Competency Differences Between Associate Degree Nurse and Baccalaureate

This essay will explore the differences in competencies for nurses prepared at the associates and baccalaureate degree levels. Both degrees allow the nurse to enter in to the field of nursing as a Registered Nurse. The American Association of colleges of Nursing believes that education significantly impacts the knowledge base and competencies of nurse (AACN2010). BSN and ADN nurses have the same skills need to care for the patient’s, the BSN prepared nurse builds upon these skills. Educational preparation for both degrees includes a core curriculum focusing on preparing the nurse for acquired to in the clinical setting.

There are the educational pathways for Registered Nurses. An associate degree nurse enters a two year community college program, earning a student in associate degree in nursing, a three year diploma program offered by hospitals and a four year university or college program, earning the student a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing.

The associate degree program were first introduced in 1958 to relieve the shortage of nurses post world war.

The program focused on providing direct care for a patient with a well- defined common diagnosis. 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 skill, while considering patient health conditions and need. ADN nurses understand the needs for standardized data collection and assist in obtaining data in a comprehensive manner Competencies set forth for AND’S intend to center on caregiver, councilor, and educator Activities (LUCY J HOOD 2009).

ADN maintains accountability for her own actions and those of other health care peers for which she delegate task. ADN nurses assess, implement and plan patient care from admission to discharge.

BSN Nurses

BSN educational program last for four years. Baccalaureate curriculums include emphasis on critical thinking, research, leadership, management and community health. BSN nurses have excellent problem solving skills and have independent decision making capacities .The BSN 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 bases research in a holistic view of the individual, and their community.

BSN nursing knowledge is based on theory and research which allows opportunities to teach, assume a leadership role in the health care environment. BSN nurses not only provide more complex aspects of daily care and patient education, but also design and co-ordinate a comprehensive plan of nursing care for the entire length of a patient’s stay from pre-admission to post-discharge , including supervising nurses’ aides and other unlicensed assistive personnel, designing discharge and teaching plans for patient’s and collaborating with patient Physicians, families and of the hospital departments and resource personnel. An example of differences in patient care, ADN and BSN nurse are as follows. (Patient situation)

A 76 year old female patient admitted with the diagnosis of breast cancer to the oncology department. Cancer care technician arrives, providing daily care of a patient. An RN Arrives, welcome the patient, oriented the room, call bell, introduced staff, checks the vital signs, assess the skin, treatments given for the wound and evaluate the plan of care. A nurse with BSN degree is responsible for the co-ordination of all care provided, after assessing the patient and family needs. The nurse with a BSN collaborates with the physician, physical therapy pastoral care services, social worker and implement a plan of care for the patients based on their health care needs. The AACN “states the road to BSN, prepares the new nurse for a broader scope of practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient setting” (AACN, 2010). With the increase in complexity of today’s health care system, patient’s, along with advances in technology, our health care requires more highly educated nurses. We as nurses embrace education that prepares us to provide the best care possible for our patients.


American Association of colleges of health of nursing (2010). The impact of education on nursing practice. Retrieved from American ASSOCIATION OF
Nursing website: factsheets/ impactednp.htm

HOOD, L.J.(2010).

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