April 3, 2023

Nursing Classes You’ll Need to Take to Become an RN

Nursing Classes You’ll Need to Take to Become an RN

Becoming a nurse is a long, exhausting, and at times, daunting experience. Students are expected to take a mix of didactic classes and practical experiences. Some courses are significantly more complicated and more challenging than others, so it’s important to understand nursing classes you’ll need to take and how they will apply to working as a nurse. 

Most Common Classes Nursing Students Will Need to Take

Nursing Fundamentals

What Will You Learn?

Nursing Fundamentals is an introductory nursing course that will introduce students to the world of nursing, especially those that have no experience or exposure. 

Students can expect to learn the basics of patient care, how to interact with a patient and their families, as well as basic fundamental skills like  how to take blood pressure, heart rate, and physical assessments. 

Traditional BSN students can expect to take this class either during freshman year or during their sophomore year, depending on the structure of the program.

Why Is This Class Important?

Nursing fundamentals are essential to building the foundation for all other nursing classes and eventually clinicals. It is considered the building block to the remainder of the nursing school curriculum.  

Health Assessment

What Will You Learn?

This course will build upon the previous nursing courses and help enhance health and physical assessment skills. 

An emphasis is placed on interviewing skills, health histories, and physical and psychosocial findings. The focus is on healthy patients versus sick patients. 

Students are expected to obtain health histories, perform physical and psychosocial assessments, establish a database, and formulate initial nursing plans using the nursing process.

Why Is This Class Important?

This course is vital to nursing students because it teaches students how to interact with patients, but also how to perform a basic physical exam on a patient. This is a common responsibility of nurses and something that is done countless times throughout a shift. 


What Will You Learn?

Considered one of the more difficult courses in nursing school, many students find pharmacology to be scary but unfortunately, it is also one of the most important courses in the nursing school curriculum. 

Students are introduced to the properties, effects, and therapeutic value of the primary agents in the major drug categories. Common drugs discussed include diuretics, cardiovascular agents, respiratory drugs, and gastrointestinal agents.

Why Is This Class Important?

Pharmacology is important because it discusses how drugs interact with one another and nurses give medications on a daily basis, multiple times throughout a shift. 

Nurses need to understand the medications, why they are being administered, and how to safely administer them to patients. 

>> Related: Pharmacology Study Tips


What Will You Learn?

Pathophysiology focuses on manifestations of disease, risk factors for

disease, and the principles of the pathology underlying illness and injury to therapeutic nursing interventions and outcomes. 

Nursing students will apply principles of normal anatomy and physiology of human body systems as well as identify the appropriate pharmacological treatment of specific diseases.

Why Is This Class Important?

This course is important for nurses because it can help nurses identify the early stages of the disease as well as the signs and symptoms of different disease processes. 

It allows nurses to recognize the possible disease progression and how to intervene appropriately.  


What Will You Learn?

Students can expect to learn microbial growth and the study of the biology of different microscopic organisms including bacteria, viruses, algae, fungi, molds, and protozoa. 

Nursing students will learn how they are pathogenic, how the body defends against them, but also how the body can be invaded. The structure and function of different microorganisms are discussed and the medications that will target them. 

Why Is This Class Important?

Nurses need to know about different types of organisms because bacterial and viral infections are very common.  Microbiology helps nurses how to understand the basic concepts of reproduction, morphology, and genetics. 

Anatomy and Physiology

What Will You Learn?

Students can expect to learn about each of the different body systems in great detail and how they are interconnected and related. Students will learn how to palpate, percuss, and auscultate different body systems. 

Why Is This Class Important?

Understanding human anatomy and physiology is essential to nursing. It helps in assessing, evaluating, diagnosing, and tracking a patient's health.

Healthcare Ethics

What Will You Learn?

This course is becoming more and more important in nursing school curriculums over the last several years. While students will not directly learn how to care for a patient or different disease processes, they will learn the intricacies of patient and caregiver viewpoints and individuality. 

The course will address different types of healthcare-related ethical dilemmas and how to address them. 

Why Is This Class Important?

Nurses will face countless ethical dilemmas throughout their careers and learning how to properly deal with them and how to navigate them is important. 


What Will You Learn?

Nursing students will focus on the research process and evidence-based nursing practice.

Why Is This Class Important?

Nursing practice and decision-making are often rooted in evidence-based research. This course teaches students how to focus on research and its application and impact on nurses and healthcare. 

Population Health

What Will You Learn?

This course will discuss how social environments, genetics, geographic location, and community behaviors all have an impact on the distribution of health in a specific population. 

Why Is This Class Important?

Population health allows nursing students and nurses to identify and address issues within the healthcare system, including the needs of specific populations and communities. 

Additionally, nurses can address the disparities in healthcare between different races, genders, and ethnicities. 

Human Development

What Will You Learn?

Nursing students will study the psychological, social, cultural, and biological development of people from conception through death. 

The course will highlight the changes in the individual through the lifespan and different relationships through time. 

Why Is This Class Important?

Nurses consistently are helping patients during some of their toughest moments. This course will help nursing students understand what they’re going through, the relationship between society and individual growth, and how to support the physical and mental health of their patients. 


What Will You Learn?

Clinicals are essential to becoming a nurse. In fact, some feel like it is the most important course taken throughout an entire program. 

Nursing students can expect to take several clinical courses throughout a program. Most students will have clinicals in the following areas:

  •  OB
  • Medical/surgical
  • Psych
  • Pediatrics
  • Home health

Why Is This Class Important?

During clinical rotations, nursing students will apply the information learned during the didactic portion of the program and apply it directly to patients and their families. Clinicals allow students to practice skills under the guidance of a licensed nursing preceptor. 

What Classes Will You Have to Take? That Depends

Specific classes will vary by nursing program and will also depend on the type of program. 

Nursing students in a traditional BSN program will take all of the classes on the list while students in an RN to BSN bridge program will not. For example, those already employed as an RN will not have to complete clinicals while others will. 

Consider discussing with an admission counselor prior to applying to a nursing program to determine the specific courses you will be required to take throughout the program.