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What Are the Core Courses of Registered Nurse Programs?

Registered nurses (RNs) treat patients in a variety of medical settings. Typically, students must take courses covering the theoretical concepts of nursing, in addition to specific courses that deal with the applied aspects of nursing practice. Find out about the core courses of registered nurse programs.

Registered Nurse Program Core Courses

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is the minimum education needed for employment, but many students obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree to qualify for advanced positions. In addition to basic math and science classes, registered nurse programs include courses covering nursing principles and healthcare techniques. Some core courses of registered nurse programs include the following:

  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Family nursing

Important Facts About This Field of Study

Degree / Certificate Levels Associate's, bachelor's
Concentrations (or Specializations) With advanced education, nurses may specialize in areas such as nurse education, aging, global health
Degree Field(s) of Study Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Continuing Education Required in many states for licensure renewal
Median Salary (2019) $73,300 (for all registered nurses)
Job Outlook (201-2029)7% growth (for all registered nurses)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Microbiology

Microbiology is a core course in most registered nurse programs. Most microbiology classes included in RN programs focus on the medical aspects of the field, such as viruses and other disease-causing organisms. Microbiology courses often include a laboratory component that allows students to apply what they learn in real-world situations.

Pharmacology

Since RNs must have a firm grasp on medication administration, most registered nurse programs require learners to study pharmacology. These courses often cover the different classifications of drugs, and students learn how drugs are distributed through the body and metabolized. Pharmacology courses also show students how to administer medications and how to make sure proper dosages are given. Most programs allow enrollees to take pharmacology classes after they have completed their basic math and science courses.

Family Nursing

In this course, students learn about the theories and practices used in treating families. Classes in family nursing teach students how to treat people of all ages and backgrounds. General health and disease prevention are often emphasized. Since most RNs deal with a wide variety of patients, degree programs generally consider family nursing a core course.