No healthcare facility is complete without nurses. It is a proven fact that there are more than 2.5 million registered nurses in the United States, and the sector is expected to grow by 26 percent till 2021. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has it that nursing employment will go up by 19 percent from 2012 to 2022.

There are various approaches to acquiring nursing education in the United States, and the most common way today is to earn an associate degree in nursing. An associate degree in Nursing provides opportunities to work in entry-level nursing positions, and the degree will also give the holder a solid career foundation in the field of health care.

Nursing associates administer medication, change bandages and take vital signs, perform and record clinical observations including blood pressure, temperature, respiration and pulse. They also undertake clinical tasks including cannulation, venipuncture, ECGs, accurately record nutritional and fluid intake among a host of other responsibilities.

Nursing Associates can deliver complex care to patients with complex care needs such as patients with a combination of multiple chronic conditions, mental health issues, medication-related problems, and social vulnerability.

The role of associate nurses was designed to bridge the gap between health care assistants (HCAs) and registered nurses. According to the Royal College of Nursing, associate nursing education is essential because it provides a route into nursing and a career ladder for the health care support workforce; it enhances the quality of hands-on care offered by the support workforce through defined and funded training and development, and strengthens the support available to nursing staff, releasing them to focus on care planning and management, advancing their practice and using their high level skills.

Is it possible to become a registered nurse with an associate degree?

An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is basically an introductory nursing degree. Until very recently, the ADN was the most popular degree held by resident nurses in the field, and many ADN graduates go on to become Registered Nurses.

It is very possible to become a registered nurse with an associate degree. How it works is that you would first enroll and acquire an associate degree in Nursing. After you have acquired the degree, you must then have to sit for your National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

The exam has test questions that ranges from 75-265 questions and it covers a lot of the information you will need to know to be a nurse. Specific test categories include Safe and Effective Care Environment, Health Promotion and Maintenance, Psycho-social Integrity and Physiological Integrity. If you pass the examination, then you would now be licensed to become a registered nurse.

Typically, an associate degree provides a quick, inexpensive path to qualifying for the NCLEX-RN exam and entering the nursing workforce.

One of main reason why people choose to go the associate route when seeking a career in nursing is that it takes just two years of coursework and clinical hours to become a practicing registered nurse. After you have gotten your license, you can start to work as a practicing nurse and gain essential work experience in the field.

Students who register for Associate Nurse Degree are taught crucial nursing skills like patient care, confidence and clinical decision making, and they are given a well-rounded perspective on nursing and healthcare.

Some prospective nurses also get an Associate Degree along the way to a bachelor’s degree, choosing to pursue their associate first either to get work experience or to save money. Associate programs tend to be more affordable than other nursing degrees, and by starting with an ADN, nursing students can save money on their education.

Also note that when you do decide to return to school for your Bachelor’s Degree, you can choose to earn your Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and Masters degree in Nursing concurrently. Both the BSN and MSN degrees can be earned in about 30 months, offering a candidate two valuable career credentials in less time and for less overall cost.

Conclusion

By 2021, 80 percent of hospital-employed nurses will be required to hold a BSN. This mandate was given by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, known as 80/20. Indeed, one of the goals of the mandate is to encourage new nurses to enter a BSN program no later than five years after they acquired their associate degree.

Whether or not you should get an Associate Degree in nursing depends entirely on your personal situation and preferences. There is no one size fits all nursing degree. You need to take a look at your schedule, financial situation and educational background before making a choice.

So while you can become a registered nurse with an associate degree, you would be required to update your knowledge later in life in order to continue moving up in your career.

Ajaero Tony Martins