Wednesday, June 11, 2014

ASN vs BSN: What's The Right Path for this Pre-Nursing Student?

As with anything, there are pros and cons to both pathways and I'll become a Registered Nurse either way, but what's the difference between a Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) vs Bachelor of Science Nursing (BSN) pathway? Most importantly, what's the best pathways for me?

My Situation
First, I already have a BA in English Literature. Secondly, my goal is to get a Master's therefore, I need to get a BSN in order to get into a Master's Program. Lastly, I have a mortgage and all the bills associated with home ownership.

ASN bridge to BSN
In order to save money, I'm doing my prerequisites at a community college. The school that I attend works closely with Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing which is where I could earn an ASN degree (2 year program). This is a less expensive option, but it will take me more time since I have to do an additional year to bridge from a ASN to a BSN, making it 3 years.

Going straight for the BSN 
As a 2nd degree student, with a GPA above 3.5, I have the option of going straight into a BSN program after I finish my prerequisites. It's faster but it can be twice as expensive and these programs are difficult to get into. The great thing about this is that if I get into an accelerated program, I'll earn a BSN in just 12 - 15 months depending on what school I get into. By 2020 hospitals in CT are required to have a ratio of 80 : 20 , BSN : ASN degrees among their nursing staff so getting a job as a BSN is preferred.

How will I pay for it
I've been living on my own since I was 19 so I'm always trying to figure out how to stay in the black. I've spoken to a few nurses, my nursing adviser, and even a random RNs on the train to get their perspective and they all say the same thing. Go for the BSN, especially since I have a BA already. Get a student loan and pay it back when you get your job.

Suze Orman's rule of thumb is to take out only up to the dollar amount you'll be making for 1-year of salary at the new job. I'm saving as much money as I possibly can knowing full well that it's not going to be enough, therefore, I'll have to get loans for the rest of it.

The worst part of the decision is trying to figure out if and how I'll be able to afford it all. The only thing I know that I'm going to keep pushing forward no matter what and eventually I'll get there.


  1. Keep pushing. However, set your long term goals as well. the average amount of time to stay as a floor nurse shouldn't be more than three years and then you should start pushing to go into management, public health administration or academic research administration. in other words start researching nursing fields where you can make an optimum salary. this will help you to pay back your loans and have more personal satisfaction. even the best nurses tire of the physical requirements and being supervised by others. the fiel d of nursing is wide open. you can even start your own business within the field. this suggestion coming from one whose parent was a nurse and after working with nurses in other fields. wish you the bestl. may be some typos from my cell phone. sorry.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I'm going to work from the CRNA master's program that I'm looking at and work my way backward. That's what I did in the beginning but now that my advisers says I should go for straight for the BSN now, I'm going to have to weight the cost and time for both options.

  2. I am in a very similar situation to you. I have no children, I'm 36, have a B.S. in Anthropology and Sociology and an Associate degree in Clinical Laboratory Technology. I've spent the last 14 years in the clinical lab (mostly in blood banking), so nursing is a second career for me. I began taking the few prerequisites I needed to go to nursing school this past summer - A&P I and II, a psych class, and micro. I chose nursing because I want to be in a field that will allow me to pursue advancement without having to be in a purely administrative position. The clinical lab allows me to do work that is of benefit to people, but it can't offer the advancement that I need. My goal is to become a CRNA.

    Here's what I plan to do to get from the RN to the Master's level nursing specialty (I say specialty in general because I can't be 100% sure that CRNA will be for me until I actually start nursing). I have applied to nursing school, and will know about acceptance in the next few weeks. I'm definitely doing the 2-year RN first. In my state, there is very little difference in pay between the RN and the BSN. At my local large university, they have a program for 2nd degree students like me that is an all in one going from a non nursing B.S. all the way to the MSN. Something like this might be worth looking into, if one is available to you. I decided it wasn't the best option for me, the primary reasons being that I'm paying out of pocket for my RN , plus the length of time to completion would mean putting a LOT of money in before I earned any kind of concrete certification/license. Also, I'm single, no family support, so I have to be able to work full time while I'm in RN school, and those consolidated non nursing to BSN/MSN programs are really not set up for that.

    The path I've chosen for myself is to do the 2-year RN, and then do either a bridge program RN-BSN (which takes about a year) and then do the CRNA, OR go straight from the RN with non nursing B.S. into an RN-MSN bridge program with some other advanced nursing specialty. My hope is that I will begin working at a place that will pay for school beyond the 2-year RN or work somewhere that will pay back any loans after I complete the MSN. The VA or hospitals that are associated with universities are good for this kind of thing. And the PhD might also be in my future if I can get someone else to pay for it :)

    Keep pushing! I will be too!

    1. Hi Pam. Thanks for commenting. It's going to be a long road but we've got a plan and playfully, with a lot of dedication and commitment we'll make it there. It's really encouraging to see other adults also in my situation. Thanks again for sharing.



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