Nursing is a rewarding career filled with benefits and opportunities. It also requires a lot of work and diligence on the part of the student who has the calling to care for people who are in need. There is much to consider when entering the lucrative and rewarding medical industry.
Nursing as a Profession
Nursing is an expanding employment field that offers significant job security and career flexibility. It’s also a highly competitive and intensive area of study.
A student who intends to enter the health care field has many levels of education to successfully finish before becoming a certified nurse. First-year nursing courses can overload a student who isn’t prepared.
A nursing subjects list can give students an advanced start on the material as well as the knowledge of what to expect regarding the time they will need to devote to studying. This can help them to create a reasonable schedule for work or family obligations as they push through the first year of education to become a certified nurse.
Prepare for the First Year
Set up a schedule if possible before you step into your first lecture class or lab. Prioritize what you need to do on a monthly, weekly and daily basis so that you don’t get overloaded by life and school crashing into your schedule.
Put your studies and your well-being before the needs of family and friends as you transition into the weight of the workload. Boundaries on your time will allow you to focus on the task at hand.
Prepare to fail and in the process succeed. Nurses tend to be perfectionists, and this can create a lot of undue stress when a low grade or missed question occurs – and it will.
Applying to Nursing School
Your application should have a personal approach and show more than your test scores or grade point average. A solid application can greatly increase your chances of being admitted into the nursing school or program of your choice. Highlight all that you can contribute to the university and any extracurricular activities or community service that you have completed to help your application rise to the top.
There are many nursing schools hoping to gather the best students each term. When applying to nursing school, keep a few main factors in mind.
- Make sure that the institution you wish to attend is accredited and in good standing with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Commission for Education in Nursing.
- Check that the program prepares students to pass the required National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX. Also look at the percentage of nurses who passed the NCLEX after graduation from the program or college.
- Check that the program has a high graduation rate as well as how many graduates were gainfully employed after graduation.
Nursing Tuition Costs on Average
Every nursing program will more than likely vary in its tuition costs. The costs and fees are dependent on a few factors, including:
- The type of diploma, such as an associate or bachelor’s degree
- The length of the program
- Location, such as if the student is paying in-state vs. out-of-state tuition
- Public vs. private school
- Online degree
- Full time vs. part time
Typically, a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing will cost a student in the range of $40,000 to $100,000. LPN programs take a year to 18 months to complete and can cost from $4,000 to more than $25,000.
Online Nursing Classes vs. Traditional Nursing Classes
Students who have to juggle work and family obligations may find online nursing courses for the first year to be an ideal solution. They save time and money and can be taken at a more personalized pace. The downside is that students lose vital contact with experienced instructors and a shared community with other students.
Traditional nursing classes offer more of a hands-on experience, with instructors pointing out discrepancies or a better way to advance your studies. However, in schools that have large classes that can swell to more than 100 students, you may struggle and not receive that type of one-on-one opportunity.
First-Semester Courses for Nurses
First-year coursework will vary depending on the school that the nursing student attends. However, a number of the first-year nursing courses that a student can expect to take include many of the same subjects across the board. Nursing school is well known as one of the hardest and most time-consuming degrees to complete, so be well prepared to devote much of your time to studying and earning that diploma.
Typically, a first-year nursing student won’t start rotations until the second semester. The hands-on work is essential, but most nursing students will ease into it after getting some of the basics out of the way.
Nursing Subjects List
The first-semester nursing school schedule will include rudimentary classes such as math, science, English and reading and writing. These may seem extraneous to the subject matter you hope to study in nursing school, but they set an important foundation for your future schooling as well as your profession.
A first-year nursing subjects list includes:
- Math – Nurses need to understand math and quickly calculate measurements for vital statistics, levels of medication and other important calculations. Generally, first-year nursing student classes include statistics and basic algebra.
- Reading and Writing – Nurses are continually learning about the latest technology or health data and writing reports that are concise and easy for other medical professionals to quickly read to assist a patient. This may also include public speaking or history depending on the requirements of the university.
- Science – These types of classes are expected for a health care degree. However, it may seem redundant for those who took and excelled in high school science courses. If you did well in biology and chemistry, then these classes will be a breeze. You may also be required to complete microbiology, health and wellness, genetics, nutrition, human anatomy and physiology.
Nursing-Related First-Year Courses
The introductory classes for nurses can quench students' thirst for knowledge in their field and also whet the appetite for more involved coursework. Be patient. The first-year courses for nursing typically include but are not limited to:
- Roles of Nurses in a Medical Setting
- Health Care Management and Practices
- Health Assessment
- Clinical Courses for First-Year Nurses
The practical experience that clinical courses provide nursing students is important. It can help them gauge their weaknesses and strengths. This type of coursework is more than likely the first time the student is allowed a turn in the real-world experience of nursing.
This is a standard part of a well-rounded nursing program. Classes can be held in a medical office, hospital, mental health facility, hospice or student-run medical service center.
Nursing Fundamentals for First-Year Students
Each school will have a set of nursing fundamental classes. These generally include:
- Lab work for simulations
- Hands-on lab work and experience
These teach a wide range of skills, from assessing disorders to determining treatments and teaching other nurses as they enter the field.
- Imagine America Foundation: How Much Does Nursing School Cost?
- University of California Berkeley: General Pre-Nursing School Course Requirements
- Nurse Journal: 15 Common Courses You Will Take For Your RN Degree
- Nurse Journal: Requirements to Become a Clinical Nurse
- RegisteredNursing.org: Cost of RN Programs
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.