What is the Associate degree in Nursing (ADN)?
There are different paths one may take to enter nursing. You could enroll in an ADN or a Registered Nurse (RN) program. The primary difference is that the former is a college degree, whereas the latter is a diploma. Both take about the same average amount of time – two years. Most RN programs are hospital-based schools of nursing, which teach students the fundamentals of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, biology, surgical nursing, psychiatry, or psychology, and more. Similarly, the ADN program typically includes anatomy, physiology, chemistry, psychology, microbiology, and statistics.
Employers might prefer candidates who have an associate degree to graduates with an RN diploma. An ADN usually includes clinical hours as part of a sixty-credit curriculum. ADN programs are also available online. Distance learning allows students the convenience of studying from home, and it can be a substantial cost-saving learning format. The student will perform the required clinical hours at an approved medical facility. Clinical rotations might take place in a hospital, nursing home, medical clinic, or rehabilitation facility.
When choosing an online ADN, look for schools approved by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The ACEN has a quick search directory by state to find accredited nursing programs from Practical to Doctorate. In contrast, the CCNE site lists only programs from Baccalaureate to Doctor of Nursing.
During your search, you may discover two possible choices at the associate level. There is an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing and an Associate in Science in Nursing. Excelsior College, for example, offers both online with eight-week sessions. Students set their own pace. The nursing courses are the same for both – the difference lies in the General Education requirements.
What is the next step after your ADN?
When reviewing ADN programs, the majority of schools refer to the NCLEX-RN examination. Nursing is a licensed profession. The NCLEX or National Council Licensure Examination applies to all states, including Guam, American Samoa, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands. Despite the conformity, each state sets its rules and regulations for prospective nurses. The typical qualifications to work as an RN are as follows:
- Complete an accredited nursing school or program.
- After receiving your ADN degree or diploma, you register for the NCLEX-RN exam to the Nursing Regulatory Body (NRB). If you meet the requirements, you will receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) email. The ATT is generally valid for 90 days.
- Register for the exam at Pearson Vue. It attests to being a global leader for millions to take computer-based tests covering various occupations—for example, jobs in government, healthcare, IT, finance, and the military. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. (NCSBN) develops and administers the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. There are registration and test fees.
- Receive NCLEX Registration Acknowledgement email from Pearson Vue.
- From the NCSBN site, you can commence preparation for the exam by taking the practice test.
- Schedule your exam with Pearson. Additional information regarding a tutorial and examination locations is available at the Pearson Vue site.
It is essential to read the RN requirements for the state where you plan to work. Some states mandate criminal background checks or have specific education modules you must complete. New York State requires all candidates to complete two training courses. These are Child Abuse Identification and Reporting and Infection Control. The Ohio Board of Nursing, as another example, requires applicants to submit fingerprints to the FBI and Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI) for investigation and analysis.
The captioned query uses the words: “multiple states.” Those who pass the NCLEX allow them to work throughout the United States and territories. One test qualifies nurses to work across the nation. However, as noted, some states have additional laws, such as fingerprinting, which you must satisfy. Many states have reciprocity allowing you to work while meeting the State Board of Nursing requirements. Michigan, for example, grants a provisional license after the Board verifies your license is in good standing in the state from which you are moving. For continuity of employment, it’s advisable to obtain approval before changing your state of residence, if possible.