Nursing is an excellent career goal as it is the fastest growing occupation in the United States. It is expected that nursing jobs will grow 22 percent by 2018. An aging population and a shrinking workforce are contributing to this need.
There are multiple nursing programs available, which include online degrees, diploma programs or attending a college or university for an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Registered Nursing Programs
- Associate Degree Programs – An associate degree requires five to six semesters to complete, and then, the graduate must pass the National Council Licensure Examination. This program prepares a nurse to function as a caregiver in a variety of settings.
- Baccalaureate Degree Programs (BSN) – Graduates of these programs are fully prepared to provide care in hospitals, in communities and in wellness centers. These nurses are also prepared to assume positions of leadership and responsibility in a variety of specialized areas. The first two years of nursing classes usually consist of general education courses, which include the humanities, social and physical sciences. The last two years consist of courses in nursing theory and clinical practice.
- Diploma Degree in Nursing – A diploma degree in nursing is available through hospital-based nursing schools. These programs are two to three years in length and are designed for nurses to work in hospitals, clinics and other inpatient facilities. While it is a quick method of entering the nursing profession to earn an income, the career options are limited without further education.
Nursing Admission Requirements
Colleges and universities require a completed application and a high school transcript. An applicant must have a minimal grade point average of C. The requirements are the same for colleges and online nursing program also. If the grade point average is lower, the student would be required to take the course.
Students are also required to take the ACT compass placement test in areas of English, math and reading. Most schools require a minimum score of 23. Being admitted to a university does not ensure admission to the nursing program. A separate application is often required for the School of Nursing. Prerequisite high school courses in chemistry, biology and algebra are required, which must have a minimum grade of 2.0.
Some universities require a typed statement of educational and career goals. Other possible requirements are the COMPASS Placement test and the HESI A2 Nursing Admissions & Critical Thinking exams. Applicants are required to complete an FBI and BCI fingerprint report as well.
Associate Degree Nursing Classes
Required general studies for those attending college classes or completing the online nursing program include:
- English composition
- Anatomy and Phsiology – general and advanced
The required nursing courses are very similar between various college nursing programs. They include:
- Introduction to Nursing
- Nursing Skills and Foundations
- Nursing Clinicals, typically taught in clinical laboratory or hospital settings
- Concepts of Adult Health
- Care of Childbearing/Rearing and Family
There is a choice of elective nursing classes, which include Holistic Health, End of Life Issues and several others according to what’s offered at any particular college.
Bachelor Degree Required Classes
The general courses required for a bachelor’s degree are usually the same as those for an associate degree. Many of the nursing courses are also similar, but there are several additional ones required. These include:
- Community Nursing
- Clinical Integration 1-3 classes
- Nursing Research
- Nursing Theory Classes
- Nursing Leadership
- Nursing Capstone
A nursing student can expect written tests, written patient care plans, completing a research project and completing nursing clinicals in the hospital or another healthcare setting. Their grades are based on exams, papers and classroom participation.
Online programs place more emphasis on participation, and they also require clinical hours. Nursing placements for clinical hours are located in the vicinity of the student’s home.
Some students like the traditional classroom setting, where they can communicate openly with other students, but others prefer online courses due to the flexibility. Both programs are excellent.