Enrolling in an online nursing program is a great way to embark on an exciting career in nursing. While no program is completely online— all programs will necessarily have some sort of in-person component—you can complete a good deal of your coursework on your own time from home. Then, all you have to do is work through your residency and take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to begin working as an RN. Most online nursing programs, like on-campus programs, consist of the same basic curriculum. In addition to your program’s general education requirements and prerequisites, you can expect to take the following courses at some point.
#1 Fundamentals of Nursing
This will be your Nursing 101 course. In fundamentals of nursing, you will learn just that: basic nursing skills and duties ranging from reading and recording vital signs, analyzing symptoms, assisting patients with bathing, grooming, and getting around. You will also cover first aid basics and record keeping here. If you are not yet enrolled in a program, there are some facilities that offer free online courses that are transferrable.
#2 Nursing Health Assessment
This course will help you to hone your bedside and examination room communication skills. You will learn how to conduct a routine physical examination, to review a patient’s history, and how to process any lab tests you may need to conduct. Depending on the program, you may also focus on specific populations, like women’s health, pediatric care, and geriatric care. Finally, you will learn etiquette and professionalism as you discuss general health and wellness with your patients and their caretakers.
#3 Human Growth and Development
This course will cover the basics of mental and physical development and the range of factors that effect this development. The human development course focuses on viewing the patient as a whole person, rather than a given symptom. You will spend time discussing various disabilities and diseases which inhibit physical and mental development. Most courses will offer a lifespan overview as well as in-depth analyses of each stage of life. You may also devote some time to psychology and the social sciences.
Anatomy classes are typically fun and challenging, and require a lot of memorization. You will have to know intimately the skeletal, muscular, and organ systems. You will develop knowledge of how the organs work together and separately. You will also learn to use the expansive lexicon of human anatomy—knowing both scientific and layman’s terms for all parts of the body. Additionally, you will further study human growth and development from the embryonic stage to old age. Skills you will develop will include dissection, microscopic analysis, x-ray analysis, and other lab techniques.
Pharmacology courses are more challenging than ever, given the sheer number of prescription and over-the-counter drugs on the market. This is an intense course, requiring the memorization and understanding of thousands of drug names generic equivalents, their function, dosage calculation techniques, projected patient response, and possible side effects.
This is a fascinating class that studies the development and behavior of microorganisms. Some programs require students to have passed both a biology and a chemistry course prior to enrolling in basic microbiology, as you will focus on the microbes that effect human health. You will learn to identify and treat infection and disease caused by these organisms.
The typical human physiology course will emphasize the importance of wellness and prevention through nutrition and exercise, and students will learn how to assist patients in creating wellness, diet, and exercise programs. You will spend time studying the ways in which the body’s systems function together and independently, how to monitor and assess the functioning of these systems, and how to diagnose and treat inhibited function.
#8 Community Nursing
Some programs treat this as a more advanced course, while others consider community health to be one of the foundations of nursing. Regardless of its ranking in your chosen program, the course will focus on community health issues like environmental factors, disease and epidemiology, and family wellness. This may extend to homecare and hospice, childbearing care, and a range of family concerns in between. Additionally, this course will examine the effects of disease and disorders across population to identify and treat higher-risk groups.
#9 Theory of Clinical Practice
Course titles vary, and include Clinical Decision Making, Ethics of Nursing, and the like. All nursing programs include at least one course that deals with nursing within multiple contexts: the framework of ethics, the law, society, and across cultures. Before you begin your practicum or residency, you will have the chance to practice decision making in several simulated situations. Some programs include real nurse-patient interaction in this class as well.
#10 Leadership and Management
This is typically an upper-level class, and will likely be one of the last courses you take before applying for licensure. You will learn the importance of teamwork, communication, task management, and conflict resolution for the benefit of both the patient and the workplace as a whole. Professionalism is highly valued in nursing, and this course will present students with many of the potential challenges unique to the medical field.