Jennifer L.W. Fink, RN, BSN is a professional freelance writer with almost a decade of experience as a Registered Nurse. She's worked in both hospitals and nursing homes as a med-surg, geriatric and transplant nurse. Her national publication credits include Parents, RN, Ladies' Home Journal, Nursing Spectrum, Pregnancy and Journal of Christian Nursing.
Nursing is a diverse profession that requires a well-rounded education. You'll be steeped in the sciences - a thorough understanding of the human body is essential for a nurse - but you'll also study human behavior and interaction in classes such as psychology. You'll also need excellent communication skills, so English classes are a necessity. And don't forget computer skills and math! Because believe it or not, nurses actually use math on-the-job. (Drip rates, anyone?)
If nursing school sounds challenging, that's because it is. Expect to spend a whole lot of time studying!
Basic courses include Anatomy, Physiology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Psychology, Developmental Psychology and Microbiology. Depending on your school, you may also study the Sociology of the Family, Philosophy and/or Ethics. You'll also be required to take a couple composition courses and some basic math in your first years of nursing school. Later, you'll study Pathophysiology, the science of disease; Pharmacology, the science of medications; Nutrition, or how various nutrients affect the body and healing; and the Foundations of Nursing Practice, where you'll be introduced to nursing as a profession. You'll study Health Assessment as well; that's when you'll learn how to take blood pressures, assess lung sounds and detect signs of disease.
After you've completed the basics, you'll study the Nursing Care of Adults, Children and Childbearing Families. Each course will likely last a semester and include classroom and clinical sessions. You'll also take courses in Gerontology (the care of older adults) and Mental Health. Depending on your program, you may also take courses in Nursing Leadership, Nursing Research and Community Health. You might even be able to choose a clinical course in an area of your interest.
Reading over the list of required course, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. It's a lot of material to cover in a little time! But many nurses have done it before you, and you can too.