The Major Diseases Nursing Students/Nurses Should Know?


I am starting nursing school next fall (hopefully) and I am curious about the major diseases and conditions nursing students see the most of. I know that in nursing school I'll spend most of my time learning about all the different types of diseases and I'm excited! I love pathophysiology. But I would like to at least get a bit of a head-start and get down the major pathologies that, generally, nurses and nursing students should know extremely well and see all the time.

Any input on this subject would help a lot. Thanks!


7 Posts

Has <1 years experience.

My school teaches by concepts (for example gas exchange, skin integrity, perfusion) not by diseases. What you should do is relax and enjoy this time before you start nursing school.


359 Posts

First, make sure you a have a very good understanding of normal physiology. Without it, pathophysiology won't make much sense. If you feel well prepared than you could pick up an older edition of Essentials of Pathophysiology by Porth for just a couple bucks. It's overkill for what you need but it will cover a lot of the illnesses you will see throughout nursing school.

This book is also pretty decent and a more abbreviated version.

The diseases we see over and over are diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and COPD. Best of luck!

allnurses Guide

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

2 Articles; 6,840 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 12 years experience.

Nursing is not about the diagnosis as much as about knowing what to watch for and how to intervene. With that in mind, you may find it interesting to look up the signs/symptoms and pathophysiology of:


Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)

Renal Failure

Impaired nutrition


Diabetes, Types I and II



Alcohol withdrawal

Hypertensive crisis

Metabolic syndrome

and too many others to count. These are just a few I have found very common in my career.


7 Posts

This is a difficult question to answer. My school has students assigned to several different floors for clinicals, so we all get a different experience. I was on a cardiac telemetry floor. I needed to know NSTEMI and STEMI pretty well, along with CABG procedures. DVTs also came up quite a bit. The thing is, any time the floor got an "odd" or "different" case, it would be assigned to students so that we got exposure. That's how I ended up seeing Guillain Barre and a noncompliant with new ileostomy pt.

Don't stress about learning a bunch before the semester starts. Just watch or read the stuff that gets you excited about nursing and let it all happen. :)