Earning an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, is the quickest way to become a registered nurse, or RN. Many nurses advance no further than an associate degree during their careers and are perfectly content. For those who want to advance into more involved roles, however, and those who want to command the highest pay, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or BSN, is a smart move. Luckily, you don't have to go back to square one to start working toward your BSN. ADN to BSN bridge programs build upon your existing knowledge and take your previous education and work experience into consideration, allowing you to earn your BSN more quickly. Learn more about these programs by reading on below.
What are ADN-to-BSN Bridge Programs?
An ADN to BSN bridge program is one that allows RNs who hold associate degrees to build upon their experience in order to earn their bachelor’s degrees more quickly. Whereas it typically takes four years to earn a BSN, most ADN to BSN bridge programs can be completed in two to three years. The average program consists of 120 total credit hours, with 40 credit hours for lower-level classes, 30 credit hours for upper-level classes and 30 credit hours of clinical training.
Requirements for Admission
If you want to enroll in an ADN to BSN program, make sure that you meet all of the requirements for admission. There are nearly 700 accredited ADN to BSN bridge programs in the country, and they all vary to some degree. However, such programs always require students to have their RN licenses. You must usually have at least six months of experience working as an RN. You will have to provide transcripts to show that you earned your high school diploma or GED. In most instances, you will also have to undergo a health assessment and criminal background check before being admitted.
Considerations to Make when Selecting a Program
It is crucial to select an ADN to BSN bridge program that is properly accredited. Otherwise, you may not be eligible to sit for the licensing exam upon completion. Choose a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, or ACEN, or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, or CCNE.
If you think you will struggle to find time to complete your studies, consider taking an online ADN to BSN bridge program. More than 400 of the existing programs have online components. However, regardless of which program you choose, you will have to complete hands-on clinical experiences in person.
Prerequisites for ADN-to-BSN Bridge Programs
In most cases, a number of general education courses are prerequisites for ADN to BSN bridge programs. Most students complete these during their initial ADN training, so you shouldn't have to do anything extra. Examples include chemistry, English composition, anatomy and physiology, and biology. You may also have to provide transcripts that show you maintained a certain grade point average while completing your studies.
Common Courses in ADN-to-BSN Bridge Programs
Since you have earned your ADN, you already have an idea for what to expect during ADN to BSN training. These programs typically begin with lower-level nursing courses like biology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and nutrition and diet. When you move into the more advanced classes, you can expect to take courses such as nursing leadership, healthcare informatics, ethics in nursing, pharmacology, adult health nursing, community-based nursing, and health assessments. Programs like these also typically include at least one course that covers transitioning to professional nursing.
No matter which ADN to BSN bridge program you choose, you will have to meet your clinical training requirement to graduate. Most programs require around 30 hours of hands-on clinical training in local healthcare facilities. This is because you will be asked to demonstrate your proficiency in various skills during the NCLEX-RN.
The majority of campus-based ADN to BSN bridge programs line up clinical training experiences for their students. Most online programs and some traditional programs require students to arrange their own training. Either way, hands-on training must be completed at an approved healthcare facility. Most students complete their training at local hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, and other facilities.
While you do not need a bachelor’s degree to work as an RN, having one opens up many doors. If you think you will ever want to progress into more advanced roles as a nurse, it is in your best interest to earn your BSN. The right ADN to BSN bridge program will help you become a nurse with an associate degree to being a nurse with a bachelor’s degree seamlessly.