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Associates degree for better nursing opportunities?

Would earning my Associates degree be more helpful in finding better nursing jobs? Being a RN sounds like a great career, and all i would need is an Associates and some experience. could getting my associates open up more technical careers within the healthcare industry to better learn about critical care?

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Eva’s Answer

Hi David, I would go for your Bachelor in Nursing (BSN) for your Registered Nurse license. You'll have so many more opportunities!
However, if that is not a possibility for you, get your Associates Degree and then go into a Accelerated BSN program.
Thank you comment icon You rock! This advice is very helpful. David
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H’s Answer

I started with an associates degree in the ICU. I worked with my associates for 18 years before obtaining my BSN. Some hospitals prefer BSN but not all. I think with an associates degree you still have many opportunities!
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Dr. Colette Forde’s Answer

Getting an Associates degree will not open up more jobs, it will allow you to start working as an RN (once you pass your NCLEX boards) at an earlier stage while you continue to pursue your BSN. Associate degree nurses are being hired due to the nursing shortage but the variety of positions available to you will be more limited than those open to BSN nurses. There are opportunities to be hired as a new graduate nurse directly into a critical care department and the best way to move into this specialty as a new graduate nurse is to apply to a new graduate transitions to practice program. These programs run over 6 - 12 months and offer additional classroom time and precepted clinical experiences. These programs are very competitive and your chances of entry are much higher if you have a BSN.

Working in critical care starts and ends with your patient. Without patients you will not need technology, so the patient remains front and center of any work that includes technology. There are expanding opportunities to work solely with technology in healthcare. You can work in informatics which means working with a team focused on improving their electronic medical record, making documentation easier for front line providers. You can work work full-time with databases, generally in the field of quality improvement. More examples include virtual nursing , one of the more commonly known one areas focuses on virtual nursing in an ICU. You work in a remote location with a team that includes intensivists, and experienced ICU nurses, monitoring a caseload of ICU patients, covering ICUs in different hospitals. You have the ability to call one of the frontline nurses and/or MDs to the bedside when you are alerted to clinical deterioration, servicing as a second set of eyes. This allows for more rapid intervention, possibly averting significant clinical events.

You will need extensive clinical experience at the bedside as an ICU nurse in order to secure one of these positions. Technology in healthcare is a rapidly growing field and is found in home care as another example. Many hospitals have introduced the use of robots to undertake tasks that do not require licensed staff i.e. delivering meal trays, delivering medications to the floor, etc., This is just a snapshot of the use of technology but for many of these positions, the more diversified experience you gain at the bedside, will allow you to more closely align with integrating and upgrading technology that delivers solutions and reduces unnecessary tasks and documentation for front line providers. Finally, a Master degree and/or a Masters degree in nursing informatics is currently the basic level of education for any nurses wanting to work full-time in informatics in many areas of the country.















Dr. Colette Forde recommends the following next steps:

Investigate opportunities where you live for associate degree versus BSN prepared nurses.
Investigate the areas where nurses are employed in technology and the criteria required to apply for one of these positions, both academic and clinical.
Once qualified, how easy will it be to secure one of these positions? Is remote work, or hybrid, a possibility?
How will you support yourself while you are in school ? Can you attend school full-time or work part-time and attend school on a part-time basis ? Are you willing to continue your education to obtain a Masters degree ?
Consider shadowing a nurse who works in these areas to get real live exposure to their day-to-day work ? Check the nursing associations associated with these specialities for more detailed descriptions. s
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Neil’s Answer

I have found that having a Bachelors degree allows me to be more marketable to a wider range of people and/or organizations. An additional step you may wish to take while going to school is to become a CNA. This can provide you with experience working in healthcare, and expose you to a variety of situations and/or environments that will later on aide you in selecting your nursing career path.
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Amy’s Answer

If you decide to go the associate route, that’s ok! Many school offer a bridge program - an RN (associate degree) to BSN (bachelor degree) program. You can still get your foot in the door with an associate’s degree.
I do agree with the suggestion of trying to get your Bachelor’s degree if you can as many places of employment prefer this over an associates.

Good luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for the advice, Amy. David
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Megan’s Answer

Hi I first obtained my associate degree RN and it was great! I can honestly say I made more than my Bachelor’s prepared Husband because of the positions I worked. A lot of people will say that it limits your job opportunities or company’s prefer Bachelor’s but I have never been rejected for any job I applied for when I had my associates. I worked in a Hospital, was a Manager in a home health company and worked for Neurosurgeons at a major University all as an Associate Degree Nurse. I went back several years later and got my BSN online and now I’m almost done with my Nurse Practitioner. I say go for the Associate first. Good luck
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