Nursing school

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A nursing school is a type of educational institution, or part thereof, providing education and training to become a fully qualified nurse. The nature of nursing education and nursing qualifications varies considerably across the world.

History of nursing schools

United Kingdom
Florence Nightingale was one of the pioneers in establishing the idea of nursing schools from her base at St Thomas’ Hospital, London in 1860 when she opened the ‘Nightingale Training School for Nurses’. Her intention was to train nurses to a qualified level, with the key aim of learning to develop observation skills and sensitivity to patient needs, then allow them to work in hospital posts across the United Kingdom and abroad. Her influence flourished and nursing is now a course taught at a number of British universities. The University of Manchester was one of the first English institutions to offer the course at degree level.

Entry level courses, sought by most universities, are often five Standard Grades/GCSEs, including English, maths and a science (preferably biology), and two Highers/A-Levels. Mature students, over the age of twenty-one, have the option of entering upon completion of a college access course, and experience in jobs such as being a health/nursing assistant are also worthy for consideration into the course.

Currently, nursing is a three-year course in the UK with a balance between course work in classes and practical placements in a health care setting. The first year is foundation, where students learn anatomy and physiology and basic health care. In Second Year, students then split into one of four chosen branches—adult nursing, paediatric nursing, mental health or learning disability nursing—that they wish to specialise in and nursing placements usually involve working within the chosen branch area (for example, paediatric student nurses would only be sent to paediatric units) learning skills essential to that setting. Students complete their course after their Third Year, with the choice of undertaking degree essays during that final year or graduating with only a diploma. Those studying midwifery follow a different pathway, specialising in this area from the first day of First Year. Newly qualified nurses then have to register with the Nursing and Midwifery Council in order to apply for jobs and legally practice.

United States
The Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, New York City, founded in 1873, was the first school of nursing in the United States to be founded on the principles of nursing established by Florence Nightingale. The School operated at Bellevue Hospital until its closure in 1969. The Johns Hopkins School of Nursing founded in 1889 in consultation with Florence Nightingale was one of the very first nursing schools established in the United States. The University of Minnesota was the first university based nursing program. Yale School of Nursing became the first autonomous school of nursing in the United States in 1923. It had its own dean, faculty, budget, and degree meeting the standards of the University. The curriculum was based on an educational plan rather than on hospital service needs. In 1956, the Columbia University School of Nursing became the first in the United States to grant a master’s degree in a clinical nursing specialty.
Pre-requisites often include math, English, and other basic level courses. Basic courses in biology, anatomy and physiology are required. Core coursework includes anatomy, physiology, pathology, and pharmacology. Additionally, a strong emphasis is placed on procedural education such as insertion of intravenous and urinary catheters, sterile dressing changes, proper administration of medications, physical examinations, caring bedside manner, and other vital skills. After the first semester basic skills are obtained, students rotate through Obstetrics, Mental Health, Medical, Surgical, Oncology, Critical Care and Pediatric Units to get a holistic view of nursing and what it encompasses. Many nursing students and nursing schools use medical and healthcare educational software as a study or training aid. Many schools offer an accelerated Bachelors degree in nursing program. A variation of the Second Degree BSN is the Accelerated BSN. In addition to giving you credit for having completed your liberal arts requirements, an Accelerated BSN program will allow you to complete your undergraduate nursing program’s course requirements more quickly than students enrolled in a traditional BSNnursing program. Accelerated BSN programs usually take 12 months to complete, though some programs may run for 16 to 20 months. The traditional BSN programs may take much longer time. For example, in California, where nursing is a relatively high-paid and in high demand profession, the completion of BSN (including pre-requisites, major courses in the program, and General Education courses of college) may take up from 5 to 6 years. A 3.0 GPA is often an entrance requirement for many programs. Some more prestigious schools require much higher GPA score to be competitive. Also, there are other options of Associate Degree for RN and LPN programs(which in term of nursing training is much shorter and the scope of practice is different than RN). Lastly, the Master level is for experienced RNs to reach a higher education and may expand their scope of practice.

In the United States, students graduate from nursing education programs qualified to take one of the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) exams, the NCLEX-PN for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or the NCLEX-RN for Registered Nurses (RNs).

Degrees granted

  • Diploma in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
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