As a nursing student, you’ll typically start by taking courses in science and liberal arts, the most difficult of which likely will be anatomy and physiology, nutrition, biology, and math. Some BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) students also struggle with chemistry. Most programs require you to achieve a C+ or higher in your science courses in order to move into the nursing curriculum.
Following those pre-requisites, you’ll start the nursing courses. Your first nursing courses will depend on the school curriculum, but generally include pharmacology, health assessment and foundations of nursing. Knowing how to perform appropriate health assessments, calculating medication dosages, and learning the terminology and skills necessary for providing quality care are critical areas. Three of nursing’s most important courses, they provide the foundation needed to advance through the program.
Challenging studies that follow include two medical/surgical courses that are at the heart of nursing. Nearly 85% of NCLEX® questions encompass content taught in these courses. You also may take classes in community nursing concepts, leadership and management, and possibly mental health nursing, before the capstone course nearly all curricula offer during a program’s final term. Capstone courses typically have a practice focus, with students often participating in sessions focused primarily on reviewing medical/surgical concepts and NCLEX® exam preparation.
With the exception of leadership and management, most nursing courses include a clinical practicum, which will vary in hours depending on the number of course credits. Most schools have simulation mannequins designed to help students gain competence and practice managing a variety of medical/surgical, maternity, and pediatric clinical situations. Typically, clinical experiences occur in acute care settings for registered nurse student, while practical nurses may receive much of their training in long-term care facilities, home health and/or in subacute units.
Bottom line – it’s critical to excel in your prerequisite courses because they often determine whether you’ll be admitted into a nursing program. Following that, it’s important to build an adequate foundation in pharmacology, foundations of nursing, and medical/surgical nursing because most of a nurse’s job relies on skills learned in those courses.
Visit www.fortis.edu to learn more about the nursing career path that’s right for you.
Dr. Anders has been a faculty member and education administrator in associate, bachelor, master and doctoral nursing programs.