Accelerated BSN

What Do You Learn in Nursing School? A Sneak Peek at the Training

Health Professions

Nursing careers are known for being rewarding and in-demand. Being able to make a meaningful impact in people’s lives every day is definitely appealing, but that doesn’t make it easy. Nursing school is intentionally challenging in order to prepare graduates for the rigors of the profession. Learning to balance compassionate service with precise science takes hard work, hands-on training, and real-life practice. 

If you have your sights set on becoming a nurse, you’re probably curious about the road ahead. What do you learn in nursing school? What skills will you learn? What types of training can you expect? 

Whether you are fresh out of high school or considering a career change, there’s no better time to become a nurse. And there are programs out there to prepare you for success in the field. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of what to expect from your nursing training. 

What do you learn in nursing school? Breaking down the BSN 

There are several paths to becoming a registered nurse (RN). Some choose to devote two years to earning an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). But most healthcare employers agree that a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the preferred credential for RNs.  

So what can you expect to learn in a BSN program? The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) states that educational preparation of BSN nurses must include the following components: 

  • Community education 

  • Nurse management and leadership 

  • Patient education 

  • Clinical and scientific skills  

  • Ethics 

  • Decision-making 

  • Humanistic values 

When it comes to exact curriculum, it will vary from school to school. To get a sense of what to expect, consider the following structure of the Bellarmine University traditional BSN program:  

  • Year 1: Students participate in general education requirements, didactic learning (lectures and classwork), and introductory nursing classes. 

  • Year 2: Students begin core fundamental courses and start clinical rotations and simulations. 

  • Year 3: Students continue clinicals and simulations, in addition to advanced nursing classes. 

  • Year 4: In addition to completing additional advanced nursing courses, students complete several clinicals (including a leadership clinical rotation with a nurse leader in a hospital setting) and prepare for the  NCLEX exam

“I often say a BSN degree is like a golden ticket – you can work in hospitals, schools, private companies, or elsewhere.”  

What are some BSN courses you can expect? 

Exact course names and curriculums will vary by program, but to give you a taste of the types of classes you’ll likely encounter in nursing school, here is a sampling of BSN courses offered at Bellarmine University: 

  • Intro to Nursing 

  • Nutrition 

  • Foundations of Nursing 

  • Transcultural Communication in Healthcare 

  • Evidence-Based Practice 

  • Pharmacology 

  • Principles of Drug Classification 

  • Mental Health Nursing 

  • Healthcare Policy 

  • Community and Public Health 

  • Nursing Leadership and Management 

As you can see, BSN students can expect to be exposed to a diverse range of subject matter. This training and exposure help prepare graduates to make an immediate impact upon entering the field. 

What skills are developed during nursing school? 

Nurses have a unique role as healthcare providers. They are responsible for the majority of day-to-day patient care and communication, in addition to technical and administrative tasks. In the modern American healthcare system, nurses are also increasingly responsible for understanding the business side of nursing.  

To get a better idea of the actual skills taught in nursing school, we enlisted Bellarmine University Assistant Nursing Professor Dr. Ta’Neka Lindsay, DNP, APRN. As a seasoned nurse and instructor, she has seen firsthand how the field has evolved in recent years.  

“Care and compassion for patients and competency in technical skills are still the universal elements of nursing training, but there’s been a big shift in what we expect nurses to know about the business of healthcare,” Dr. Lindsay shares. She explains that today’s healthcare systems are becoming more complex and being influenced by other industries.  

“To be a successful nurse, you have to understand the impact that outside influences have on nursing and healthcare as a whole,” she adds. 

Examples of technical skills for nurses 

  • Patient assessment 

  • Management of acute care situations 

  • Treatment planning 

  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) 

  • Wound management 

  • Patient, family, and community teaching 

  • Phlebotomy 

  • Telemetry 

  • Nursing intervention 

Essential transferable skills for nurses 

  • Communication 

  • Empathy 

  • Compassion 

  • Patient advocacy 

  • Time management 

  • Leadership 

  • Cultural awareness 

  • Teamwork 

  • Problem-solving 

  • Intuition 

  • Professionalism 

Professional values in nursing 

According to the AACN, BSN-level nurses are expected to understand and embody the following professional values for nursing practice: 

  • Altruism: deep and authentic concern for the welfare and wellbeing of others  

  • Autonomy: the right to self-determination on the behalf of patients  

  • Human dignity: respect for the inherent worth and unique individuality of all people and populations  

  • Integrity: acting in accordance with the accepted code of ethics and standard of practice for professional nurses 

  • Social justice: acting in accordance with fair treatment of all people, regardless of economic status, race, ethnicity, citizenship, disability, or sexual orientation  

What else should you know about nursing school?

For those who are interested in becoming a nurse because they have a genuine passion for helping others but are apprehensive about the science and math requirements, take note. According to Dr. Lindsay, you shouldn’t write yourself off right away. She recommends seeking out resources and mentorship and seeing if you can improve in your weaker subject areas. 

“It’s a lot of work, a lot of sacrifice, a lot to learn, but it’s the best decision you could ever make. You get to help people, advocate for patients, connect them with resources, and improve the quality of their lives,” Dr. Lindsay shares. “I often say a BSN degree is like a golden ticket – you can work in hospitals, schools, private companies, or elsewhere.”  

Take the next step on your path to becoming a nurse 

You now have a much better understanding of what you learn in nursing school. If this information has you excited at the prospect of pursuing this rewarding profession, take the next step. Your skills and compassion are needed now more than ever!  

Learn more by visiting our traditional BSN program page. Or if you already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field, take advantage of our Accelerated BSN track. 

Tags: Accelerated BSN , Healthcare , Lansing , Nursing



Located in the historic Highlands neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, Bellarmine University is a vibrant community of educational excellence and ethical awareness that consistently ranks among the nation’s best colleges and universities. Our students pursue an education based in the liberal arts – and in the distinguished, inclusive Catholic tradition of educational excellence, the oldest and most rewarding in the western world. It is a lifelong education, worthy of the university’s namesake, Saint Robert Bellarmine, and of his invitation to each of us to learn and live In Veritatis Amore – in the love of all that is beautiful, true and good in life.