Different Nursing Degrees?

I am having trouble understanding the difference in the following degrees

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

Do I have to get a particular one to become a Registered Nurse? Do I need them all? If I have a certain one, will my pay be higher?


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  1. chebrew2000 says:

    Get the BSN. It’s a 4 year degree that will get you the most money over time. The others will have to go back to college to get their BSN eventually if they want to make the big bucks. All will be able to get a job though. Nurses (regardless of the degree) are in short supply.

  2. LPN/LVN – usually not a “Degree” program but usually diploma or certificate program. 12-18 months in length. Teaches you some basic nursing skills including CNA functions like activities of daily living and taking vital signs, but also more professional nursing skills like performing wound care, administering medications, documentation, limited assessments, providing education.

    ADN – a 2 year program (not counting time spent on pre-requisties), at the end of which you are eligible to take the NCLEX exam for RN licensure. This is the minimum education level required for RN licensure. Teaches the fundementals of nursing practice, including all the things the CNAs and LPNs do, but more in depth knowledge of anatomy & physiology, disease pathology, comprehensive assessments, utilizing the nursing process, creating care plans, performing more complex nursing cares like IV push meds, cardiac monitoring, tracheostomy cares, etc., coordinating care between multiple disciplines, providing a deeper level of education to the client and their families. It requires a higher level of critical thinking than LPN work. There are also more legal standards for practice and documentation.

    BSN – same as ADN with an expansion on your liberal arts / general education requirements, and the extra nursing courses focus more on theory, models of care, leadership aspects, professional topics like research and education. Essentially it gives you a more well rounded education as a professional. It’s a full 4 year undergraduate degree. You are eligible to take the NCLEX exam for licensure at the end.

    You can also go one step at a time if you wanted, some people become an LPN first, then there are LPN to RN (ADN) which are about 12-18 months, or ADN RN to BSN programs which are about 18-24 months.

    LPNs make roughly $16-25 per hour. RNs with ADN make about $25-35 per hour doing regular patient care, whereas the BSNs working in the same job as the ADN RN doing patient care might only make about $1 more per hour. BSNs make more money after a few years of experience, when they are more eligible for jobs in supervision / administration / management.

    If you ever want to go on to become a Nurse Practitioner or something like that, you need the BSN first, because you can then go on to a graduate nursing program at the Master’s level (2-3 years beyond BSN), or, after 2015 it changes and NPs will need a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (2-3 years beyond MSN).

  3. lk