Are you a nurse with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing? Are you feeling pressure to earn a BSN? Are there more and more doors closed to you without that Bachelor’s degree? This episode is all about this very issue that’s so salient for us 21st-century nurses.


(NOTE: please scroll to the bottom of the post to listen to the podcast!)

Most of you have already heard about the Institute of Medicine’s landmark paper that was published in 2010. The IOM made a strong recommendation that rocked the nursing world, stating that 80% of nurses be Bachelor’s-prepared by 2020.

Meanwhile, the National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice (NACNEP) has also made numerous recommendation to Congress about the need for nurses with a BSN or higher, and this 2010 report will give you an inkling of their strong opinion of the matter.

In this episode, I discuss how awesome ADNs and diploma nurses can be, and how many of them are feeling the squeeze to pursue a BSN, even if they don’t want to. If you’re an ADN or diploma nurse who can remain satisfactorily employed without a BSN, good for you; however, some of you may find that many previously open doors are being summarily closed in your face. I know many ADNs and diploma nurses who can run rings around other clinicians, but the fact is that remaining marketable in the 21st-century healthcare milieu may very well force you to go back to school and get that BSN, like it or not.

If you’re in the position of going back to nursing school, many factors may make it challenging to do so, including finances, the raising of children, caring for ageing parents, and the availability of a program that’s right for you. Luckily, online RN-BSN programs (as well as RN-MSN, etc) are widely available, so consider the relative convenience of an online educational experience.

Meanwhile, if your employer is offering to pay for your education, there’s truly no reason to not go for it; in my opinion, that’s leaving money on the proverbial table, folks!

Those of you who listen to this episode will have varying opinions about this issue, and I don’t blame you at all. Much of the data shows that nurses with BSNs don’t necessarily earn much more than nurses with ADNs (if there’s any difference at all!), but the reality is that ADNs just have fewer employment options open to them, and that gap will only continue to narrow in the years to come.

If you have an opinion about this or an experience to share, please email me at, or leave a voicemail right from this website; I’d love to know what’s up for you!

Again, this episode of The Nurse Keith Show is sponsored by, where I serve as resident career expert.

The Nurse Keith Show is adroitly edited and produced by James Larson of Prowess Production and Management, and social media and promotion are expertly handled by Mark Capispisan.

Please consider leaving a review of The Nurse Keith Show over on iTunes; this helps more nurses and healthcare professionals find the show and benefit from the information being shared. Just visit iTunes, click on the iTunes store, search for The Nurse Keith Show under podcasts, and leave a review, and voila. Thanks!

Be well, dig deep, and keep in touch!


Nurse Keith photoKeith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC, is the Board Certified Nurse Coach behind and the well-known blog, Digital Doorway.

Keith is co-host of, a wildly popular nursing podcast; he also hosts The Nurse Keith Show, his own podcast focused on career advice and inspiration for nurses. Keith is also the resident nursing career expert at

A widely published nurse writer, Keith is the author of “Savvy Networking For Nurses: Getting Connected and Staying Connected in the 21st Century.” He has also contributed chapters to a number of books related to the nursing profession, and currently writes for MultiViews New Service,, StaffGarden, and Working Nurse Magazine.

Mr. Carlson brings a plethora of experience as a nurse thought leader, online nurse personality, holistic career coach, writer, and well-known successful nurse entrepreneur. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his lovely and talented wife, Mary Rives.

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