Do Associate Degree Registered Nurses Fare Differently in the Nurse Labor Market Compared to Baccalaureate-Prepared RNs?

Source: David I. Auerbach, Peter I. Buerhaus, Douglas O. Staiger, Nursing Economics, Vol. 33 no. 1, January/February 2015

• Roughly 40% of the nearly 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States have an associate’s degree (ADN) as their highest level of nursing education.
• Yet even before the recent Institute of Medicine report on The Future of Nursing, employers of RNs have increasingly preferred baccalaureate-prepared RNs (BSNs), at least anecdotally.
• Data from the American Community Survey (2003-2013) were analyzed with respect to employment setting, earnings, and employment outcomes of ADN and BSN-prepared RNs.
• The data reveal a divergence in employment setting: the percentage of ADN-prepared RNs employed in hospitals dropped from 65% to 60% while the percentage of BSN-prepared RNs employed in hospitals grew from 67% to 72% over this period.
• Many ADNs who would have otherwise been employed in hospitals seem to have shifted to long-term care settings.