How much to know before nursing?

Students Pre-Nursing


Just a simple quick question:

How much do you need to know before you start college/nursing school? What do you need to know about nursing? Do you learn everything you need to know in nursing school, or do you need to come into college with prior knowledge? If so, what?


Kuriin, BSN, RN

967 Posts

Specializes in Emergency.

It's suggested you come in with a working knowledge of physiology and anatomy. I would recommend the coloring books as it allows your brain to think in a creative way while learning something new or old. Depending on the school, you may need to know pharmacology or medical terminology prior to entering the school. I recommend you looking at the classes and seeing what they suggest.

pmabraham, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 2,563 Posts

Specializes in Hospice, Palliative Care.

Good day, SeattleNurse711:

You pick up some knowledge as you complete the various prerequisites for a nursing program. While the prerequisites vary by nursing school, most contain a common core of anatomy and physiology (I and II; both of which must be completed at the same school) and microbiology. You are also free to go above and beyond as well.

Thank you.


3,677 Posts

Specializes in L&D, infusion, urology.

Different states and schools have different requirements. Here in CA, all schools require anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry, and most require statistic, English, sociology, and other courses. You'll have to look at the nursing schools to which you're considering applying and find out what they require.

If you can take a language, that would be extremely beneficial, particularly if it's one that's commonly spoken in your area.


36 Posts

Specializes in Geriatric/Hospice.

My suggestion is, if you know nothing about nursing, is to go and shadow a nurse at a hospital or a facility. Many people don't really know what a nurse actually does before they get into the program and can become overwhelmed at the responsibilities thrust onto you. Also, if you're not one already, working as a nursing assistant/rehabilitation assistant or assisting at places like nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and places like that can help you get the basics down before school.

None of this is required, though. I really knew nothing about nursing when I got into the program. I wanted to do it simply because I felt helping people was my calling in life. Many schools make you take a list of required courses before you can even get into the program, so things like anatomy and physiology, biology and lower level math classes may be required before you apply. So basically you will have basic knowledge before you enter your nursing classes.

The first year of nursing usually gives you all the basics you need, such as: medication administration, med math, taking vital signs, how to talk to residents and documentation. After that the classes will get harder and all of them will build on one another progressively. You don't need to know a whole lot about nursing before you get into the program.

As I said, though, if you know nothing about nursing at all, I suggest assisting/working for/ or shadowing at a hospital or facility before applying to the programs.


133 Posts

It was really helpful for me to have a working knowledge of chemistry. Especially being comfortable with basic chemical bonds, molecular structures and various terms that comes along with that. Those come up very often when you're taking A&P as a prereq. The other prereqs you can kind of just breeze through (sociology, psychology, english etc). For the other sciences, like physics if you have to take that, it was useful to be extremely comfortable with basic algebra. Solving for X and whatnot. Don't really have advice for nursing YET, as I'm still a preclinical student, but I've been hearing all about "applying what you know" and "critical thinking".


27 Posts

As an instructor, it is very beneficial to have a very good background in math and science.

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