Specifics of Nursing: Associate Degree v. Baccalaureate

General differences between the Associate Degree/Diploma nurse and the Baccalaureate prepared nurse about the nurse as a Member of the Health Care Team/Coordinator of Care

Though one might think that every member of the staff providing nursing services performs the same work, i.e., taking care of the people with health issues, there is much more variety in the nursing field. For example, as a Health Care Team member/Coordinator of Care, the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse performs a set of functions that are different from the ones of a Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse. According to what Differentiated essential competencies say, the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse as a provider of Patient-Centered Care is supposed to:

  • Base the decisions on clinical reasoning and evidence-based policies;
  • Help define the emerging issues in the patient’s mental health;
  • Provide precise data for further treatment of the patient;
  • Offer efficient nursing services to the patients;
  • Consider legal, ethical, and regulatory issues when putting the health care plan to practice;
  • Locate and define the changes in patients’ health state;
  • Follow the developed teaching plans;
  • Help coordinate the existing resources (McKeon, Norris, Cardell & Britt, 2009).

Compared to the duties of the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse, the ones of a Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse are somewhat broader – in addition to the above-mentioned issues, a Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse also:

  • Considers ethical aspects, social background, etc.;
  • Derives data from the nursing program of a baccalaureate degree.

Considering the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse more competent than the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse would be too rough a generalization; rather, the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse’s area of responsibilities is narrower.

General differences between the Associate Degree/Diploma nurse and the Baccalaureate prepared nurse about the nurse as a Member of the Profession

However, the differences between the job of the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse and the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse are not restricted to the practical application of skills; apart from the approach towards the patients, the two professions differ concerning understanding the idea of a nurse as a Member of Profession. As far as the instructions in the Differentiated essential competencies go, both the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse and the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse as a Member of Profession:

  • Follow the established policies and procedures, acting within the allowed scope of practice;
  • Display a high level of responsibility and competence in nursing practice, while adopting the principles of lifelong learning and developing self-analysis, self-reflection, and self-care.

However, it is important to mention that, unlike the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse, the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse:

  • Does not participate in activities promoting professional nursing practice – instead, the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse promotes these practices;
  • Provides nursing care not only to specific patients but also to entire families.

The given differences show that, as a Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse, I will be able to design interventions for families, therefore, influencing the social background of the patients and, thus, contributing to better and faster treatment.

General differences between the Associate Degree/Diploma nurse and the Baccalaureate prepared nurse about the Patient-Centered Care standards

Finally, speaking of the differences between the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse and the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse as per the standards of the Patient-Centered Care standards, one must mention that the competencies of the Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse stretch not as far as the ones of the Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse:

Baccalaureate Prepared Nurse

  • Using the Baccalaureate degree clinical reasoning;
  • Defining physical/mental health status;
  • Obtaining and analyzing evaluation data;
  • Providing highly efficient nursing care;
  • Following the designed nursing care plan;
  • Evaluating the results and providing a report on them;
  • Creating nursing care teaching plans.

Associate Degree/Diploma Nurse

  • Communicate with the patients;
  • Monitor the health care process;
  • Refer the patients to trustworthy resources;
  • Communicating with the health care members to promote knowledge sharing;
  • Manage the information concerning the patients;
  • Supervise the patients’ progress and report on the changes (Smith, 2012).

Reference List

Differentiated essential competencies (n. d.). Austin, TX: Texas Board of Nursing.

McKeon, L., Norris, T., Cardell, B. & Britt, T. (2009). Developing patient-centered care competencies among prelicensure nursing students using simulation. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(12), 711–715.

Smith, E. L. (2012). Current assessment of quality and safety competencies in registered professional nurses: An examination of nurse leader perceptions. New York City, NY: Columbia University Press.

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