I’m often asked, “If I enroll in a nursing program, what courses am I expected to take?” While programs can vary from school to school, most nursing curriculums are similar.
For example, the practical nurse curriculum typically is 12 months and includes a variety of courses students must master to pass the licensing exam. They include anatomy and physiology, fundamentals of nutrition, human growth and development, foundations of nursing, medical surgical nursing and a variety of specialty courses. Specialty courses can encompass maternal child health, psychiatric nursing and such cutting-edge courses as gerontology, informatics, community health, and leadership.
Associate degree and baccalaureate science programs have similar content. Student learning outcomes, however, will be higher to reflect the scope of practice expected of registered nurses, while BSN programs usually require added coursework in community health, research or evidence-based practice, and leadership and management. Degree-seeking nursing students also must take college core courses as well as in those in the major, including humanities, social sciences, math, and other sciences.
It’s important to review the college catalog and determine the number of required credits for the degree which you are seeking. The rule of thumb is that curriculums with a higher number of credits will take longer to complete and are more costly.
Today, some state legislatures have mandated that public colleges reduce the number of required credits as a cost-saving measure. If you’re considering a public nursing school, keep in mind that you may be taking a narrowed curriculum that focuses on essential content. In other words, you could miss out on the “extras” that sometimes come into play when providing care.
It’s a lot to think about. If you need a resource to help explore your options, you can start by visiting www.fortis.edu.
Dr. Anders is a Fellow of the Academy of Nursing Education and elected to the American Academy of Nursing.