Thinking of starting a nursing degree program?

Well, you should know beforehand that most nursing degree programs require that you take some prerequisite classes before starting the actual program. Why?

Why bother with prerequisite classes?

The nursing field has become a popular choice for many college goers, knowing there is a shortage of nurses in the workforce. The problem is the difficulty of getting into a nursing program. Oregon State University’s website chalks this up to:

“a shortage of nursing faculty to teach in nursing schools and of clinical placements for nursing students to develop their skills. These factors have combined to create an understaffed career field that is challenging and competitive to enter.”

In a report by the American Association of Colleges and Nursing in March of 2012, they found that in the 2010-2011 academic year, 255,671 applications were received for entry-level baccalaureate nursing programs. Of those applicants, 159,387 met the admission criteria and 101,060 were accepted. In other words, fewer than half of applications were accepted. One does not simply walk into a nursing program.

And that’s where prerequisite classes come in.

Can I apply if I haven’t completed prerequisite classes?

At some schools, you can’t even apply without completing your prerequisite classes. At others, having them done means brownie points towards getting into a program. Even at those schools where it isn’t required, it is still recommended because the prerequisites make it much more likely that students will actually be able to handle the challenging workloads.

online nursing degreeSo what exactly are these prerequisite classes all about?

So what are these courses that can enhance your chances of getting into the nursing program of your choice? The prerequisites vary from school to school. So as soon as you know that what you want to do, talk to an advisor who can direct your studies and help you complete the non-clinical classes in preparation for the nursing program. In short, don’t wait until you’re about to apply for a nursing program to talk to an advisor-it should be the first thing you do when you decide you want a nursing career.

Generally speaking, aspiring nurses should complete these fundamentals, which may have slightly different names at each university or college:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Chemistry

You may also consider taking the following courses if they are required, especially if you can complete them as part of your general education courses and kill two birds with one stone:

  • CPR certification
  • Psychology
  • Human development
  • Sociology
  • Statistics
  • Math
  • English
  • Physics

Pharmacology and pathophysiology are two courses that are not required at most schools to have complete before entering the nursing program, but it is suggested to complete them before.

Prerequisites for prerequisites?

Some of these courses may have prerequisites in and of themselves, such as microbiology, so be aware when you are planning your schedule that you will have to have them all completed in the timeframe you need to apply for a nursing program.

Also, at some schools, there is a time limit or a stipulation on how recently you took the prerequisite courses. So if you are starting a new career or changing your major, be aware of time limitations and make sure your credits for the required courses are still good.

It’s not just completing these courses that will get you smiled upon when trying to be admitted into a nursing program. It’s important to do well in the class. Most programs require that you get at least a C, but better grades in those classes will help your chances.

So whether you are just aspiring to be accepted into a nursing program or are waiting around to try again to be accepted into a program, the best thing you can do is to complete all the non-clinical courses possible, and do well in each one, so you are ready when the acceptance letter arrives.

If you’re ready to learn more about which Nursing degree programs are available to you, visit our Nursing Degrees page for more information.

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