It’s a good time to become a nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for registered nurses is projected to grow 15% over the 2016-2026 period, adding more than 400,000 new jobs across the country.[i] Earning potential for RNs is also strong, with the lowest 10% earning $48,690 and a national median salary of $70,000 as of May 2017.[ii]
Even more important than strong job growth is the fact that nursing career paths also offer the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of others. If you’re interested in nursing as a career, you may be wondering just what the training involves. The entry-level qualification for RNs is an Associate of Science in Nursing degree (ASN).
Altierus Career College offers a two-year ASN program which includes test preparation and test fees for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). All nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN before becoming licensed to practice in their states.
In this article, we offer a preview of the types of subjects you will learn as a nursing student in our ASN program.
Science of the Human Body and Disease
Nursing degree programs include many courses about the human body. At Altierus, the foundation course in this area is Anatomy and Physiology, in which you will study the parts of the human body and how they work together in systems to maintain human health and function.
As a nursing student, you’ll also study how diseases operate. At Altierus, the major course we teach in this area is Microbiology and Infection Control, in which you learn about pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, and how they pass from person to person. You also learn about disease processes, the body’s natural defenses against them, and how nurses can help prevent the spread of infection.
Special Nursing Populations
An ASN program also looks at the different needs of different types of patients, so you will be prepared to offer appropriate care. You will study human development across the lifespan, from the pre-natal phase through to old age, and understand the health challenges people are likely to face as they grow up and age.
You will also look at specific types of conditions which may not affect every person. For example, at Altierus, we include a course on Mental Health Nursing, which offers an overview of different mental health conditions, the impact of stress on the personality, and best practices for treating patients with mental health needs.
The Nursing Profession and Nursing Research
The curriculum of an ASN degree includes course content which explains how nursing teams are organized and how they collaborate with other practitioners to provide patient care. In our Fundamentals of Nursing course, you will explore the role of ASN-prepared nurses within healthcare organizations.
You’ll understand the level of competence expected of you as a nurse as well as the importance of communication among nurses, between nurses and care teams, and between nurses and patients.
Your nursing degree will also introduce you to nursing research: how it’s carried out, how to read papers and understand the findings, and how to apply those findings to improve care for your patients. Performing self-directed professional development by staying current with nursing research is an important part of a nurse’s role.
Direct-Care Skills (Clinical Rotations)
Obviously, an ASN degree includes hands-on training. Throughout your program, you will develop the skills necessary to assess and treat patients, from taking vital signs to wound care to drawing blood.
At Altierus, our nursing students begin by practicing skills in our advanced simulation labs with direct supervision from an instructor. Then, later in the program, students take on clinical rotations at local hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Clinical rotations include a blend of different activities:
- Shadowing – Following and observing a qualified, experienced nurse on rounds.
- Direct instruction – Learning from a nurse instructor through demonstrations or lectures within the healthcare setting.
- Clinical practice – Carrying out nursing tasks with actual patients under the supervision of a licensed RN.
As mentioned above, Altierus Career College includes licensure exam preparation as part of the ASN program at no extra cost. The NCLEX-RN is a computerized multiple-choice exam that can take up to five hours to complete. It covers four “categories of client needs”, including:
- Safe, Effective Care Environment
- Psychosocial Integrity
- Health Promotion and Maintenance
- Physiological Integrity[iii]
NCLEX-RN prep includes reviewing test-taking strategies, reviewing nursing vocabulary and concepts, answering sample questions and taking practice tests. It’s just as important to becoming a nurse as earning the ASN, so we ensure our student nurses have the best preparation possible.