If you're an RN with an associate degree and still on the fence about going back to school to earn a BSN, one of the driving factors will probably be what you can expect to make once you graduate.
In Louisiana, there is a significant difference, with BSNs earning substantially more. According to ZipRecruiter, nurses with an ADN earn an average of $68,563 a year, while those with a BSN make an average of $82,308 a year, as of July 2019.
The Differences Between an ADN and a BSN
One of the first differences prospective nursing students notice about the degrees is the time required to earn them. It typically takes two years to complete an ADN program, while it usually takes four years to earn a BSN. Many choose the ADN for this reason — to become an RN quicker and begin their careers as soon as possible. But because ADN programs are so much shorter, they don't cover some of the higher-level aspects of nursing, such as leadership, evidence-based practice and research, just to name a few.
The advanced knowledge gained in a bachelor's program makes a BSN graduate more likely to get a job over someone with an ADN. A BSN will also help pave the way for a nurse to pursue a master's or doctorate.
Nurses with graduate degrees in Louisiana make significantly more money than those with an associate degree or even a BSN. For example, a nurse midwife in Louisiana makes an average of $93,671 per year, according to ZipRecruiter (July 2019). Nurse anesthetists in Louisiana make even more: $161,050.
The BSN Advantage
There are many successful, excellent nurses across the country who entered the field with an ADN, but advancing in one's career without a BSN may soon be a thing of the past.
One reason is that hospitals are increasingly demanding that new hires have a BSN. It is becoming more and more difficult for nurses in Louisiana and the rest of the U.S. to break into the profession with an ADN alone.
Hospitals that want to achieve Magnet status — the highest distinction possible from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for both patient care and nursing excellence — are particularly stringent about the qualifications of the nurses they hire. Hospitals seeking Magnet recognition require 100% of nurse managers and nurse leaders need to have at least a BSN.
Many healthcare facilities and nursing schools have taken the IOM's recommendations to heart and are working to increase the proportion of BSN-prepared nurses in the workforce to 80%. One of the main reasons for this recommendation is improved patient outcomes. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reported the results of studies correlating BSN-prepared nurses with the following patient outcomes:
- Lower risk of death
- Shorter hospital stays
- Lower healthcare costs
While ADN-prepared nurses are well-trained and competent care providers, they may lack some of the skills and knowledge necessary to practice at the highest levels in today's changing healthcare landscape. If you want to take your nursing practice to the next level — and earn more money — consider enrolling in an online RN to BSN program.
Learn more about the University of Louisiana Monroe's online RN to BSN program.
Have a question or concern about this article? Please contact us.