, which required all registered professional nurses to achieve a BSN within a decade of initial licensure. More than 20 other states have considered such legislation. In addition, some healthcare facilities and health systems now require a BSN as the entry point for all new nursing hires.
  1. Will a BSN make you a better nurse? Some clinicians argue the experience level of a nurse — not a degree — determines skill level. Nurse researchers in several national studies have reported, however, that having more BSN-trained nurses on staff can help lower post-surgery complications and mortality, improve patient outcomes and ensure shorter lengths of stay.
  1. Can you afford the additional schooling? While today’s nursing programs have made the ADN to BSN transition easier than ever, they still come with a financial commitment that can vary widely. According to one website that compares costs of nursing schools, working nurses entering an RN to BSN program can expect a commitment of anywhere from $8,000 to $55,000.
  1. What are the options for going back to school? The most popular option is RN to BSN programs, which include in-class and online programs. Some healthcare systems also bring the educators to their facilities to make the educational transition more convenient for their nurses. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports there are nearly 800 RN to BSN programs nationwide. Among those, more than 600 offer some type of online option. These online programs offer nurses plenty of flexibility for those who must keep working or have families or older relatives to care for.
  1. Are you able to make the time commitment? Going from a diploma or an ADN to a BSN demands time from your schedule. Most bachelor’s degrees in nursing programs can be completed in no longer than 24 months. A number of colleges and universities also offer accelerated programs. These are a more intensive education experience, but they allow nurses to get their BSN in between 11 to 18 months.

  1. Will it help you move to a better job? The 2017 Job Satisfaction Survey showed nearly 3 out of 10 nurses are seeking new jobs. Slightly more than half, the survey revealed, are satisfied with their salary and benefits. Improving your education level from an ADN to BSN will make you a better candidate, according to nurse recruiters. There are a growing number of hospitals and healthcare facilities that want nurse candidates to have at least a BSN.
  1. Is it the right time to advance from ADN to BSN? There are plenty of considerations for nurses hoping to advance to a bachelor’s degree in nursing — family, finances, future, etc. Perhaps one of the most important questions to ask is does if fit into your life right now? Will it be a better fit when your young children enter school, or maybe when your teens head off to college? Only you know the best answer to those questions.

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