There is an ongoing debate about nurses trained at the Associates Degree level versus the baccalaureate degree level. In this paper, I will discuss some of the important differences between the two levels of education and try to determine if one is really better than the other.
First of all, when considering the difference between the two types of degrees, it is important to recognize that at either level, a nurse must be able to pass the same NCLEX examination in order to become licensed. Therefore, it is safe to say that a nurse from either type of program must have the basic knowledge required to safely take care of patients as an entry level ...view middle of the document...
The study proved that nurses who were educated at a higher level were able to prevent negative patient outcomes such as post operative complications or mortality.
The article states: “Our findings suggest that greater investments in improving the nurse practice environment, the adequacy of nurse staffing, and moving to a nurse work force in which a higher proportion of staff nurses have at least a baccalaureate-level education would result in substantially fewer adverse outcomes for patients” (Fiese). Another study from May 2008 issue of the Journal of Nursing Administration 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.” (Aiken) Although the study does not go into “why” the baccalaureate nurses had a lower mortality and complication rate, there are obvious differences in the two educational levels that may account for this. All nurses, no matter the training have their own sets of strengths and weaknesses.
So, why are nurses educated at the baccalaureate level more prepared? What are they learning that is not being taught at the Associates Degree level? Most of the courses that differ between the two degrees have to do with leadership, research and management in the nursing role. These do not necessarily transfer to the patient care aspect of the job. However, in my opinion, the major difference lies in the time spent learning in the classroom and clinical settings.
In the associates degree level of education, the courses and clinical times are compressed over less than 2 years time and the students are working at a much faster pace with the emphasis on being a “safe” nurse and being able to learn the basic knowledge required to pass the NCLEX. For students who are attending a baccalaureate program, the courses are spread over a longer period of time as well as the clinical hours. I know in...