A Comparison of Competencies, Baccalaureate Versus Associate Degree Level Nursing

A Comparison of Competencies, Baccalaureate Versus Associate Degree Level Nursing

Grand Canyon University NUR 430

A Comparison of Competencies, Baccalaureate Versus Associate Degree Level Nursing

There are many opinions revolving around the quality of nurses that are educated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree compared to those educated with an Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN). At most hospitals either level of education is considered adequate for an entry-level nursing role. In my experience, I have not noticed a difference between the care that is provided at the BSN level versus the ADN level. However, through my recent research I have found numerous studies that show increasing the number of baccalaureate-degree level nurses at a facility has multiple patient related benefits including but not limited to greatly reducing mortality rates as the most compelling of the research findings. A nurse with an associates degree is minimally educated in order to pass the required examination for state licensure but a nurse with a higher level of degree has a greater understanding of nursing history and theory and has been proven to decrease mortality rates and is therefore more prepared to care for complex patients with a holistic approach to recovery such as a patient in an intensive care unit.

In order to give the best patient care possible it is important for a nurse to be aware of the all the patient needs for recovery not just the medications and tasks required by the physician’s orders since every human has intrinsic physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. Baccalaureate-degree level nurses are educated to be aware of these needs in an in-depth manner compared to an associate-degree level nurse. Much time is spent on nursing history and theory in a baccalaureate programs such as studying the founder of nursing, Florence Nightingale. The book Conceptual Foundations The Bridge to Professional Nursing Practice quotes Nightingale “Nursing ‘ought to signify the proper use of fresh air, light, warmth, cleanliness, quiet, and the proper selection and administration of diet.” (Creasia, Friberg, RN, & Joan L. Creasia PhD RN, 2011, p. 101). This is one of many Nightingale quotes that emphasizes the patients needs from a holistic point of view by focusing on all aspects of care. Grand Canyon University offers a BSN program in which the “Curriculum is designed to facilitate the students’ abilities to creatively respond to continuously changing health care systems throughout the world” (“Grand Canyon University College of Nursing and Health Care Profession Philosophy,” 2016). A nurse that is able to complete their tasks ordered by the physician and has been trained to recognize other patients needs in order to respond creatively will be the most beneficial to the patient and is often the nurse educated at the baccalaureate-degree level.

According to a fact sheet released by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “Research has shown that lower mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and positive outcomes are all linked to nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels” (Rosseter, 2015). Based on the studies that prove these findings it is not surprising that hospitals across the nation are moving towards a BSN degree as the minimum requirement for an entry-level nursing position. Having BSN nurses caring for patients would theoretically improve patient outcomes and therefore immensely decrease facility costs hence a better choice when hiring new nurses for the health care facility. In one study listed on the AACN fact sheet researchers showed that “every 10% increase in the proportion of BSN nurses on the hospital staff was associated with a 4% decrease in the risk of death” (Rosseter, 2015). What would happen if the BSN proportion was increased by 20% or 30%? Hiring BSN prepared nurses could potentially decrease mortality rates of patients, after all that is what nursing is all about, the patients.

One patient care situation in which nursing care and approaches to decision making may differ based upon the level of education preparation is when caring for a patient in an intensive care unit (ICU). This patient type tends to be complex in nature with a long road to recovery and would benefit the most from a holistic approach to nursing. It is common for many ICUs to have environment regulations such as strict visiting hours, lights dim at night, and collaborative care coordination to reduce over stimulation of the patients. It is the nurse that recognizes the importance of a healing environment as well as the emotional and spiritual needs of their patients that promotes the most healing. Although many ADN nurses will learn the importance of holistic nursing on the job through experiences and colleagues, the entry-level bachelorette degree nurse already has these skills and knowledge which would be reflected in the positive outcomes of patients under their care.

In the last decade, researchers have shown through numerous studies that increasing the number of bachelorette degree-level nurses in a facility directly correlates to a decrease in mortality rates. Bachelorette degree nurses are more prepared to give quality nursing care by utilizing a holistic approach that recognizes the patients physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual needs. The patients that benefit the most from holistic approaches are those with complex care progressions such as patients in intensive care. Based on the research that proves BSN nurses are better care providers than ADN nurses in that they have more positive patient outcomes, healthcare providers will logically be more likely to have a preference to hire them now and in the future.


Creasia, J. L., Friberg, E. E., RN, E. S. P., & Joan L. Creasia PhD RN (2011). Conceptual

foundations: The bridge to professional nursing practice (5th ed.). United States: Elsevier Health Sciences.

Grand Canyon University College of Nursing and Health Care Profession Philosophy. (2016).

Rosseter, R. (2015, March 19). Fact Sheet: Creating a More Highly Qualified Nursing

Workforce. Retrieved December 31, 2016, from American Association of Colleges of Nursing, http://www.aacn.nche.edu/media-relations/NursingWorkforce.pdf