People become nurses for a variety of reasons. Some people want to go into the medical or healthcare field, some want to help people, while others want to make sure patients have the education they need to take care of themselves when they go back home. Regardless of what prompts someone to go into the nursing field, a student has to go through an accredited nursing program. There are three basic components to nursing programs: classroom education, clinical observation, and hands-on experience.
The first part of a nursing program is classroom education. Nursing students first take traditional classes to learn the medical material they need to know to practice as nurses. This includes anatomy and physiology, nursing techniques and methods, and drug and medicinal information. The instructors are usually nurses themselves, allowing them to give the nursing students proper context in the knowledge they provide.
Clinical observation gives nursing students the opportunity to see licensed nurses working in the healthcare field. Nursing students shadow licensed nurses to see how they interact with patients and other healthcare professionals, how they put the techniques and methods into practice during their shifts, and how they document their interventions. Nursing programs incorporate observation hours into the curriculum and students fulfill these hours as they would a traditional class.
Hands-on experience lets nurses start working with patients and doing procedures themselves. This allows them to start doing procedures in a controlled environment. An instructor is with the student as they perform the procedures to ensure they do it properly and no harm comes to a patient. This time introduces nurses to nursing practice slowly so that once they get their license; they feel prepared to start a nursing career.
The length and complexity of the program depends on the type of nursing program it is. For example, a program training you to become a Licensed Practical Nurse will not take as long as a program training you to be a Registered Nurse. This is partly due to the amount of information nursing students need to learn in the classroom education component of the program, as well as the number and complexity of the procedures they need to learn in the clinical observation and hands-on experience components.
Some nursing programs are designed for full-time students, while others are more flexible to accommodate non-traditional students. Some programs may also offer some of the classroom education through online courses. Once you find a nursing program that meets your needs, you’ll be on your way to starting the nursing career of your dreams.