What To Expect In Your First Year At Nursing School

April 25, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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Your First Year of Nursing School

A day of hospital ward rounds! Gaining admission into a college nursing program offers you a great start to a successful healthcare career, with numerous professional opportunities open to you after you graduate. Whether you are seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, all nursing programs have a well-rounded curriculum that includes courses in a wide range of subjects from English and pathology to maths and liberal arts.

Irrespective of which program you choose, most nursing courses have several features in common. You will first have to start with a few mandatory prerequisites such as English, math and basic life sciences. Although some of these may seem totally irrelevant to nursing, everything you learn during the first year will help you during your working life. English classes will help you write clear and concise notes in a medical record. Solid math skills will make it easier to calculate the correct drug doses or at the very least, ensure your patient’s safety by double-checking a dosage prescribed by a doctor or pharmacist.

For first-year nursing students, required courses may differ depending on the school you are attending, but most classes will fall in to the following categories: general sciences, liberal arts, nursing and lab work or clinicals.

General Sciences

Sciences are an essential component of all healthcare curriculums and across all healthcare specialties. Learning the basics in biology and chemistry is compulsory at any nursing school. If you’ve already done foundation courses in these subjects, you would still be required to take other science classes, which may include human anatomy and physiology, microbiology, health and wellness, genetics, and nutrition.

Liberal Arts

Liberal arts classes are required for all first-year college students and those doing a nursing program are no exception. While the specific course requirements may vary depending on the college, classes in English, history, math and other core subjects, along with electives such as public speaking, often form an essential component of the curriculum. Though these subjects may not be directly relevant to nursing, they give students essential background knowledge and skills that will serve them well in their professional lives after graduation.


During your first year, you will also be exposed to subjects that are specific to nursing. Most schools start with introductory classes designed to acquaint first year nursing students with the field. This would include an introduction to nursing roles, health assessment and other foundational nursing classes. Specific nursing classes will depend on the school. Healthcare management and practices, pathology and pharmacology are other nursing-related classes you will be introduced to in your first year.  


Clinicals give nursing students the practical experience necessary to succeed in the field. For first-year students these practical classes provide an eye-opening glimpse into the real world of nursing. Classes that deal with various clinical processes and concepts form a standard part of first year nursing programs. These often take place in various settings ranging from family practice offices to medical hospitals or mental health facilities.

In all schools, the first-year classes are designed to prepare nursing students for the second year, which will include an intensive clinical focus in diverse settings as well as advanced classes such as nursing leadership and ethics.