Most students receive training in pharmacology throughout the process of earning a diploma or associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in nursing. While studying pharmacology and drug calculation, student nurses must complete clinical rotations and laboratory experiences. Nurse professionals must obtain licensing by passing state examinations that test their clinical skills and theoretical knowledge. Some courses and programs are available online.
A minimum of a high school diploma or the equivalent is necessary for admission to these programs.
Diploma in Practical Nursing
Licensed practical nurses provide one-on-one patient care under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians. Many students interested in beginning a career as a nurse enroll in a diploma program for practical nursing. In general, these programs last two years and provide a fundamental education in biological science and practical skills in tending to patients.
In addition to practical skills, monitoring vital signs and medical terminology, students rotate through various nursing sub-specialties and learn how to interact with patients in a variety of circumstances or settings. A student's curriculum may often include the following course topics:
- Pharmacology and drug calculation
- Anatomy and physiology
- Medical ethics
Associate's Degree in Nursing
This 2-year degree program prepares a student for an entry-level career as a registered nurse (RN). These programs focus on teaching biological sciences and professional skills, as well as expose students to first-hand clinical experience.
Courses focus on the scientific skills and clinical experience, and they also include classes in the humanities. Pharmacology is often featured as a topic in many of the following courses commonly found in a student's curriculum.
- Human anatomy
- Adult nursing
- Pediatric nursing
- Psychosocial nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
A 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) provides students with a broad liberal arts education, in addition to scientific, practical and professional skills. Students are trained to take vital signs such as blood pressure or temperature, perform preliminary assessments and educate patients on preventative or home care; some states allow nurses to prescribe medication. Most programs require a criminal background check.
Classes combine laboratory experience, classroom teaching and clinical rotations under the supervision of licensed nurses and physicians. Students also receive training in business and management skills, in addition to a general overview of the liberal arts. A student's curriculum includes at least one or two classes exclusively in pharmacology, as well as the following:
- Abnormal psychology
- Psychiatric nursing
- Adolescent care
Popular Career Options
Graduates must take their state licensing exam, in addition to the National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), in order to practice as an RN. Licensed RNs qualify for entry-level positions as staff nurse in several industries, including the following:
- Long-term care facilities
- Home caretaking
- Birthing centers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), registered nurses with a bachelor's degree or higher were expected to have better job prospects than those without. The BLS also reported that employment of registered nurses is expected to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Registered nurses were reported to receive a median annual salary of $67,490 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
The BLS reported that employment of LPNs and licensed vocational nurses is expected to increase 16% between 2014 and 2024, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. Many of these jobs were expected to be in hospitals, nursing homes and outpatient facilities. The BLS also reported that as of May 2015, the median annual salary of a licensed practical nurse or vocational nurse was $43,170.
All LPNs must be licensed by their state of residence and state requirements for exams often vary. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) provides the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical Nursing (NCLEX-PN). Exams usually last several hours and are administered via computer.
Nurses often choose to continue their studies at the graduate level, culminating in a Master of Science in Nursing. Programs are available for nurses to specialize in clinical nursing, nursing midwifery, nursing anesthetics and nurse practitioner. All nurses must be licensed by their state of residence and pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to practice medicine.
Even though nursing programs aren't focused specifically on pharmacology, aspiring nurses in diploma, associate's and bachelor's degree programs can take courses that provide relevant training in the use and administration of pharmaceutical products.