What You Learn in RN Programs

Students who decide to study nursing can often feel overwhelmed by the many paths available. There are so many different degrees, certifications, and professional titles that the nursing world can seem like a confusing maze. For those that choose to begin the journey to become a registered nurse (RN), the course information of many RN programs is a great way to begin to decide what program is right for you.

Before you begin, it is important to understand that nursing school is a challenging, yet rewarding journey. Students who decide to become RNs should understand the time, money, and effort that must be spent to become a successful RN. In many RN programs, half of the course is spent learning the technical side of nursing, like heart rhythms or patient care, and the rest is spent applying the learned principles to professional environments. A degree in nursing requires students to become skilled at the mental, emotional, and physical concepts that will provide patients with the best possible care.

Program Variations

Prospective students can become a licensed practical nurse (LPN), a registered nurse (RN), or an advanced practice nurse (APN).Depending on the program students pursue, varying degrees of skills, procedures, and knowledge will be required. The programs may require practice in settings like technical learning centers, hospitals, or other medical facilities. Each state in America has its own nursing board that decides what training must be provided in accredited nursing programs; as a result, licensure is only valid in the state where it is issued.

Common RN Program Courses

Whether the student enrolls in a program for a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing, an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, or a 3 year hospital training diploma, the courses and information experienced will follow a similar outline. Students may have the option of taking courses in communication and critical thinking skills, pathophysiology, algebra, anatomy and physiology, nursing fundamentals, nursing process, physical assessment, medical surgical nursing, maternal newborn nursing, pediatric nursing, foundations of fundamental health nursing, current issues in nursing, advanced medical surgical nursing, basic nutrition, pharmacology, psychology, or sociology. Some of the courses require lab and clinical practice hours in addition the regular lecture hours. In many cases, ADN programs are available at local community colleges and require around 115-130 hours, taking about 2 years to complete. When selecting a school that offers an ADN program, make sure the school’s accreditation is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to ensure your degree is recognized by future employers. In addition, if you ever decide to continue your education, accredited school credits often transfer to other programs.

Bachelor programs generally take 4 years, although many hospitals and professional medical facilities require registered nurses to have at least a BSN. While the program is more time intensive and expensive, students will have more opportunities in management and hospital positions. Students who have an Associate’s degree are still likely to find job opportunities in private medical practices, nursing homes, and hospitals in rural areas. Furthermore, after students have earned an Associate’s Degree, many schools have bridge programs that allow students to continue their education to earn a Bachelor’s. Associate programs are excellent for students looking to gain experience in the nursing field before committing to 4 years of expenses and intensive work.

As potential job opportunities for registered nurses increase, the number of RN programs available online increase. Students looking to study nursing should be aware of their personal goals and select a program that is going to be right for them. While graduates with Bachelor’s Degrees are highly sought after, Associate’s Degrees are great for students who want to experience nursing before committing a large amount of time.

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