What is an Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Nursing is a popular career path, but not everyone has the time, flexibility, or money right after high school to get a 4 year bachelor’s degree. And associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is a 2 year degree that you can earn after finishing high school. It provides you with the required education and clinical training to sit for the NCLEX exam and become a Registered Nurse (RN). Back when nursing programs were first developed, ADNs were the only programs available. Now we have multiple degree levels for nurses and ADN programs are often just the tip of the iceberg for many people who are starting their nursing careers.

Why Should I Get an Associate’s Degree in Nursing?

An ADN may be the right fit for you if you are looking to jump-start your career but do not have the time and/or flexibility to do a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN). It is also a great next step for people currently working as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), medical assistants, or other healthcare roles. Additionally, you may find that an ADN is a good option for you if you are looking for quality nursing education but are unsure of where you want to take your career in the long term. ADN courses can often be taken at community colleges which can offer the busy adult increased flexibility.

Entrance Requirements for ADN Programs

Entrance requirements for ADN programs depend on your school, but in general you can expect similar requirements to Bay State College:

  • You will need a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED) to apply for ADN programs.
  • Filling out an application is a requirement for every ADN program. Applications commonly involve filling out demographic information, education and work background including your high school GPA, writing essays, as well as answering other questions.
  • Most educational programs in any field will require one or more letters of recommendation.
  • Paying an application fee is common and pricing can vary depending on the school

What Pathways Exist for Earning My ADN?

Earning your ADN can be done through 2 year full-time in person or online programs, or through part time programs. What you choose may depend on your personal lifestyle. Unlike some bachelors and masters in nursing programs, there are no non-traditional pathways to earning your ADN. When vetting your programs make sure that the school is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Online ADN Programs

Online programs have become a popular option for adults who are seeking to advance their careers in any field. The advantages of an online program are numerous. It can allow you to attend school from the comfort of your own home and organize required clinical hours at a location near you. This can help relieve your stress of juggling your personal life commitments while being a student. You can often go at your own pace with part-time or full-time options.

What Will I Study in My ADN Program?

ADN programs will prepare you through coursework and clinical experiences to provide care to patients as an RN. While courses may vary a bit depending on the university, you can expect something similar to some of what is offered at Chamberlain University:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nursing Concepts and Patient Care
  • Maternal and Child Nursing
  • Adult Health
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Nursing Care of Children
  • Microbiology and Chemistry

What Are the Clinical Requirements for an ADN Program?

Clinical requirements are decided by each state’s Board of Nursing (BON). Usually they require around 500 hours of hands on clinical experience to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam but it is important to check the requirements of the state you wish to practice in first. See our state guides for more information! Clinical hours provide you with the opportunity to be a safe hands on learner. This is where you get to put your skills to practice while still having a teacher near by to supervise, teach, and correct you. This helps build your confidence while also ensuring that you will be the safe and caring nurse that you are striving to be.

How Much Will an ADN Program Cost?

ADN programs typically base tuition costs on credit hours. The price of your education may depend on whether you go to a private or public university. There are so many options to pay for your nursing education. There are many scholarship opportunities for prospective nurses.

After you receive your degree there are also options to get tuition repayment. Some of these options are the Nurse Corps Loan Forgiveness program and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program. By working in a medically underserved area you can get your loans forgiven through these two options. Managing the stress of the financial burden we all take when we enter into school can be alleviated by knowing you have options to pay it off later. The following programs are additional ways in which you can get your education paid for.

How Much Do Nurses With a ADN Earn?

Your salary will depend on a few factors, not just your degree type. Nurses who work in community health, nursing home, elementary school settings may make less than their inpatient nursing counterparts, but they will likely also find their career just as rewarding. You can expect to make more money if you work in an urban area versus a rural one and of course your salary will increase with experience. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics RNs earn a median salary of $70,000. While this typically refers to nurses with a BSN, with experience and ADN nurse can earn that amount as well.

Where Can I Work with an ADN Degree?

With your ADN in nursing you will be able to work in many different fields. Below are just some of the areas or specialties where ADN RNs can work. Some of these jobs may require additional training or certifications depending on the state/organization where you work. Others just require that you be licensed as an RN.

  • Ambulatory care nurse: As an ambulatory care nurse you will care for patients in an outpatient setting. This can be with a variety of populations such as adults, obstetrical patients, or pediatrics.
  • Medical-surgical nurse: You will work inpatient in a hospital assessing, evaluating, and providing interventions for patients with acute illnesses and/or recent surgeries.
  • Community health nurse: You will work in the community to improve health through providing education, health screens, immunizations, and more.
  • School nurse: You will work as a part of a school or university to care for students and manage minor illnesses, injuries, medications, and more.
  • Home health care nurse: You will visit patients in their home to help them manage their conditions by administering medication, providing wound care, educating them and more.
  • Emergency nurse: As a part of the emergency department team you will help triage, assess, monitor, and care for patients with medical emergencies.
  • Hospice nurse: As a hospice nurse you will work in a hospice facility or patient homes to manage their medication and comfort as they move towards the end of life.

4 Step To Register for the NCLEX

Registering for the NCLEX is a process, and your school should actively help you with this. There are a few different steps you need to take so make sure you know when you would like to take the NCLEX, and plan ahead.

  1. Sign up or register through your State Board of Nursing (BON). This is so that you can be eligible to sit for the NCLEX. You can find information to contact your state BON through the NCBSN website. The actual exams are offered weekly, but registering through your BON can take weeks so don’t save it for the last minute.
  2. Eligibility requirements to sit for the NCLEX are determined by your state’s BON, so be sure to check with them.
  3. Next you need to register for the NCLEX through Pearson VUE. Don’t forget to look up your program code! Your school can help you with this if you have trouble.
  4. Now study like crazy and use our NCLEX tips and practice exams to ensure that you pass with flying colors.

Find a Campus or Online RN Program in Your State

Find a campus or online RN program in your state. View NCLEX Exam rankings by school, tuition costs, average loan rates, and additional data points that will help you find the best RN program for your career.

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ADN Resources

American Association of Colleges of Nursing

Denisco, S. M., Barker, A. M., (2016). Advanced practice nursing: Essential knowledge for the profession. Burlington, MA: Jones and Barlett Learning.

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