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01.01 Diploma vs ADN vs BSN vs Bridge

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The diploma, ADN, BSN, and bridge programs are designed to prepare Registered Nurses with different degree options. From a certificate to a bachelor’s in nursing, graduates are eligible to sit for their NCLEX. After successfully passing their state boards, the new graduate will become a Registered Nurse no matter if they attended a diploma, ADN, BSN or bridge program.

Nursing Points



  1. Diploma Programs

    1. Oldest nursing programs
    2. 2-3 years long
    3. More clinical time compared to classroom
    4. Diploma certificate upon graduation
  2. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs
    1. Pre-requisites before applying
    2. 2 years of nursing curriculum
      1. Lecture and Clinical
    3. About 2.5-3 years to complete
    4. Associates of Applied Science degree upon graduation
  3. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Programs
    1. Longer pre-requisite requirements before applying
      1. About 2 years to complete pre-requisites
    2. 2 Years of nursing curriculum
      1. Lecture and clinical
    3. About 4 years to complete
    4. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree upon graduation
  4. Bridge Programs
    1. Designed for current LVN/LPN that want to become RNs
    2. Designed for current RN’s that are pursuing a bachelor’s degree
    3. Shorter faster-paced programs that transition an LVN/LPN to an RN or an ADN RN to a BSN RN
    4. Usually online and maybe self-paced


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Video Transcript

Hey guys, I’m going to give a quick presentation regarding the different types of nursing programs that are available to you. So first and foremost, you have decided that you want to become a registered nurse and that is so great. So congratulations. Now you need to decide which type of program you want to apply to. So there’s a diploma associate degree, also called ADN, a bachelor’s of science in nursing, which is also called BSN and bridge programs. So no matter which program you go to, these programs will prepare you to be able, as long as you graduate, prepare you for your NCLEX and as long as you pass, you will become a registered nurse. Really, it all depends on which type of college degree that you want to have from a certificate to a bachelor’s. Either way, you can sit for your boards and become an RN.

So now let’s just break it down so that you can decide which one you want to apply to. So let’s talk about the diploma programs first. These are actually the oldest type of nursing programs. This is actually how nursing programs began way back in the day, like Florence Nightingale type of days. So basically they are about two to three years in length. There is more clinical than classroom. So in these kinds of programs, basically the nurses were hospital ready because of how much clinical time they would have. They would have less classroom time and more clinical and when they would graduate they were ready to be on the floor and start working as soon as they pass boards. They are able to do this quicker and start working as nurses because they didn’t have to take other classes and very few prerequisites they do not graduate with an associate’s degree. These nurses graduate with a diploma certificate, so they don’t really get an associate’s. They don’t get a bachelor’s, they get a diploma. But again, they’re still able to sit for their NCLEX and take boards and become nurses. Now, there are not as many diploma programs as there used to be, but you can still find a few. Now let’s talk about associate degree in nursing, also called ADN. These are actually the most common ones because they don’t take as long. So usually they’re offered at some type of junior college and with these kinds of programs you need prerequisites before you can apply. That is usually English I and English II, and of course, I’m sure most of yall by now have heard or know about A& P, so you would have to take A & P one and two, may also need micro, human growth and development and maybe chemistry.

It really just depends on the college and their prerequisites. Most prerequisites will take about one to two semesters to complete. So probably about a year after you complete your prerequisites, you can apply and go to the actual nursing program. That takes about two years to complete. And it’s a combination of classroom and clinical. And if you’re wondering, yes, it includes 12-hour shifts usually at the hospital, we have to start preparing you to be nurses! So yes, 12-hour shifts of clinicals. So because it takes about one to two semesters or one year to complete your prerequisites and the nursing program is two years long. It takes about two and a half to three years to complete. And when you graduate you graduate with an associate’s degree of science in nursing.

Me personally, when I got my ADN, it was associates of applied science so it just depends, but it is an associate’s degree in nursing. And then of course when you graduate you’re able to sit for your NCLEX and take boards and if you pass then you are an RN. Now, of course, there’s a bachelor of science in nursing and this is BSN. This is actually where more people are going to to this specialty as their first career choice. This is a four-year degree and depending on the university, their prerequisites are longer. So on top of your English one and two, A&P one and two, you’re going to have the chemistry, micro, you’re going to have government, you’re going to have history. You have a few more Englishes like English literature, stats, college algebra. But stats is a pretty intense course.

Anything that the university requires to be core complete and a prerequisite. That’s the prerequisites you must take before you can apply to the nursing program. Again, because it is is a university, the prerequisites take longer. So usually they take about two years to complete and once you’ve done the majority of your prerequisites, you can apply for the nursing program. Once you get in. That takes another two years. And again, it’s a combination of classroom and clinical and yes, it is also 12-hour shifts. So because of the prerequisites and the nursing program, a BSN takes about four years to complete. But when you graduate, you graduate with your bachelor’s of science in nursing. Again, this is more desirable now. It gives you more options, more hospitals are going towards hiring BSN prepared nurses versus ADN. It just takes a little longer to get.

And now let’s talk about bridge programs. Usually, with a bridge program, you have to have some type of foundation already. Bridge programs are predominantly designed for LVNS who want to become RNs or an RN who has an associate’s degree and wants to have a bachelor’s degree. So usually in order to do this, you would have to take your prerequisites to obtain your RN and then you will apply. And if you went to the bridge program, it is usually about a year-long because you’ve already done a year here, same with the RN that wants to become a BSN. They’ve already done their prerequisites for an associate’s degree. Well, now they gotta take their prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree and get into the BSN bridge program, which also takes about another year. The good thing about these programs is they are shorter and they are faster-paced programs.

And because you have some type of foundation already in nursing, you typically have to do less semesters. Most ADN to BSN programs are online now and they are self-paced and you have more flexibility. So, for example, if one semester you only want to do two classes and be part-time and the next semester you decide, no, I can handle more, let me take three to four classes, you can do that. And the fact that they are online makes it very flexible. So if you’re already an ADN nurse, you can continue to work full time while you get your bachelor’s. There’s also another bridge program, which is a paramedic to RN. So it’s becoming more common to have these bridge programs. But again, you have to usually have some type of foundation in health care and it usually is either an LVN or an LPN or an ADN RN.

And so the key points and the most important thing you got to be able to understand from this, whether you go to a diploma school, an ADN or a BSN program, you are able to sit for an NCLEX and as long as you pass, you are a registered nurse. It just depends on what kind of college degree you want. Do you want just a diploma? Do you want an associate or do you want a bachelor’s? That’s really all it is because no matter which one you go to, you are a registered nurse and you will be an amazing registered nurse. So I hope that this kind of helps you break it down as to which program is more suitable for you and best fits your lifestyle, how long you want to go to school for, and knowing the prerequisites required and which one you would like to apply to. And so again, I hope that this has helped you make your decision a little easier. And I hope that you get out there real quick so you can apply and start nursing school and you can listen to all of our other lessons that will help you along the way because you guys are all going to be awesome nurses now. Make sure that you guys go out and be your best selves today. And as always, happy nursing.