Nursing students take classroom instruction but also spend time in clinical settings under supervised practice. Focus areas for nursing students include anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, chemistry and microbiology. Nursing students are trained in patient care techniques and diagnostic skills, and many will also take courses relevant to their chosen specialty, such as psychiatric, emergency or infant care.
Introductory courses give students a look at the nursing profession, and explore the history of nursing as well as theories and skills of the profession. Classes include discussion of critical thinking and decision-making in nursing. A variety of health care systems are analyzed, and classes examine legal and ethical concerns in nursing. Economic and cultural variables also are covered.
Microbiology classes introduce students to the organisms that can cause disease. Students study viruses, bacteria and fungi, often in a laboratory setting. The courses are constructed to impart the practical knowledge nurses need when working with patients. Understanding the microbiology of disease causing organisms assists nurses in understanding the critical areas of sanitation and contagion control to prevent illness.
Pathophysiology teaches students the effects of diseases on the normal human body, tracking changes that occur when illness is present. Students are taught patterns of disease and the body's response, witnessing how the body fights or succumbs to disease and also how medical intervention can help. Students also see how healing occurs.
Nurses must know about therapeutic drugs, their uses, benefits and interactions. Students are taught different classifications of drugs, as well as how drugs are administered and metabolized. Pharmacology courses also provide instruction on the ethical and legal aspects of medications.
In these courses, nursing students learn to assess the condition of the body systems such as cardiac, respiratory, and musculoskeletal. They learn protocols for gathering health histories and other data. Nursing students also are taught how to perform these tasks, taking into account psychosocial factors such as the patient's age or culture.
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