Associate of Registered Nurse: Degree Overview
Research Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs. Get information about courses, licensing options, requirements and job prospects to make an informed decision about your education.
Associate Degree in Nursing
While Associate of Registered Nursing degrees are not available, an Associate Degree in Nursing program prepares students for careers in healthcare as registered nurses (RNs). An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program can be completed in about two years and allows students the opportunity to learn basic nursing skills while preparing for the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Students can enter these programs with or without having obtained prior nursing education or skills, such as experience as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). Some programs may allow LPNs to have advanced standing. ADN programs are typically available at technical schools and community colleges. Similar education programs may result in an Associate of Arts in Nursing or Associate of Applied Science in Nursing.
All program entrants must typically have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some programs also require some form of mathematics or humanities education prior to gaining access to the major courses offered within an ADN program. Other institutions require courses such as anatomy and physiology to be completed prior to taking the core courses of an associate degree program in nursing.
Registered nurse programs at the associate degree level include clinical experiences for students, in addition to traditional classroom education. Some general education classes like English composition are often required. Common course topics include:
- Health assessment
- Clinical nursing
- Pharmacology for nurses
- Nursing fundamentals
- Basic nutrition
- Acute, chronic and end of life care
- Trends and issues in the nursing field
- Health promotion
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The employment outlook is excellent for students considering careers in registered nursing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). With an aging population, which is expected to require healthcare in increasing numbers, the job opportunities for RNs are expected to grow much faster than the average career. The BLS projected a 26% growth rate for RNs from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). Technological advances and an increase in home healthcare services are also expected to have a role in this growth.
The BLS also noted that registered nurses earned a mean annual salary of $65,950 as of May 2011. Those earning a salary in the top tenth percentile earned $96,630 or more that year. The BLS reported that employers in California employed more registered nurses than anywhere else and paid them the most as well. In 2011, RNs working in California earned a mean annual salary of $90,860.
Licensing and Continuing Education Requirements
In addition to attaining an associate degree in nursing, to become fully licensed as RNs, graduates must also pass the NCLEX-RN, which is offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (www.ncsbn.org). States may need RNs to meet specific licensing requirements as well, including completing continuing education every few years to maintain licensure. For example, California requires that RNs complete at least 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain their license.
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