Courses Needed to Be a Registered Nurse

A prospective registered nurse (RN) can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing. Read on for descriptions of common RN courses, along with some basic information about RN programs. View article »

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Essential Information

Program Levels Associate or bachelor's degree
Field(s) of Study Nursing
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent
Program Length 2 years for associate degree; 4 years for bachelor's degree
Licensure/Certification Must pass National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN)
Common Courses Medical-Surgical Nursing Course
Nursing Pharmacology Course
Health Promotion Course
Mental Health Nursing Course
Maternity Nursing Course
Nursing Management Course

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

RN courses are most often taken in an 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 an RN, bachelor's programs can lead to additional career opportunities in teaching, research and management.

Aspiring RNs usually take a set of pre-nursing courses like anatomy and physiology, psychology and microbiology. Students also gain hands-on clinical experience at the basic, intermediate, and advanced levels throughout their program.

Other common concepts explored in a nursing program include:

  • Patient care techniques
  • Medical assessments
  • Phlebotomy
  • Lifespan development

List of RN Classes

Now let's look at a few nursing courses in more detail:

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

A pharmacology course familiarizes 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 their families. 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

A maternity-nursing course focuses 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. A nursing management 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.

For help with your registered nurse course, check out our resources that will help you study, practice, and master your material!

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