Are these things still taught in nursing school?


  • Specializes in Emergency, Telemetry, Transplant. Has 14 years experience.

Let me start by saying this is not meant to be a criticism of nursing students or any type of nursing program. Based on recent experiences I have to ask if these topics are still covered in nursing school in any detail:

1. ABGs. I was sitting next to a nurse and her nursing student. They were going over an ABG result. The nurse asked the student, "what do you know about ABGs?" The student replied, "the taught us ROME, but not really what it means." The nurse asked, "well, do you know the normals?" The student, who is 5 weeks from graduation, "ummm, not really. We really didn't go over them." Huh? In my ADN program we had an entire lecture on ABGs, a quiz on ABGs, ABGs were included in the next exam, and, of course, they were on the NCLEX. The last thing I heard in the conversation was the student saying, "well, I was told they give us all the normals on the NCLEX."

2. Passing meds. When I was charge, I heard a nursing instructor tell a nurse who was a preceptor for a student (a different student from example 1), "she [the student] told me she is really uncomfortable passing meds." Later I went to the nurse to see what the issues were. The nurse said, "Jill [name changed to protect the innocent] said that I never went over anything with her about passing meds. She said I didn't tell her about checking the patients' armbands or asking name and birthday before passing a med." Is this not taught in the first term of nursing school? Do schools not teach students about med passing at some point prior to 5 weeks before graduation?

3. HIPAA. There has been many cases recently on AN where a student comes to the forum to ask about a potential HIPAA violation. Many times a student has said, "they really didn't cover HIPAA in school." Again, this was covered in painful detail, multiple times, when I was in school.

I repeat, this is not meant as a criticism of any student. I am just curious as to what is going on in these schools.

Specializes in Pediatrics, Emergency, Trauma. Has 18 years experience.

I hope so-I graduated 3 years ago and ALL these aspects were covered in much detail as you described. :yes:


993 Posts

Graduating in a couple days... Learned all of this stuff...

2 and 3 were taught in the first few weeks of school.

I can't fathom graduating and not feeling comfortable passing mess...


38,333 Posts

I went to school almost 30 years ago, a BSN program. I remember instruction on ABG's, and very pointedly that we were never taught med administration in a discreet lesson. It just came about randomly while we were in clinical. Our nurse preceptor told us what we needed to know at that moment. HIPAA did not exist at that time, but patient confidentiality was taken seriously and a topic that was discussed in the classroom and at clinical conference.


38,333 Posts

Graduating in a couple days... Learned all of this stuff...

2 and 3 were taught in the first few weeks of school.

I can't fathom graduating and not feeling comfortable passing mess...

There are some nurses and CNAs, as well as others, that are very comfortable in passing any mess within eyesight!


844 Posts

All were taught in our program. We had ABGs every semester, had a competency check-off for meds (first semester) and passed meds in all clinicals, and HIPAA talk started in orientation. Expectation of HIPAA standards were outlined right in our program handbook and were reiterated each semester in the syllabi. HIPAA violations got you dismissed from the program so you'd better darn well know how you could

violate them! I graduated in December.


993 Posts

There are some nurses and CNAs, as well as others, that are very comfortable in passing any mess within eyesight!

I was taught the first step of the nursing process was avoidance ;)


111 Posts

Schools differ. You might want to see if what you believe is missing is a significant part of the NCLEX. I suspect that some nursing schools are doing with the NCLEX what many public schools are doing with state exams—teaching to the test.

Teaching to the test is an easy way to make a school score better than it is. But it also distorts the purpose of getting an education. Nursing and life are not multiple-choice exams.

Worst of all, I've heard that some public schools, intent on raising their scores, have eliminated recess. I would not have survived grade school without play times to escape the boredom of classes. No wonder hyperactivity has become a problem with kids. They're not wired to sit still for hours.

Specializes in Geriatrics, Home Health. Has 10 years experience.

I graduated from an ASN program 7 years ago. Learned about ABGs in the classroom but never encountered them in clinical. We didn't do anything related to phlebotomy, so we couldn't take ABGs either.

Passing meds was covered once in lab, then occasionally in clinical. We could only give meds with the instructor present, so we didn't pass meds often.

HIPAA was emphasized throughout the program.


66 Posts

Specializes in Peds, PICU, NICU, CICU, ICU, M/S, OHS.... Has 14 years experience.

I know what you mean. We had a test that included like 15 or so questions about ABG's!! THAT is one skill most nurses need to know and be able to interpret quickly!!

I often ask my fellow seasoned nurses if they teach students how to give a bath, make a bed, take a set of vitals, clean up after themselves and (especially) incontinence/diaper care or if they are only taught how to delegate those tasks to the PCA??

Things certainly have changed a lot over the years. I know we had tests on proper hand washing (we were watched in the BR and graded!), how to make a bed, give a proper bed bath, etc.

Seems the noobs just want to delegate these things to the overworked PCA's while they sit, rather than ever do them themselves!! :wacky:


12 Posts

Specializes in Pediatrics.

I graduated in May from a four-year BSN program. We learned ABGs in our pathophysiology course the first semester of nursing school and had it reviewed in virtually every nursing course we took. Same goes for HIPAA. As for passing meds, we all had extensive review of how to pass meds safely and effectively and had to pass a skills check-off before starting clinicals. I think that a lot of the time, if the student comes from a good school and does not know these things, it is usually due to the student not paying enough attention in class/lab or doing all of their assigned reading/homework. Usually these are the students who are "weeded out" during school and do not end up graduating.

BlueDawnRN, BSN

108 Posts

Specializes in Progressive Care. Has 9 years experience.

I graduated a year ago from a community college ASN program and we covered all these topics in painful detail.