Associate Degree Nurses Perceptions on Motivators and Barriers to Return to School for a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing

Nursing is a dynamic and evolving profession that requires lifelong learning and professional development. However, many nurses who hold an associate degree (ADN) face challenges and obstacles to pursue higher education and obtain a bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN). This blog post will explore the perceptions of ADN nurses on the motivators and barriers to return to school for a BSN, based on recent research and literature.

Motivators for ADN Nurses to Pursue a BSN

According to a study by Altmann (2012), the main motivators for ADN nurses to pursue a BSN were personal and professional growth, career advancement, and employer preference or requirement. Personal and professional growth included the desire to increase knowledge and skills, enhance critical thinking and leadership abilities, and improve patient outcomes and quality of care. Career advancement involved the aspiration to pursue higher positions, such as nurse manager, educator, or advanced practice nurse. Employer preference or requirement referred to the influence of organizational policies or incentives that encouraged or mandated ADN nurses to obtain a BSN.

Another study by Megginson (2014) found that ADN nurses who pursued a BSN were motivated by intrinsic factors, such as self-fulfillment, curiosity, and passion for learning, as well as extrinsic factors, such as recognition, respect, and salary increase. Intrinsic factors were more influential than extrinsic factors in the decision to return to school. Moreover, ADN nurses who pursued a BSN reported positive outcomes, such as increased confidence, competence, and satisfaction.

Barriers for ADN Nurses to Pursue a BSN

However, not all ADN nurses are motivated or able to pursue a BSN. Some of the common barriers that prevent or hinder ADN nurses from returning to school are financial constraints, time constraints, family responsibilities, work commitments, lack of support, and academic challenges. Financial constraints include the cost of tuition, fees, books, and transportation, as well as the loss of income due to reduced work hours. Time constraints involve the difficulty of balancing multiple roles and responsibilities, such as work, school, family, and personal life. Family responsibilities include the care of children, spouses, parents, or other relatives who depend on the nurse. Work commitments include the demands of the job, such as long hours, shift work, overtime, and stress. Lack of support refers to the absence or inadequacy of encouragement or assistance from family members, employers, colleagues, or educators. Academic challenges include the gap between previous and current education, the adaptation to new technologies and learning methods, and the preparation for exams and assignments.

Strategies to Overcome Barriers

Despite these barriers, some ADN nurses are able to overcome them and successfully complete a BSN program. Some of the strategies that can help ADN nurses overcome these barriers are:

– Seeking financial aid or scholarships from various sources, such as government agencies, professional organizations, employers, or educational institutions.
– Managing time effectively by setting priorities, creating schedules, delegating tasks, and avoiding procrastination.
– Seeking support from family members, friends, mentors, counselors, or peers who can provide emotional, practical, or academic assistance.
– Communicating with employers about the benefits of pursuing a BSN and negotiating flexible work arrangements that can accommodate school schedules.
– Choosing a BSN program that suits the needs and preferences of the individual nurse, such as online or hybrid programs that offer convenience and flexibility.
– Utilizing available resources and services from the educational institution or community that can facilitate learning and academic success.


In conclusion, pursuing a BSN is a worthwhile endeavor for ADN nurses who want to advance their personal and professional growth. However, there are many motivators and barriers that influence the decision and ability of ADN nurses to return to school for a BSN. By understanding these factors and applying effective strategies to overcome them,
ADN nurses can achieve their educational goals and enhance their nursing practice.

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