Courses Needed to Be a Registered Nurse

A prospective registered nurse (RN) must receive training in several of the basic areas of nursing, such as nursing for psychiatric patients, mothers and newborns. Courses to become an RN are found in full degree programs.

Essential Information

RN courses are most often taken in associate's and bachelor's degree programs in nursing. While both types of programs prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and get licensed to work as RNs, bachelor's programs can lead to additional career opportunities in teaching, research and management. Some bachelor's programs, especially those offered online, have RN licensure as a prerequisite for enrollment.

Aspiring RNs usually take a set of pre-nursing courses in topics that might include anatomy and physiology, psychology and microbiology. An introductory nursing course provides an overview of patient care techniques. Students then learn to perform health assessments, administer medications, provide patients with health and wellness advice, and supervise other nursing professionals. Students also gain hands-on clinical experience at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels throughout their program.

List of Classes

The following are descriptions of classes students frequently encounter in an associate's or bachelor's degree program in nursing.

Medical-Surgical Nursing Course

This course provides broad study in all aspects of nursing practice for adult patients. Coursework covers treatment of disorders in all major systems of the body, including respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal and renal disorders. Students also learn procedures for caring for patients undergoing surgery.

Nursing Pharmacology Course

Pharmacology courses familiarize nursing students with the drugs and medications they will encounter during their work. These drugs include those used to prevent or treat illness and those used in diagnostics. Students learn about drug classifications and effects, as well as methods of administration.

Health Promotion Course

A registered nurse's role is not only to treat patients but also to promote wellness through healthier living. This class provides information on nutrition and disease prevention that registered nurses can pass on to patients and the families of patients. It also includes information tailored to the needs of particular groups, such as the elderly, children and the permanently disabled.

Mental Health Nursing Course

Patients with psychiatric disorders or mental illness require unique nursing care. Students in this course learn to diagnose issues in mental health patients and develop both pharmacological and psychotherapeutic treatment plans. Psychiatric patients may be found in hospitals, community care centers or mental health institutions, and coursework addresses the role of nursing care in each.

Maternity Nursing Course

The focus of maternity nursing courses is on care for the whole family through the entire childbearing process. Topics include women's health, reproductive health and care for pregnant and postpartum patients. Students are trained in care for high-risk and complicated pregnancies.

Nursing Management Course

Registered nurses must often direct and supervise other medical staff. This course helps students develop leadership and interpersonal skills while learning to delegate responsibility, balance workload and resolve conflicts. The class also explains the organizational structure of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, addressing issues that can affect an organization, such as budgeting and staff changes.

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