Do Nurses Need Chemistry Education?

  1. 0
    I am the chair of the department of Math & Natural Sciences that currently teaches our college’s nursing students chemistry (BSN). The chemistry course is a total of 6 credit hours (1.5 general chemistry, 1.5 organic chemistry, 2 biochemistry, 1 combination laboratory). This chemistry requirement is significantly less than our students that pursue a physician’s assistant degree, or even some education majors that want to teach at the elementary level. While reading the suggested courses for taking nursing boards, these three chemistry disciplines are listed. It is also my understanding that achieving a Bachelors degree could lead to the pursuit of becoming a nurse practitioner. It concerns me that our college may decide to remove chemistry from their curriculum; it concerns me more that one of their arguments is that other local four-year colleges are also dropping the requirement. I would love to hear any comments you may have….
  2. Poll: Should a 4-year Nursing degree require Chemistry?

    • Understanding Chemistry isn't improtant for Nursing

      5.68% 5
    • A limited amount of chemistry is needed for Nursing

      28.41% 25
    • Understanding chemisty is important for Nursing

      38.64% 34
    • Understaning chemistry is crucial to Nursing

      27.27% 24
    88 Votes
  3. 46 Comments so far...

  4. 1
    I think an understanding of chemistry is important. I didn't have to take any chemistry as part of my ADN program and am functioning fine as a nurse. They accepted the chemistry I took in high school as fulfulling the Chemistry requirement.

    Chemistry is the foundation for anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology and is important to understand these concepts IMHO.

    I would think for the BSN they would want to leave those requirements in. Especially as you say, the BSN could be used to advance to further degrees like MSN's and NP's.
    afranklin likes this.
  5. 0
    Originally posted by 3rdShiftGuy
    I think an understanding of chemistry is important. I didn't have to take any chemistry as part of my ADN program and am functioning fine as a nurse. They accepted the chemistry I took in high school as fulfulling the Chemistry requirement.

    Chemistry is the foundation for anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology and is important to understand these concepts IMHO.

    I would think for the BSN they would want to leave those requirements in. Especially as you say, the BSN could be used to advance to further degrees like MSN's and NP's.
    I agree with Tweety. While Chem may not be used every day, I don't think it hurts. Any extra education is a positive.
  6. 1
    I took chemistry at Roberts Wesleyan (in Rochester, NY) that was specifically for health care profesionals. Probably it was alot easier than the chemistry your school requires. The professor was great (Jay, can't remember his last name). Since I was an older student, and hadn't had chemistry in high school, I thought it was an excellent course. I think an understanding of general chemistry is important. There are many aspects of nursing that require some knowledge of chemistry such as blood gasses, IV fluids, drugs, anesthesiology, etc.
    afranklin likes this.
  7. 0
    I voted that Chemistry is important to nursing. I didn't really think so when I was taking it but I do now.
    good poll.
  8. 0
    I absolutely agree with the 2 previous posters! Also, electrolyte hommeostasis and action potentials (to understand heart physiology and read EKGs) make a lot more sense. But do you we really, really, really have to diagnose the ABGs? -no. Do we really have to understand acid base imbalance to recognize DKA?- No. Do we really need to know how the electrolytes work as long as we know that a high K+ is bad for your heart? - No. It makes you alot better, though- able to think proactively.
  9. 0
    I didn't want to take chemistry as part of my requierments. I hated chemestry. I thought it was a waste of my time.

    Now I find much of it crucial in my critical thinking process. I know that I personally over analize and have to understand all of a process. I'm not satisfied with knowing that a lack of Potassium or Calcium can cause leg cramps. Or even the physiology of it. I want to know why chemically it can happen.
    That's how I look at labs and look at a patient's signs and symptoms and figure out what I need to tell a doctor.
    Maybe it wouldn't seem as critical to someone else who doesn't mind remembering what needs to be done without remembering the why.
  10. 0
    Dr. O,
    I didn't have any required chemistry within my curriculum, and I have to agree with 3rdShiftGuy that "Chemistry is the foundation for anatomy and physiology and pathophysiology and is important to understand these concepts". What chemistry I needed for those classes I received in those classes. I think some chemistry is definitely needed to round off the RN; however, I think six credit hours are a bit much. I think a better solution to the situation might be to have a three credit hour very broad chemistry class with maybe a one credit hour lab. I think the ARNP's and the PA's certainly need a larger more specific chemistry class. The two professions are order and prescribing medications within there scope of practice - this being my justification. I do have a very strong objection to keeping chemistry in the BSN curriculum because some ARNP/PA students bridge over from the BSN program to their specific courses of study. I think it becomes an ethical problem if that's the rationale used to keep the chemistry program where it is now. It certainly seems at the least immoral to make the BSN student pay several hundred dollars not to mention the time stolen from them because the ARNP/PA students need the class.
  11. 0
    Four hours of college level basic chemistry followed by six hours of organic/inorganic chemistry were a pre-reqs to get into the ADN program when I had it (many years ago). High school chemistry credits were not accepted. I don't even remember most of it, but I know that I have a pretty good understanding of what influences what in the body. And that understanding has enhanced my ability to know what is going on with my patients.

    Probably, my school had tougher requirements than are necessary, but since we only remember a small percentage of what we learn, it gave me a larger base of knowledge to draw from.
  12. 0
    Where I teach, we have decreased the chemistry requirement and added Physics in it's place. I agree that chemistry is needed to comprehend the basis of drug therapy, but the powers that be decided that a working knowledge of physics was also important to understand such things as fluid mechanics [which can be applied to such things as IV therapy, cardiology].

    I do think chemistry is important.


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