What Do You Learn in Nursing School?

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As you consider a career as a nurse, you may be wondering, “What do you learn in nursing school?” While the curriculum varies depending on the specific program, nursing school typically involves nursing coursework, nursing simulation labs and clinical rotations.

two nurses studying

To earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), you must complete a nursing program, which may leave you asking, “What do you learn in nursing school?” While the specifics vary depending on your chosen nursing program, most follow a similar framework.

It typically takes four years to obtain a BSN; however, accelerated tracks are available for students who qualify to complete their BSN more quickly.

An accelerated Bachelor of Science condenses the traditional-length BSN curriculum into a shorter time frame, preparing students to become competent nurses and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) upon graduation. While track lengths differ, both provide students with the same quality of education.

Concordia University Texas’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track provides transfer students with a comprehensive, high-quality education through a combination of online coursework, in-person simulation labs, and clinical rotations. Upon completing prerequisites, students earn their BSN in as few as 16 months and are prepared to pass the NCLEX-RN.

Regardless of the program or track you choose, both will provide you with a strong foundation on which to build your nursing career. Keeping the different types of programs and tracks in mind, below is an explanation of what you can expect in nursing school.

Nursing School Curriculum

Nursing school is a challenging experience for many students, albeit a rewarding one. While the nursing school curriculum can seem intimidating at first, it is intentionally designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed and to acquaint them with the unique rigor of the profession.

As students embark on their nursing school journey, it is important to remember that each challenge is an opportunity for growth. A nursing career is fast-paced and demanding; however, nursing school is the time to prepare and learn.

As you consider pursuing a BSN, understanding what awaits you in nursing school can help you rise to meet the demands.

Woman walking down hallway with backpack

Are you starting a nursing program? Here are 8 things to know as you prepare for nursing school.

Years 1 & 2 of a Traditional BSN

While the specifics of what to expect in nursing school vary, most traditional programs follow the same general structure. Your first year two years in nursing school will focus primarily on the general education requirements you would expect from a bachelor’s degree, such as math, science, and humanities.

Ultimately, you will focus on completing the prerequisites necessary for specialized major classes. Depending on the program, you may also be taking introductory nursing classes. These classes will primarily be didactic learning, meaning you will attend lectures and complete coursework with some science courses that include labs.

Year 3 of Nursing School

By your third year, you should have completed all general education courses and can begin nursing courses. The focus for this year will be on developing fundamental knowledge of disease processes and patient care which include didactic, clinical, and simulation courses.

As you progress through your third year in preparation for your final stretch of nursing school, you will learn and begin to understand the practical application of everything you have learned thus far.

Year 4 of Nursing School

Your final year of nursing school is an exciting one. At this point, your coursework will focus on more advanced disease processes and medical conditions as you experience a variety of clinical environments. This is your opportunity to start to decide where you would like to work as a nurse.

You begin intensive studying for the NCLEX-RN after graduation to obtain your license and begin practicing as a registered nurse (RN). This exam will reflect what you have learned from your nursing education, and you will rely on the knowledge and skills you have acquired throughout your time in the program to successfully pass the NCLEX-RN the first time.

Concordia University Texas’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) track moves students through nursing school in as few as 16 months, after prerequisite courses have been completed.

Clinicals, Skills and Simulation Labs

ABSN student working with simulation manikin arm

Clinicals, skills and simulation labs are an integral part of any nursing school program format —traditional or accelerated — and one that students will partake in throughout their education. While many nursing programs include online courses, clinicals and simulation labs are on-site so students can reap the full benefits of these courses.

Clinical Rotations

Clinicals are held in healthcare settings where students gain valuable, hands-on patient care experience. During clinical rotations, students can expect to gain experience in a variety of areas, such as acute care, long-term care, community organizations, and others.

Clinical rotations begin with students shadowing licensed, practicing RNs in a healthcare facility, where they can gain exposure to the role of the nurse. Then, they work alongside experienced faculty and practicing nurses, assisting in patient care.

Over time, students will eventually provide direct patient care under the guidance and supervision of RNs and other clinical faculty. Throughout the process, students can rest assured that each step in the nursing school curriculum prepares them for this moment.

Simulation Labs

Similar to clinicals, nursing simulation labs provide students with hands-on experience with one major difference: all work is done in a state-of-the-art laboratory without real patients.

Simulation labs allow students to apply the patient care knowledge and nursing concepts they’ve acquired from courses in a safe space. This is a great opportunity for students to build their confidence so that when they begin clinical rotations, they are prepared to approach real-life patient care situations.

Simulation labs also have the added benefit of allowing students to encounter situations and medical emergencies they might not experience during clinicals. This way, when a similar situation arises while working as an RN, they can rely on their previous experience.

CTX ABSN student working in sim lab

Skills You Learn in Nursing School

Throughout nursing school, students will learn essential skills to serve them as registered nurses. The skills you learn in nursing school will fall under various categories, such as technical, transferrable, and value-based skills.

Technical skills focus on the practical and medical processes that RNs should be well versed in. These include, but are not limited to:

  • How to assess patients
  • How to put together a treatment plan
  • How to manage acute care
  • How to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)

Students will also acquire transferrable skills throughout their education. These skills are not necessarily medical, technical-based skills, but skills that will greatly benefit nurses in their career, such as:

  • How to communicate effectively
  • How to advocate for patients
  • How to maintain cultural awareness in patient care
  • How to problem-solve and work as a team

Lastly, the curriculum provides students with value-based skills that are integral to the nursing and medical fields. These skills, such as altruism, human dignity, and social justice, are foundational to ensuring that nurses and other healthcare professionals provide adequate and dignified patient care.

ABSN student working with simulation manikin

Are you debating between an accelerated BSN and a traditional BSN? Find out more to determine whether an accelerated or traditional BSN is right for you.

Earn Your BSN with Concordia University Texas

Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing through a four-year program requires dedicating a significant amount of time, especially if students wish to pursue an accelerated track.

For many students, an ABSN track may be the best option. Concordia University Texas’s accelerated BSN track provides transfer students with a comprehensive nursing school curriculum, preparing them for a successful career as an RN.

Students with a minimum of 60 non-nursing credits from a regionally accredited college or university can obtain their BSN in as few as 16 months over 4 semesters upon successful completion of prerequisites. To learn more about Concordia University Texas’s ABSN, contact an admissions counselor to begin your nursing school journey.