Until fairly recently, the majority of nurses in the United States held a two-year degree (Associate Degree of Nursing, or ADN) that provided all the qualifications they needed to enter the field and become a successful nurse. Traditionally, with an ADN, nurses can sit for the RN licensing exam and then move on to many of the available nursing jobs in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and other care facilities.
While nurses with an ADN still can find gainful employment in the nursing field, it’s becoming more common for employers to look first to nurses with a Bachelor’s level degree (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, or BSN). BSN holders often take precedence over ADNs in the employment pool, and in many cases, only nurses with BSN degrees are considered for promotions, managerial positions, or teaching opportunities.
In fact, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) has issued a formal recommendation that by 2020, 80 percent of nurses have a Bachelor’s degree. Because the focus of a BSN is not on vocational training, but on creating a foundation of education that will continue to grow throughout a lifetime, many people feel that BSNs are the future of the field. It transforms nursing from a job to a career—and one that’s on par with doctors and other high-level medical professionals.