Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN or ASN)

ASN and ADN programs are basically the same program with 2 names, although ADN is the most commonly used term. You can complete both in about 2 years and both are offered by community colleges, technical schools and some traditional universities. An ADN will prepare you for entry-level nursing positions as well as provide you with the knowledge and skills that you need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and earn your RN license.

Traditional and accredited online associate in nursing programs are available, and both serve as stepping stones toward higher undergraduate and graduate degrees. More advanced programs will usually recognize your ADN coursework and clinical hours and count them toward a bachelors or even masters degree.

Your ADN program will emphasize a broader general education than a nursing diploma. However, if you decide later to enroll in an on-campus or accredited online bachelor in nursing program, you will probably be required to take even more theoretical and liberal arts courses.

Additionally, unlike nursing diploma programs, an associates in nursing will usually require you to complete your general coursework at the beginning of the program. In some cases, you may not even be allowed to enroll in classes until you complete prerequisite courses like biology, chemistry, English composition and algebra.

Who should pursue a nursing associates degree?

Students who want to earn an RN license quickly and inexpensively often choose an associates degree in nursing as an alternative to a nursing diploma. Unlike traditional or online nursing diploma programs, an ADN provides an open educational pathway to more advanced degrees. With an associates, you can earn your RN license and then work for a few years before you decide whether or not to pursue a bachelors or masters degree.

Additionally, ADN programs are usually offered by technical and community colleges, which tend to have much lower tuition fees than bachelors programs at full-fledged universities. Associate programs can usually be completed in about 2 years, and the college credits that you earn can reduce the time that you need to complete your bachelors degree from 4 years to 2 years.

Finally, some of the best ADN programs online can provide you with the flexibility to continue working while you study. You will still have to complete your clinical hours on-site in a healthcare setting, but there are numerous accredited associates online programs that will allow you to fulfill your coursework requirements from home at whatever time of day fits your schedule.

Nursing associates courses

Whether you choose a brick-and-mortar or an accredited online associates in nursing program, your curriculum will first focus on general science and liberal arts classes. After you fulfill these requirements, you will be ready to move on to nursing courses. Some specific courses might include:

Nursing pharmacology

As 1 of the most common courses for both traditional and online associate programs, this class will introduce you to various drug classifications and the effects that they have on the body. Courses in pharmacology will also teach you the proper procedures for administering medication to patients.

Oral and interpersonal communication

These courses will train your listening and communication skills and emphasize how to use them in a healthcare setting. You will participate in group activities and hold individual presentations that teach you how to effectively work together with a clinical team and clearly communicate with your patients.

Pathophysiology and nursing interventions

This course focuses on teaching you how to provide care for patients with various types of illnesses such as chronic respiratory, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal diseases. You will learn to assess the risk factors that are associated with each of the body systems as well as how to develop preventative treatments for patients.

Mental health

As the name suggests, this course teaches you about various types of emotional and psychiatric disorders as well as common practices for treating them. You will learn to detect signs of mental illness and determine which kinds of therapy are most effective in treating them.

Gaining admission to a nursing associates program

If you are ready to apply to 1 of the many ADN programs online or on campus, you should be aware of the most common admission requirements at this level. For instance, both ADN online and brick-and-mortar programs will request a copy of your high school diploma or GED. Additionally, many admissions boards will look for good scores on your SAT or ACT.

Additionally, some associates programs require you to submit 2 or 3 letters of personal reference from previous teachers or employers. Some of the most competitive schools will even ask you to submit writing samples, which can usually be an English term paper from high school.

It is important to remember that even online associate degrees in nursing will require hands-on clinical practice. Therefore, in order to ensure that applicants do not compromise the health or safety of patients, almost all schools will ask you to provide proof of immunizations as well as a criminal background check.

Holding a job during your nursing associates program

As an ADN student you will find a number of healthcare jobs and internship opportunities through local hospitals and clinics, especially in urban areas. Although not everyone can deal with the demands of studying for classes, fulfilling clinical requirements and working on the side, many ADN students do hold jobs. Additionally, the best online associate degree programs will make it easier for their students to hold jobs by offering convenient clinical practice hours as well as online coursework.

If you decide to get a part-time job working as a nurse’s aide in a hospital, for instance, you will probably find that this added work experience provides you with valuable practical insights into the field. Additionally, this experience will often give you a competitive advantage over your peers when you start to look for nursing jobs after graduation.

Some local medical centers hire students for paid extern positions in a variety of nursing fields. These jobs can help you sharpen your clinical and critical thinking skills as you assist patients under the supervision of a registered nurse. Most of these programs only hire students who are enrolled in an associates or bachelors program and have completed their first rotation of clinical or surgical work. Be sure to check with local hospitals and clinics about employment opportunities for students.

Studying online for an associates degree in nursing

Regardless of which online associates school that you choose, it will almost definitely be a hybrid program. A hybrid program allows you complete your liberal arts and science coursework using an online format. Although every online degree is different, these programs do not require you to travel to campus to attend lectures. Most will allow you to submit coursework and take exams over the Internet.

All accredited online programs will still require you to complete your practical training hours in a real clinical setting, but some of the top online programs offer their clinical practice sessions in the evenings or on weekends. Therefore, even if you work or have family obligations during the day, these programs make it possible for you to earn an undergraduate nursing degree, prepare for the NCLEX and get your license.