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What courses should I take in high school to become a nurse?

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#1 LuvingLife

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 11:43 AM

As some of you may know, I would like to major in nursing and get my BSN, but I am a little unsure of what classes I need to take to be prepared for the field. What sciences and math do I need to have taken or still need to be taken? Should I get as much volunteering experience as I can? Is there anything else I need to know before I enter college to get my nursing degree?

I just really like being prepared and I would for any extra information that I may have missed! :bigear:

#2 Medstudent

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:06 PM

As some of you may know, I would like to major in nursing and get my BSN, but I am a little unsure of what classes I need to take to be prepared for the field. What sciences and math do I need to have taken or still need to be taken? Should I get as much volunteering experience as I can? Is there anything else I need to know before I enter college to get my nursing degree?

I just really like being prepared and I would for any extra information that I may have missed! :bigear:


Ok, basing my knowledge on the requirements for premed (and assuming they're likely about the same...):

take as much biology as you can, especially human biology like anatomy and physiology. You can also do some evolutionary or population biology since you'll probably have to do it in college and it's on the AP if I remember correctly. Take the AP bio to prove that you know your bio well.
Take lots of chemistry as well, as much as you can stomach. I hated chem in high school and never took AP, but I kinda wish I'd had more of a background before getting to college.
Take physics, don't have to go too crazy on that and you don't need to take calculus-based physics, just the basics.
Take math up to and/or including calculus. No need to go further than that. You'll likely have to take calculus in college but you can probably get away with it if you take the AP, at least that's how it worked for premed. There's really no reason to know calculus and I never saw it again after taking it my Freshman year, so you might as well get it over with.

Some other stuff that might help: epidemiology/statistics are looked at very favorably nowadays, in the age of evidence-based medicine. A strong background is a must. If you get to it and you really want to be overzealous, take biochem.

Then, when you have a better idea of where you'd like to go for your degree, take a look at the general college requirements. You can probably knock out some English requirements with AP's.

Oh yeah, and volunteer as much as you can, shadow nurses and nurse practitioners, spend lots of time in a healthcare setting (hospitals are better than private practices because that's where you'll train). It'll give you something to talk about on your college essays so you can express why it is that you want to go into nursing in general, not just neonatology (after all, everyone loves babies, but not everyone wants to be the one to care for the sickest ones ;)). If you're interested in research at all, try to get in on a project as well to show that you like the discovery side.

Edited by Medstudent, 05 September 2011 - 12:10 PM.


#3 Tarreymere

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:11 PM

It has been a while.......I remember I really needed to know algebra and statistics while I was in school for my BSN, but I took math through calculus in high school and had never taken statistics. I guess I would think you would really, really need algebra through algebra two at the least and that you should really know it and not just be able to 'get by', and if you could take a statistics class it would be helpful. We had to know statistics particularly in the BSN program because of the research classes. The algebra is necessary to work out the dosage calculations that you will need to know. Today you usually get everything worked out and prepackaged from pharmacy per the doctor's order but YOU as the nurse are the last check in the system, and if you don't check something and it turns out to be wrong you WILL get sued right along with the doctor. And likely they will find a way to blame it all on you.


I really needed chemistry and biology in college too, but I had taken both of those as well as physics in high school. I didn't need physics.
You will really, really need all the chemistry and biology you can get your hands on, especially human anatomy and physiology. We did chemistry up through organic chemistry in college, and microbiology, and of course human anatomy and physiology so any of those and as much of them as you can will help you succeed later.

You would also find psychology and child psychology helpful too. They will be required in your BSN program later.

As for what your particular BSN program might be looking for from applicants, you know you should ask them. I can only tell you what will help you succeed once you get there. :D

#4 K-FL

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 01:32 PM

#2 is in a pre-nursing program now. Here's the link for her college of nursing college course requirements.

As you can see, it's not that math heavy--you just need Statistics & one other (probably College Algebra as it's the 1st level college math.)

I'd focus on Biology, Anatomy, Psychology, and medical terminology (if you can find it.) Nutrition is a good one too. Foreign language is good too as it will make you more marketable after graduation.

Volunteering is always good, but remember you won't be applying to the actual nursing school until 3rd year. #2 tried to do that here, but they only have the teens working as file clerks--no real hospital exposure.

#5 LuvingLife

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 08:29 AM

That's great, I already have some things covered right now, and of course I still have a lot more to do! The great thing is my dad is working in medical billing and coding and he has some books full of medical terminology that I can use to prepare myself for nursing school. I am doing biology and chemistry this year, and next year physics and probably anatomy and physiology. For math I have algebra 1 and geometry, and this year will be algebra 2. Do I need pre-calc or calculus for nursing school? Is it different for every one? Or could I do statistics next year and not have to worry about pre-calc or calculus?

Thank you!

#6 Shifra

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 09:33 AM

When I entered nursing school, they required that the science courses be completed within the last 5 years.

We were required to take:

Anatomy and Physiology--8 credits (2 semesters), including lab
4 credits Introductory Chemistry (including lab)
4 credits Introductory Organic Chemistry (including lab)
4 credits microbiology (including lab)
3 credits psychology
3 credits Human Growth and Development (in some colleges, this is called Developmental Psychology)
6 credits English
3 credits Math (College Algebra or above); we took a semester of Statistics in nursing school
3 credits Nutrition

#7 LuvingLife

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Posted 12 September 2011 - 11:37 AM

When I entered nursing school, they required that the science courses be completed within the last 5 years.

