Why Do Nursing Students Have To Study Chemistry?

August 14, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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You love the thought of caring for other people and are interested in pursuing a career in nursing, but when you check out the curriculum of any nursing school you see that chemistry features prominently as one of the compulsory subjects you will have to study. The one question likely to be uppermost in your mind is – Why chemistry? You were hoping you had left that subject behind in high school.

The aim of any nursing school is to prepare you for the challenging journey you are about to embark upon – that of a nurse. To be able to do your job well and handle your basic duties within the medical environment, there are a number of subjects that you need to be familiar with. So why do nursing students have to study chemistry…


Why Is Chemistry Important?

A deep knowledge of chemistry is essential in order to know exactly how to administer medicines to patients. Most nurses are entrusted with the task of giving patients their medicine and it the nurse’s job to know how medicines will react with the symptoms as well as which medicines complement each other and which will react adversely when taken together. Knowledge about these combinations is essential because a wrong combination could result in the death of a patient.

Types of Chemistry

There are typically four different types of chemistry courses that are offered in any nursing programme. These types include:

General level chemistry: The basics of the subject are usually spread over two semesters or so. In this subject you will learn about the various elements and compounds. The periodic table is usually the most basic and fundamental topic that is covered during the course. Most chemistry courses also cover various chemical equations as well as thermochemistry and states of matter. This course is generally a combination of theory as well as a few scientific experiments conducted in a laboratory. 

Biochemistry: This type of chemistry deals with a mixture of biology and chemistry and is usually taught to a class that has a basic knowledge of both these subjects. Biochemistry studies various activities that take place in the body of a living being and the chemical processes that go on in the body. These processes include formation of proteins, fat, carbohydrates, lipids etc.

Organic chemistry: This course is taught alongside biochemistry and is usually taught to students who have finished learning general chemistry. The subject is spread over one or two semesters and it deals with the structure of atoms, molecules and other compounds. Nursing students need to have a good knowledge of this type of chemistry because it deals with organic matter and its reaction to different kinds of chemicals.

Pharmacology: This is one of the most advanced chemistry courses that are taught to nursing students. It is taught only to those who have a good knowledge of general chemistry and often needs the students to have completed organic chemistry as well. This course is very important because it deals with various kinds of drugs and the reactions of these drugs on the human body as well as with each other. It studies both synthetic and natural drugs and how these drugs treat various kinds of diseases. All nursing students have to be good at pharmacology in order to be able to administer the right drugs to patients.