Class requirements for Registered Nurses (RN) qualifying degrees are different depending on the level of education you want to pursue. You can choose electives based on your desired specialty, such as pediatrics, oncology, orthopedics, or geriatrics.

15 Essential Courses in RN Programs

During your RN program, you will cover many courses, and there are fifteen crucial ones you must learn including:

Nursing fundamentals

Nursing fundamentals is one of the first topics you will learn in nurse practitioner courses. It gives you an overview of who a nurse is, potential careers, duties of a nurse, and how healthcare functions.

Nursing fundamentals is one of the significant RN courses because it sets the foundation for all your nursing classes.

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Physiology is the study of the human body and how it works. You will learn all body parts and how they function when you are healthy, ill, or injured.

Since most courses will rely on physiology, you will cove it among the first classes. 

Introduction to psychology

Introductory psychology includes principles and psychology and helps you understand it as a medical discipline and how you will apply it in your career.

Cognition, personality, organization psychology, and illness psychology are covered in this course.


Microbiology studies microorganisms like viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This course involves class and lab sessions.

Microbiology course is the foundation for infection control, population health, clinical theory, and nursing practices.


Gerontology is the study of aging, which helps you provide care to aging patients. Conditions covered in this course include problems related to aging, the psychology of aging, and how to communicate with old patients.

Gerontology is essential for nurses because of the high aging population in the United States.

Psychology and mental health

Psychology and mental health classes involve providing mental healthcare. You learn about mental health conditions and their treatment and how to take care of patients with mental illnesses.

Physical and mental health are related because you get to understand patient well-being.


Pharmacology is the study of medications, including safe medication administration, administering them, and drug interactions.

You cannot prescribe medicines to patients as a nurse, but pharmacology will ensure patient safety on their prescriptions.

Women and infant health

Women and infant health focus on women’s health, reproductive wellness, pregnancy, delivery, and infant growth.

These classes emphasize your role in patient education and communication and provide direct nursing. You will cover general nursing concepts in women and infant health.

Leadership management

Leadership management is covered later in your RN course because it requires more skills in nursing.

The topics included are management and administration, staff leadership and motivation, legal aspects, and nursing strategic planning. This course prepares you for leadership roles in your career.

Ethics in nursing

Ethics in nursing will help you get through the many complex ethical situations in the nursing field. Professional conduct, conflicts of interest, health equity, diversity, and inclusion are covered in this course.

Ethics in nursing will provide you with a mental framework to think through dilemmas and develop appropriate solutions.

Community and environmental nursing

Community and environmental nursing is a subdivision of public health. You will look at how the community and environment affect health.

Community and environment nursing will help you communicate better with local people and organizations.

Care transitions

Care transition includes transferring patients from one health environment to another, changing treatments, or discharging patients.

Changing the environment can impact your patient’s comfort or health. You must learn how to transfer patients’ crucial information like health records and medications.

Population health

Population health covers clinical intensive within the public health branch. It explores information in complex healthcare systems and socio-ecological theories within the public health industry.

You will understand how to respond to patients affected by population health factors.

Clinical theory

The clinical theory focuses on the foundation of medicine and nursing and how they are tested, designed, and applied.

You get to understand how different medicine models and healthcare applications in nursing. Clinical theory courses help you think tactically in your healthcare practice.

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Clinical study

The clinical study requires fieldwork hours in a health facility. In this course, you apply the skills and theory you acquired under your preceptor’s direction.

Clinical study shows how ready you are to become a nurse, and you get a chance to interact with healthcare settings and specialties.

The RN courses will build a good foundation for your career or advance learning. Ensure you understand each concept to give the best healthcare to your patients.


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