What can I Expect at Nursing School?

Margo Upson
Margo Upson

To become a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN), you are required to attend nursing school. Nursing programs are typically run by community colleges. While some hospitals do offer classes, they are usually affiliated through a local nursing school.

Nursing school requirements vary and depend on the nursing practice level.
Nursing school requirements vary and depend on the nursing practice level.

The education requirements for becoming an LPN are about half of those required for an RN. LPN programs last about one year, while RN programs typically last two. RNs graduate with a Associate's of Science degree in nursing. Although the classes for the two may differ, one thing is true about both. Nursing school is hard. There are a lot of technical aspects to nursing that must be learned. It is not uncommon for someone who held a high grade point average during their prerequisite classes to watch their grades tumble during nursing school. It is better to focus on learning what you need to learn, and not worrying about the grades as much.

Nursing schools work with hospitals to arrange additional practical training for their students.
Nursing schools work with hospitals to arrange additional practical training for their students.

There are a lot of courses offered in nursing school. Because nurses are responsible for so much of the routine care in a health care setting, there is a lot to learn. Classes in anatomy, nutrition, microbiology, physiology and psychology are all normal. There will also be courses in surgical nursing, mathematics and statistics, and patient assessments. Most nursing schools require courses in pediatric care, the grieving process, and disaster preparedness.

A large part of the nursing school experience is the externship. An externship is like an apprenticeship. You will be working in a hospital, adult care facility, doctor’s office, or other health care environment to get hands-on experience in nursing. This experience is invaluable, and can give you an in-depth look at the career of nursing. Your externship will give you a chance to practice what you have learned in your courses. This will also give you an opportunity to develop the skills needed to work with patients, doctors, and other nurses.

At the completion of their nursing program, students studying to become RNs will be required to take a licensing exam, the NCLEX. Nursing school will help to prepare students for this exam and for their careers as nurses after their education. Although nursing school is a very intense program, it does a great job preparing new nurses for a career that can be as challenging as it is rewarding.

Nursing school provides hands-on experience on how to care for patients.
Nursing school provides hands-on experience on how to care for patients.
Margo Upson
Margo Upson

Margo has a varied academic background, which has involved everything from psychology and culinary arts to criminal justice and education. These wide-ranging interests make her an ideal wiseGEEK writer, as she always enjoys becoming an expert on new and unfamiliar topics.

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Discussion Comments


BrickBack- I heard that too. You know that there is accelerated nursing school available to those with a four degree that is not in nursing.

This is mainly for career changers that seek to become nurses, but have educational training in a different field. It usually lasts anywhere from 15 to 24 months, but it is very intense.

Because of the nursing shortages, this program is now available. In addition, many hospitals have agreements with local college students. They will offer tuition reimbursement for nursing students and allow them to do their externship at the hospital if they agree to work at the hospital upon graduation.

It is a great deal for nursing students. Baptist Hospital in Miami, Fl has such a program and they are considered among the top 100 companies for women to work for.

They offer such generous benefits that any nurse would be lucky to work there. People generally don’t leave this hospital. When looking for nursing schools ask if any of these programs exists with local hospitals.


Bhutan-I agree with you. I wanted to say that it is best to go to an accredited nursing school in order to seek a nursing degree.

An accredited nursing school will prepare you for your LPN or RN licensing exam. Most community colleges also double as a LPN nursing school, but for an RN degree, you would have to go to a college or university system.

There are also online nursing schools, but you have to check the accreditation and the level of communication offered by the school.

Nursing school is hard and you will want to be able to contact the professor with any questions. Some of the medical terminology is complicated and never-ending, so you do need support.

Also, consider the cost. The community college route would be the least expensive and many community colleges have reciprocal agreements with state universities.

This means that if the student successfully graduates from the community college, they will be admitted to the university automatically. A state university is also cheaper than a private or technical school and it is also more prestigious than a vocational nursing school.


Anon70238- Nursing is a noble profession and you should be proud of your choice in seeking a nursing degree. Like most worthwhile things in life, the nursing degree does not come easy, but that will make you appreciate the process even more.

In some cases, nurses do more than doctors do and they don't go to school as long as doctors do.

The medical field is a dynamic one with new medical advances happening all of the time; it should make your role as a nurse easier. I have enormous respect for nurses.


I am a new nursing student who started the program with a 4.0 GPA. I am not working, nor do I have kids. I was totally devastated when I made my first non passing grade. I just want to thank you for the comment about it not being uncommon for grades to drop, but to focus on learning. From this point on, that will be my focus.

K. Jackson, Memphis, TN

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