Whether an individual pursues a bachelor's degree, associate's degree or nursing program diploma, required coursework for nursing involves classes in anatomy, physiology, microbiology and chemistry, states the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Other mandatory courses include those in psychology and other behavioral and social sciences, along with supervised clinical experience.
Bachelor's degrees in nursing take approximately four years to complete and include instruction in communication, leadership and critical thinking, according to the BLS. Students in these programs receive more clinical experience outside of hospital settings, and graduates often have career opportunities in administrative positions, research, consulting or teaching. Registered nurses with bachelor's degrees may also pursue advanced practice registered nurse certification and become nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives or nurse practitioners.
Associate's degrees and nursing program diplomas usually take two to three years to complete, notes the BLS. While these paths qualify individuals for entry-level staff positions, many choose to seek further education and obtain a bachelor's degree. In addition to graduating from an approved nursing program, all nurses in the United States must pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, for licensing.
A career in nursing demands critical-thinking skills and attention to detail, as well as compassion and emotional stability, states the BLS. Other requirements include good communication skills, organizational skills and physical stamina.