We were required to take:

Anatomy and Physiology--8 credits (2 semesters), including lab
4 credits Introductory Chemistry (including lab)
4 credits Introductory Organic Chemistry (including lab)
4 credits microbiology (including lab)
3 credits psychology
3 credits Human Growth and Development (in some colleges, this is called Developmental Psychology)
6 credits English
3 credits Math (College Algebra or above); we took a semester of Statistics in nursing school
3 credits Nutrition


That is definetly a lot of science courses, but then again, this is a science field!!:lol: Were these course challenging yet still easy to do and understand? (I know it depends on the teacher and the way the course is taught, but just to get a general idea of things.)

#8 Alyce

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 12:41 PM

Requirements for getting into the Nursing Program vary from school to school. I would definitely take Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology. For math, I'd go as far as Pre-Calculus. When we were looking at schools some only required Statistics and College Algebra and some required on Calculus. For Science just about all of them required Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology but beyond that it varied widely. So for science we made sure to take Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology. We found very few schools that required Physics. I think the best way to answer your question is to go to the colleges you might be looking at and look at the pre-requisites for getting into the Nursing Program. Remember that with most Nursing Programs you have to do the 2 year basic requirements and then compete to get into the Nursing Program. It doesn't usually begin until the 3rd year of college. It's more of a science based degree than math so I'd definitely focus on the sciences. If you can find a good microbiology course that would be helpful as well. Many colleges require that as a pre-requisite as well. Also try to add in Nutrition and a course that cover Human Growth and Development. Those are also usually covered.

#9 LuvingLife

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 07:15 PM

Requirements for getting into the Nursing Program vary from school to school. I would definitely take Biology, Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology. For math, I'd go as far as Pre-Calculus. When we were looking at schools some only required Statistics and College Algebra and some required on Calculus. For Science just about all of them required Chemistry and Anatomy and Physiology but beyond that it varied widely. So for science we made sure to take Biology, Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology. We found very few schools that required Physics. I think the best way to answer your question is to go to the colleges you might be looking at and look at the pre-requisites for getting into the Nursing Program. Remember that with most Nursing Programs you have to do the 2 year basic requirements and then compete to get into the Nursing Program. It doesn't usually begin until the 3rd year of college. It's more of a science based degree than math so I'd definitely focus on the sciences. If you can find a good microbiology course that would be helpful as well. Many colleges require that as a pre-requisite as well. Also try to add in Nutrition and a course that cover Human Growth and Development. Those are also usually covered.


Thank you, and I have biology covered, now all I need is Chemistry and AP Chem, then anatomy and physiology, and possibly Nutrition. Thank you for the heads up, and so far most schools I have looked at only require Biology, Chemistry and A&P, like you posted, while math varies from college to college.

And how do you compete to get into nursing school? I have heard of this but never really quite understood it.

#10 Alyce

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Posted 18 September 2011 - 09:39 PM

Mostly it involves your GPA. Make sure you study and get the best grades possible as nursing schools take those with the highest GPA's first. Many people want to be nurses but schools can't take everyone who applies. There are usually not enough professors to supervise the students when they begin to go into clinical areas and in some places the number of students allowed into clinical areas is limited. That is the competition. Some schools focus not only on GPA but how well you did on Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology and other courses that are required prerequisites and take those grades into consideration as well.

#11 LuvingLife

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 08:28 AM

Mostly it involves your GPA. Make sure you study and get the best grades possible as nursing schools take those with the highest GPA's first. Many people want to be nurses but schools can't take everyone who applies. There are usually not enough professors to supervise the students when they begin to go into clinical areas and in some places the number of students allowed into clinical areas is limited. That is the competition. Some schools focus not only on GPA but how well you did on Chemistry and Anatomy & Physiology and other courses that are required prerequisites and take those grades into consideration as well.


Thank you Alyce for clarifying this for me, now I know that I have to try my best to get into nursing school and not be left in the dust. I hope this goes well, and I hope I will be prepared for what is ahead!:)

#12 K-FL

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Posted 19 September 2011 - 09:27 AM

Thank you Alyce for clarifying this for me, now I know that I have to try my best to get into nursing school and not be left in the dust. I hope this goes well, and I hope I will be prepared for what is ahead!:)


Like Alyce said, the BSN program is actually yrs 3 & 4. Here's what's required for the school dd#2 is attending. It's not only GPA & the correct classes, there's also the score on the TEAS.

BSN Program Admission Requirements


  • Submit a FGCU Application for Admission and satisfy all applicable university admission requirements.
  • Submit a completed School of Nursing supplemental application form. This is a .PDF file.
  • Earn a cumulative grade point average of 3.00 on a 4.0 scale for BSN program
  • Complete common prerequisites for nursing, with a grade of C or higher. Students who have not completed all required coursework at the time of application must include, with the application packet, a written plan for completion of the course(s). A final transcript or original grade report documenting successful completion of the course(s) must be submitted to the School of Nursing prior to starting the BSN program.
  • Complete a minimum of two science common prerequisites prior to the application deadline (Anatomy & Physiology I with Lab, Anatomy & Physiology II with Lab, Microbiology with Lab and Chemistry or State-approved acceptable substitutions for Chemistry).
  • Completion of the Test of Essential Academic Skills Test (TEAS) prior to BSN supplemental application deadline, with scores calculated for BSN program applicants.
  • Applicants who have attended, but not completed, another BSN registered nursing program must provide a letter of support from the Dean of the School of Nursing (or designee) that addresses the following: potential for success in a BSN program, safety in providing nursing care, interpersonal communication skills, and other information the director deems important. BSN applicants from an accredited baccalaureate BSN program must also submit course syllabi and topical outlines for all nursing courses.




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