Myths about ADN Programs and Graduates

Watch out my lovely readers. I have spunk today, and I think I know where I got it from. I’m rockin’ a bold new haircut, and it’s rubbing off on my writing. So prepare yourself for spunk. Lots. Of. It.


There are a lot of people out there that don’t understand the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that to pursue an associate degree after receiving a bachelor’s degree is moving backwards. Let me tell you this:  I am moving forward, I am pursuing more, I learn new things every day, and this path is the right one for me. So please listen more and judge less.

Nursing programs are not like a lot of other programs, so I can understand why the whole thing is confusing to people. There are so many routes to becoming an RN, and it’s nearly impossible to know all of them. You can go straight for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Sweet! Or how about becoming an LPN first and then becoming an RN? That sounds good, right? Sure! Paramedic to RN? Right on. Teacher to ADN to RN? You rock, too!

Well, my choices eventually led me to the ADN route, and I am here to dispel some of the myths about that particular path. There are a few of them, and they are obviously misguided!

Myth #1. “So, you only have to go to school for two years, right?” Have you noticed that I don’t call ADN programs two year programs? Well, that is because ADN programs take longer than two years to complete. Say what? Yep, you heard me right. ADN programs require pre-requisites to get into the nursing specific courses. And they aren’t easy either.

The college I attend required seven communication credits, microbiology, anatomy and physiology 1 and 2, developmental psychology, medical terminology. and biomedical ethics. That’ll take you at least a year.

Also, students that attend a university (BSN program) are not spending all four years learning about nursing, so to think that they have two more years of nursing knowledge is nonsense. They take general education courses just like all of the other students attending a university. Most of those courses have little to do with nursing. I am still trying to figure out how Latin American History would have worked into a career as a dietitian.

And since nursing school is highly competitive these days, many students (including me) have previous degrees and have taken insane amounts of science courses such as genetics, organic chemistry, biology, biochemistry, pathology, and many other nightmare-ish sciences.

So do ADN graduates go to school for only two years? Ha! That’s comical.

Myth #2. “It must not be an RN program if you will be done in two years.” First of all, do I need to remind you about myth number one? It’ll take more than two years. I guarantee it.

Second of all, ADN graduates and BSN graduates sit for the exact same boards. It is the exact same hideous, straight from the pit of hell, yucky, puke-y test. I even heard that the ADN NCLEX test has the same amount of select all that apply questions. Pure evilness.

Back to my point though. If the BSN graduate passes the NCLEX exam, he or she will be an RN. And if I pass, I will be an RN.

Myth #3. “ADN graduates are not prepared to be RNs.” Let’s be honest. Is anyone fully prepared to take on the complexities of human life right after taking the NCLEX? Because that is exactly what RNs do. They have to know, through head knowledge or instinct, when something is not right and then act on it. New ADN and BSN graduates may have SOME head knowledge (but we are always learning, right?) and a itsy-bitsy-teeny-tiny amount of nursing instinct.

It is pretty unrealistic to expect an educational institution to teach you absolutely everything you need to know before you graduate. However, I DO believe that my ADN program is giving me the tools to someday be a competent nurse, and I am very grateful for that! I will have over 500 hours of direct patient-care experience by the time I graduate in May. I will know the basics, and I will know where to find answers if I have questions.

So wherever you are right now, whether it’s in a BSN program, an ADN program, an MSN program, waiting on your acceptance letter, or WHEREVER else, don’t judge another’s path. Try to understand it, but don’t judge. Be where you are and keep learning.



6 thoughts on “Myths about ADN Programs and Graduates

  1. “ADN graduates are not prepared to be RNs”. To put things in perspective. I graduated from an ‘ADN’ program. I graduated with a diploma from nursing school (not even an ADN). It was a hospital based program.
    And now I’m an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner….

  2. This is a great post. I’m also preparing for my last semester of nursing school in an ADN program. My ADN program has a 99% NCLEX pass rate of 55+ students each semester, much higher than the surrounding ADN and BSN programs in the area. Many prospective students dismiss ADN programs because they aren’t Bachelor’s programs, but I feel like as if an ADN contains the bulk and necessary components of becoming an RN. And what theses prospective students don’t know is that we easily get accepted into BSN programs and that it generally only takes another year to get the BSN after finishing the ADN 🙂

    • Great to hear from you! I agree 100%. ADN graduates are as ready to take care of patients as BSN grads (we actually tend to have more clinical hours under out belts). Another plus is that we often don’t have as much student loan debt. Which is awesome in my book.

      Take care, and good luck this semester!

  3. I couldn’t afford to spend the time and money to get a BSN right away. An associate’s degree is a great way to start earning money sooner,and with luck, my future employer will pay for my BSN! Great post; many good points!

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