An associate degree in nursing is perhaps the most commonly taken route into a nursing career. This two year academic program is an intensive introduction to the profession. As compared to a bachelor's degree, which targets the more academic aspects of nursing, an ADN program is more technical in nature. It aims at equipping students with the practical knowledge they will need in their role as a nurse. This can be earned from two-year technical or community colleges. An increasing number of students are also turning to online programs in nursing.
Online associate degree in nursing allows students to study according to their own schedule. This allows many students to keep their full-time jobs while they complete their degree program. This aspect makes an online program ideal for mid-career professionals looking to switch fields. Online programs are also more cost effective, making them more feasible for many students. While tuition and fees may not be necessarily lower than on-campus programs, lower expenses for other areas bring the total cost down. These include room and board, meal programs, transportation, and school supplies.
It is also important that before enrolling in a program, applicants should verify that it is certified by the state in which they plan to practice. This will help to ensure they have no issues when applying for licensure.
Candidates applying for admission into an associate nursing program need to have at least a high school diploma. Having a GED certificate will also qualify candidates for admission into this program.
Some colleges will also expect candidates to take the Scholastic Level Exam (SLE) prior to applying for an associate program in nursing. They will also have to write a college essay and provide references to go with their application.
A typical ADN program curriculum is designed to be completed in two academic years. Since associate level programs are geared towards professional training, students study under qualified professionals. They become well-versed in what is expected from them in their roles as nurses after completion of the program. This program also introduces the different aspects of nursing to students, so this helps them when they decide to specialize in one of the many branches of nursing. Nursing specific courses may include a study of physiology, anatomy, family health, pharmacology, pediatric health, geriatric care, and mental health. Students may also have to complete some basic requirements such as a liberal art or a social science course along with a writing course.
All students who complete an ADN program have to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination). Most courses in an associate degree program in nursing are developed in a way that they prepare students for this exam. Students may then apply for a nursing license after passing this exam.
Career and Salary
Career options vary for every graduate depending on their own goals and preferences. While some students may enroll in a program to further their degree like a four-year program, others may look to specialize in a field. A large number of ADN graduates choose to work as RNs (registered nurses). According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), the median annual salary of RNs in 2010 was $64,690. The job growth outlook is given at 26%, which is faster than the average growth rate.