Classes Needed to Become a Nurse

Nursing students meet patients in their clinical rotations.
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Becoming a registered nurse requires dedication to the educational experience. If you go into nursing, you'll soon find that programs leading to the associate degree in nursing, or ADN, usually require two years of classes. If you go for a bachelor's degree, or BSN, you'll be in school for four years. However, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for registered nurses is expected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2020.

Liberal Arts Classes

    Although both bachelor degree and associate degree nursing programs require some liberal arts classes, more are needed for a bachelor's degree. Both ADN and BSN programs usually require two semesters of English composition. Examples of other liberal arts classes you might take include basic sociology and psychology classes and college-level math. Some BSN programs will also put you through higher-level math classes such as statistics, and most will require a certain number of liberal arts electives; the amount of credits varies from school to school.

Basic Science Classes

    All nursing programs require basic science classes that provide the theoretical basis a nursing student needs to understand disease processes. The most common requirements are chemistry, microbiology, anatomy and physiology and human development. Most of these classes require participation in a separate lab, as well as attendance at the lecture-based classes. The lab provides hands-on experience with the subject matter and sometimes additional tutoring or individual attention not available to students in the larger lecture sessions.

Theoretical Nursing Classes

    Theoretical nursing classes are the nuts and bolts of all nursing programs, where students learn the majority of the theoretical basis for this profession. They may be numbered based on when you encounter them. For example, Nursing One is the class students take in the first semester. Theoretical nursing classes cover both the science of specific disease processes and teach the relevant nursing interventions. These classes usually include a lab component, as well.

Clinical Classes

    In clinical classes, nursing students apply the information and skills they learned in the theoretical nursing classes. These classes take place not in a classroom but within a nursing practice site such as a hospital, nursing home, outpatient clinic or community health facility. Usually, students receive information about the patient they will be taking care of the day before their clinical class so they have a chance to research the specific care and nursing interventions the patient will need.

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