I’m an LPN – Should I get an associate (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN)?
If you’re pondering this question, you’re in the right place. Deciding which degree to get is a big decision and investment. The purpose of this blog is to give you an overview of the differences between an Associate Degree in Nursing and a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, including the advantages and disadvantages of each specifically for LPNs.
LPN vs RN: Why move from an LPN?
There are many differences between an RN and an LPN. You’re probably aware of most of them, but there are four main reasons you should advance:
- While you may assist in taking vitals and sometimes administer medications as an LPN, as an RN you will have an advanced knowledge base and the critical thinking skills to work in an acute care setting and care for patients with more advanced needs.
- Rather than reporting to an RN in your facility, you will have more independence and have more of a voice within the health care team.
- You are more likely to be selected for new, exciting opportunities and promotions if you have the ‘RN’ behind your name, not to mention that registered nurses are in higher demand. NursingLicensure.org reads, “Nursing is one of the few fields where there is more demand at the higher levels of practice than the lower ones. Nationwide, there are far more RNs with active licenses than LPNs — 3,236,288 to 816,687. Why? Their skills – and legally allowable duties — are needed.”
- Finally the big one – get paid more! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the average RN’s salary was 24,000 higher than the average LPN’s.
ASN vs BSN Degree for LPNs
There are many pros and cons to each program, so how do you decide which is right for you? We’ve decided to just give you a clear summary of the benefits of each program to help you decide which is right for your situation.
Benefits of an LPN-to-ADN Program
- Speed. An ADN program is much faster to complete because it is only a two-year degree. At Nightingale College, LPNs can graduate from the ADN Program in as few as eight months due to our LPN Advanced Placement Program. (To request info from admissions about the program, click here.) For those looking to advance their career to the next step quickly, an ADN may be the best option; however, because of the speed, these programs can be quite intense, making it difficult to continue working full time.
- Money Faster. Completing an ADN program only takes two years, (or as little as 8 months for LPNs at Nightingale). You get to start working as an RN faster, which increases the cash flow. And if you decide later that you want to pursue a BSN, you can always bridge to that later, and many RN-to-BSN programs are offered completely online. (But you can’t go straight from LPN to BSN online!)
- ROI. For as little time as you invest, there really is a large salary differential from LPN to RN.
Benefits of an LPN-to-BSN Program
- Intensity. Many BSN programs can be slower paced, which allows you to keep working without burning yourself out so quickly. If you have other responsibilities, like a family for example, this program will allow you more flexibility to be with them.
- Cost. If your plan is to become a BSN nurse no matter what, a BSN program is going to be cheaper than enrolling in an LPN-to-RN program then enroll into an RN-to-BSN program. BSN programs also tend to have a lower monthly payment than ADN programs.
- Specialization Opportunities. If your dream is to work in PICU, flight nursing, oncology, or another specialized field, a BSN is a minimum requirement. Here’s a list of the most popular specialized nursing fields.
- Education Advancement. If you plan on continuing your nursing journey to an MSN or higher, you’re going to need a BSN to start your journey.
- Requirement. In some facilities, like acute health care providers, a BSN is mandatory even for entry-level positions. So if you want to have the ability to work in any facility without worrying whether an ASN degree will get you the job, a BSN is a good thing to have under your belt.
- Advancement Opportunities. Nurses with a BSN title are more likely to be selected for management roles, but also continue providing bedside patient care. A common misconception is that BSN nurses only work in administrative positions. While this may be true because most administrative positions require at least a BSN, many RNs providing patient care have a BSN degree and choose to not seek management or administrative roles.
Nightingale College specializes in nursing education, and we’d love to help you advance your nursing career.