Associate of Science (AS): Nursing Degree Overview

Associate of Science (AS) degree programs in nursing include both classroom and clinical experiences that teach students how to perform patient assessments and basic healthcare duties.

Essential Information

In addition to core nursing topics, students in a nursing associate's program learn about emergency care procedures and the legal requirements for medical personnel. These programs typically take two years to complete. Graduates must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed as registered nurses.

A high school or GED degree is required for enrollment, and some schools expected a minimum GPA. Students may need to have completed high school coursework in math, English, biology, chemistry and math. Applicants also undergo a background check, and some programs require them to submit proof of immunizations.

Associate of Science in Nursing

Courses in a nursing program can give students a basic understanding of patients' health needs and care requirements. Classroom work is typically combined with clinical practice, which provides students with hands-on experience in using medical equipment and performing patient-care tasks. In addition to nursing fundamentals, other main topics touched upon in a program include:

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Psychology introduction
  • Nursing pharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

After graduating from an associate's degree program in nursing, students can sit for the NCLEX-RN to become a registered nurse. All states require RNs to pass this exam, but some may have additional requirements. Through their work settings and experience, RNs can specialize in several areas, such as surgery, pediatrics and mental health.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that job opportunities for RNs were expected to increase by 16% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average. RNs earned a median annual average salary of $67,490 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education

No matter what area of health care a graduate works in, a registered nurse must typically complete continuing education to maintain licensure and stay current in advancements within the field. Associate's degree holders may transfer their credits into bachelor's degree programs in nursing to gain a wider knowledge of the field. Master's degree programs are also available and could help nurses advance into positions of administration or gain specialties in areas like family or adult practice.

An AS in Nursing program prepares students to gain professional licensure and begin working as RNs. Graduates may also choose to further their education in a bachelor's program.

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