As a baccalaureate degree holder, you may have decided to look for a second bachelor’s degree in nursing or a master’s degree in nursing as part of a career change. As you may know, you can get a RN license with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a master of science in nursing (MSN). It’s going to be the same, exact RN license no matter where you go. However, that’s where the similarities end.
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
This is often the cheapest option when taken at a community college as an in-state student. On the other hand, there are private ADN nursing schools that are more expensive than most BSN and MSN options. Your bachelor’s degree will probably allow you to skip all of the GE courses that students normally have to take. Nevertheless, you may need to take some GE courses anyway because they’re explicitly part of the degree program such as psychology and speech. Most students without a bachelor’s degree will have already completed their GE requirements prior to entering the nursing program, so most nursing programs don’t give a break with regards to the number of courses taken during nursing school.
With regards to job prospects, many hospitals are now requiring student to hold a BSN (not just a non-nursing bachelor’s degree). Depending on the job market conditions in your area, you may find that the availability of jobs to be less for those who don’t have a BSN.
Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Accelerated Nursing Programs
The best second bachelor’s in nursing option is to get into an accelerated program. Because you already have a degree, you will not have to go through any of the GE requirements that take up to two years of a four year undergraduate program. In an accelerated BSN program, you can get a BSN and RN license within 12 to 18 months of intense full time study. In most cases, it will be faster than completing an ADN. The downside to the BSN is that they cost more than a community college ADN. However, the cost difference is minimal if you take your accelerated BSN at a public state university rather than at a private college.
Another way to get the BSN is to earn the ADN, pass the NCLEX-RN, and then complete a RN to BSN program. You need to make sure that your ADN nursing school is regionally accredited so that the courses you take in the ADN are transferable to the BSN program. This is mainly a problem with private vocational nursing programs. If you end up earning an ADN at a non-accredited school, your only option that doesn’t involve retaking courses is to get the BSN from the same non-accredited school. Yes, it is possible for the nursing board in your state to approve students in a non-accredited institution to sit for the NCLEX-RN.
Master’s Degree in Nursing
There are two ways to get the MSN. You can earn a BSN and then enroll in a BSN to MSN program. The other option is look to see if there are any entry level master’s in nursing program in your local area. The entry level program will only require a non-nursing baccalaureate degree. This will allow you to get maximum eligibility for nursing jobs that require a graduate degree.
Where to Take the Nursing Prerequisite Courses?
It doesn’t really matter where you take the courses as long as it’s an accredited college or university. That means you should take them at the cheapest place, which is your state community college. The only problem with this strategy is that there are often long wait lists for science courses like this which are used by many health related majors. Unlike regular courses, the professors in science courses cannot over-enroll due to the limited number of seats in the lab.