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A Career in Nursing…One Prerequisite at a Time

By Joyce Horton, Ph.D. and Lesley Neff, M.A. | January 4, 2017
 
Online-Prereq-Checklist

If your dream is to become a nurse, some important steps have to come first. The nursing prerequisite courses may seem scary, but if there is an understanding of why they are important, what to expect and how to study, those fears will quickly subside.

Why do you need the 4 prerequisite science courses? These consist of anatomy, physiology, chemistry and microbiology, and combined, they create your foundation of knowledge. 

Nursing is all about knowing the human body, and it all starts with anatomy. In anatomy, you learn the body parts; it is a lot of memorization. Next is physiology, when you learn how those body parts work within each other. Physiology is the functioning of those body parts.  

Chemistry takes us a step back to look at the body from a molecular level, the biochemistry of it. Why is it taking place? How is it taking place?

Microbiology comes after chemistry and is about recognizing when something is not working properly, such as why a skin condition or infection may develop. It is about identifying which microorganisms can mess with the body in a bad way. 

These prerequisite courses cover the basics so that when students enter the nursing program, they are prepared. The first science course in nursing is pathophysiology, which investigates when something goes wrong and identifies what went wrong. Nurses need to recognize what’s not working in the human body and understand why it’s not working.

How can you be successful in these prerequisites? There are 2 important things to understand: 

  • Calendar your study time. Prioritize and mark out time on your calendar for study time, just as you would mark out a football game or a doctor’s appointment on your calendar.
  • Be an active learner, and understand that learning is a process. Reading material on a computer screen is not good enough. Repetition is key. Read material over and over and over again. Listen to audio lectures multiple times, while taking notes. Make flashcards; it’s the oldest tool in the book, but it works. Horton says, you must “see it, write, hear it, think it.” This is active learning. Writing it and seeing it is a huge part of learning. Treat your learning as a process, and you will see the difference.
Don’t put your nursing career off one more day; get started on these prerequisites and get one step closer to your dream job!

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