It’s a typical morning at a city hospital. A woman arrives complaining of severe stomach pain. A nurse asks her a series of direct questions about her symptoms and learns what may be causing the pain. The nurse alerts a doctor, and they work together to order tests and begin treatment. Upstairs, a second nurse administers chemotherapy drugs to a patient who suffers from cancer. On another floor, a third nurse helps to deliver a baby.
If you study nursing, you may train in a hospital like this where nurses care for, educate, and enhance the lives of patients every day. You’ll learn about everything from examining patients and treating their immediate needs to keeping up the health of people with long-term conditions.
Nursing majors train to care for sick and disabled patients and to promote better health.
“I didn't expect nursing to be this hard. I thought nurses just nurtured patients. I didn't know nursing involved all this science and learning about medication and basically having some of the same knowledge as a doctor.”Shonte, junior, nursing, Bowie State University
Are You Ready To...?
- Join a student organization such as Sigma Theta Tau International or the National Student Nurses Association
- Prepare for the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
- Gain hands-on experience in hospitals, schools, community health organizations, mental health institutions, and other health-care settings
- Learn about ethical issues related to terminal illness and death
- Spend long hours studying and memorizing scientific information
- Take many prerequisite courses before being admitted to the nursing program
It Helps To Be...
A caregiver with an inquisitive mind. Do you enjoy detective stories? Do you like the challenge of figuring out a mystery? These interests will serve you well when you’re helping to diagnose and treat a patient’s health problems.
- Is the program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission?
- How many graduates pass the NCLEX-RN?
- Can you apply directly to the program as a senior in high school?
- Will you start out as a prenursing major?
- What types of clinical training sites will you be able choose from? Are they on or near campus?
- Is an honors program available?
- If you’re interested in working in communities where English is not the primary language, are the appropriate foreign language courses offered? Are American Sign Language courses offered?
Did You Know?
Registered nurses make up the largest health care occupation, with 2.5 million jobs.
A course in health assessment will be one of your first nursing classes. In it, you'll practice the art of taking a health history and conducting a physical exam to form an accurate picture of a client's health, arrive at a diagnosis, and design a plan of care. The class might focus solely on healthy adults or consider people of all ages and states of health.
In addition to listening to lectures on theories and techniques, you'll probably practice your skills through role play in lab sessions. That is, you and your classmates will take turns pretending to be the client. Although it's likely that you'll take a few written exams, your grade will probably be determined by many other factors as well. These could include lab assignments, a paper presenting a health history, your performance of a "head-to-toe" physical examination, and the related paper that professionally documents your findings.