The Benefits of a Two Year Nursing Degree Program
Nursing jobs are becoming more and more plentiful. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 711,900 new nursing positions will be created between 2010 and 2020. Many Registered Nurses (RNs) embark on their careers after completing a bachelor’s degree in nursing and passing a national exam that licenses them for patient care. But for those aspiring nurses who wish to enter the field quickly, an associate’s degree will suffice for some jobs and will be faster and cheaper than pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
There’s a number of ways to begin your nursing career. While advanced degrees (such as a master’s or a doctorate) may be helpful to those who wish to work in administration or scholarly research at a university, a certificate or degree from a two year nursing school is enough to provide real patient care, assist medical professionals, and contribute to public health awareness.
Depending on your educational and professional background, a two-year program can also advance your career by establishing new credentials and earning you a new degree. However, navigating these degree and certificate options can be difficult for those beginning their careers. Start by assessing your choices and use this resource to determine which path best suits your career needs.
Associate’s Degrees: Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN)
It takes about two years of college to earn your associate’s degree in nursing. It’s also important to decide what kind of training you’ll need to be a competitive candidate for employment. As associate’s degrees, these nursing programs are open to those who have graduated high school but do not yet want to pursue a four-year bachelor’s degree before entering the workforce and gaining real experience. The ASN and ADN typically take two years to complete.
The ASN and ADN are offered by community colleges and vocational schools. They usually require completing some general education courses (like humanities or social science classes) in addition to nursing-specific classes (like medicine or anatomy.) You will also have to complete hands-on training that use real nursing procedures in a clinical setting. Often referred to as your “clinicals,” this experience will be your first opportunity to apply your knowledge with real patients and under the guidance of seasoned Registered Nurses and other medical staff. Despite the fact that online associate’s degrees in nursing are not common, some schools can transfer credits you earned from general education courses (like required math classes) towards your associate’s degree.
In general, nurses that hold a bachelor’s degree enjoy a higher starting salary than those without bachelor’s degrees. Experience, job location, and a host of other factors account for differences in salary between jobs, but with only a two-year completion timeline and less tuition than a bachelor’s degree, associate’s degrees are practical for those who are eager to start their careers soon.
You might also determine that the additional training (and tuition costs) required to complete a four-year bachelor’s degree may not be necessary for your current employment goals. Working on the job after finishing a two-year program will give you the chance to experience the profession first-hand, letting you decide if nursing is the lifelong career for you. And after working in the field with an associate’s degree, you can always advance both your degree and your career opportunities with a number of BSN-completion options online or in brick-and-mortar schools.
Advance Your Nursing Career in 2 Years or Less
ADN to BSN degree
These programs offer ADN and ASN holders the opportunity to earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) quickly. Graduation is possible in as little as a year for those who have an associate’s in nursing from an accredited nursing school and are also a Registered Nurse (RN.) You may be able to complete online coursework to apply to your degree, but you will also need to perform clinical training at a brick-and-mortar campus or in a clinical setting.
LPN/LVN to BSN degree
Just as ADNs can advance to BSNs by completing additional coursework and clinical training, so can Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs.) LPNs, having already finished their associate’s degrees, can accelerate the completion of their bachelor’s degree. Holding a bachelor’s (BSN) can open opportunities for advancement and usually takes under two years.
RN to BSN degree
Nurses who hold a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) find that they enjoy more opportunities for advancement, flexibility, and leadership than those who do not. Registered Nurses who start their careers with diplomas or associate’s degrees can combine their on-the-job working experience with two years of coursework to complete their BSN. Because RNs already have clinical training and may already be working in the field, they can combine their practical experiences with online coursework to complete their degree.