Nursing Curriculum Essentials
All programs adhere to the essential components of a nursing curriculum so that their students pass the NCLEX exam. However, the NCLEX exam determines entry-level nursing competency; therefore. most programs teach content that reaches beyond the scope of NCLEX to prepare students for their nursing careers. Curriculums vary by level; associate degree nurses typically complete between 60 and 90 credits, while baccalaureate students complete 120 to 150. Hospital or vocational school-based diploma and practical nursing programs use hour-based requirements instead of credits, but still provide content suitable for NCLEX. These programs may also integrate content instead of presenting it as stand-alone courses; for example, they may include pharmacology throughout their nursing courses rather than as a separate pharmacology course.
Several courses are required of all nurses, although their content and intensity may vary by level. Other nursing courses tend to be more specific to baccalaureate programs. Baccalaureate programs also typically allow for elective courses, which can be utilized for career-enhancing minors or concentrations such as Health Administration, Forensics, Psychology, and Gerontology. As you will note by the course descriptions that follow, nursing courses build on each other to provide students with the essentials of client care.
Nursing Fundamentals I & II
As its title signifies, Nursing Fundamentals lays the foundation for the other nursing courses, and your career. The first course includes: an introduction to nursing; theoretical principles such as Maslow's hierarchy of needs and nursing theory; the healthcare delivery system; the roles of the nurse; critical thinking; the nursing process; therapeutic communication; client safety and comfort; and an introduction to disease transmission, infection control, and standard precautions. The second course introduces students to basic nursing skills: therapeutic communication, hand hygiene, making an occupied bed, bed baths, oral care, medication administration, intravenous therapy, wound care, musculoskeletal devices (casts, traction), and blood glucose monitoring. Many programs introduce students to clinical practice in this course, beginning with the nursing skills laboratory and progressing to an acute or long-term care facility. Vital sign assessment—temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and respiration—may be a component of this course or the health assessment course.
Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II
Anatomy is the study of the body's internal and external structures, such as the skin, skeleton, heart, and liver. Physiology is the study of how organs perform their vital functions including digestion and respiration. Human Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) requires two courses to cover its extensive content, and each course consists of lecture and laboratory. The first course begins with A&P at the cellular, chemical, and tissue levels, then moves into the system level, which continues into the second course. Students will study the following systems: integumentary system (skin, hair, and nails), nervous, endocrine, respiratory, lymphatic, immune, cardiac, digestive, urinary, musculoskeletal, and reproductive. You will also learn about fluids and electrolytes, acid-base balance, metabolism, and genetics. A&P creates the foundation for health assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and a large portion of the nursing process. Be advised that dissection of preserved mammalian specimens is required during laboratory sessions.
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