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Open Online Courses in Nursing

What is Nursing?

Nursing is a medical field that focuses on caring for patients and ensuring they regain their health. Nurses can choose to specialize in different kinds of nursing care, such as pediatric nursing (nursing for children), geriatric nursing (nursing for the elderly), psychiatric nursing (nursing for the mentally ill), medical-surgical nursing (working to support surgeons and physicians), and maternal-child nursing (nursing with pregnant women and their children). In all cases, however, nursing requires knowledge of anatomy, physiology, medical procedures, and medication administration, as well as a commitment to patient-centered care.

Rather than specialize in working with certain groups of patients, other nurses choose to take courses that prepare them for performing certain procedures. Some choose to specialize in the use of anesthesia (numbing and sleep-inducing drugs used in surgery), midwifery (the delivery of children and care for the mother), and critical care (the handling of patients who have serious wounds and illnesses).

What Can Online Courses in Nursing Actually Teach Me?

Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and you should check offline or online nursing courses for this accreditation before enrolling. A degree from a college or university without accreditation cannot get you any nursing certification in many states, so checking college nursing programs for accreditation is a good way of protecting your future. Online courses in nursing are uncommon due to the need for practical field knowledge in the profession. Clinical training is difficult to offer through an online nursing course, so be mindful when looking at online courses.

An online nursing class can be useful, however, for theoretical areas of the field and those that are largely focused on memorization, such as anatomy, nursing fundamentals, and medical terminology. These online courses should allow you to answer questions such as:

  • How do body systems interact with one another?
  • What are the key terms used in nursing professions?
  • What are the important skills necessary for nursing problem solving and decision making?
  • What are some of the ethical and legal issues in nursing?
  • How does patient nutrition affect nursing work?

As with any educational endeavor, it is important to look into the schools you are considering before enrolling. Do professors in the department have a Ph.D. in nursing or a related medical science field? Have students written reviews about the nursing program at the school? Does the school have a strong reputation for online learning or nursing?

Free Online Courses in Nursing From Around the Web

The following is a directory of open courseware for nursing and related fields. Open courseware includes lectures, quizzes, lesson plans, class notes, and other information from courses taught at prominent universities around the globe. You can read this information free of charge, but you will not have access to professors to ask questions. With open courseware, you can learn some of the theoretical components of nursing work and get a sense of the topics you will study if you enroll in a nursing degree program.


Nursing (6)

Perspectives in Global HealthUniversity of Michigan

Open Courseware

ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing), Global Health, Public Health
Taught by: Dr. Jody Lori

Course Description:

Originally recorded in the fall 2010 semester, this undergraduate nursing online course is intended for nursing students and current nurses interested in working abroad. In the course you will cover the many organizations working to promote health care internationally such as the Red Cross, and you will learn to identify challenges in global health and to propose solutions and examine program-specific proposals through real world examples. The course materials include lectures, readings, student presentations as well as a required textbook.

NU101 - Nursing FundamentalsKaplan University

Open Courseware

Registered Nurse (RN), ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing), healthcare

Course Description:

In this fundamentals class, you will examine the role of nurses within the context of the U.S. healthcare delivery system. Originally published in 2009, this introductory registered nurse (RN) online course has no prerequisites and is intended to provide you with basic knowledge of fundamental nursing concepts like conducting health assessments, evaluating patient nutrition and addressing ethical concerns in healthcare. As you examine the nursing process, you will develop skills in areas such as clinical judgment, problem solving, diagnostic reasoning and critical thinking as it relates to care plans and patient health.

Utilization of Nursing Research in Advanced PracticeUniversity of Michigan

Open Courseware

Healthcare, Medicine
Taught by: Prof. Huey-Ming Tzeng, Ph.D.

Course Description:

Originally presented in 2008, this nursing online course is intended for advanced nursing students and professionals working in the medical field who would like to expand their understanding implementing current research in nursing practice. You will cover both quantitative and qualitative research methods in the course, as well as practicing critiquing a research paper. Before taking this course, you should have completed a statistics course and two prerequisite nursing statistics classes.

NursingKaplan University

Open Courseware

Healthcare, Medicine

Course Description:

This online course, developed in 2010, provides you with a self-guided tutorial in the basic concepts of nursing care. You are introduced to patient care concepts, the importance of documentation and specialized topics such as wound care and oxygenation. The system guides you through readings and provides questions for reflection as well as quizzes to help you assess your learning. While this course is freely available to the public, you will need to obtain a copy of the textbook in order to use it properly.

Caring in hospitalsOpen University

Open Courseware

Patient Care, Healthcare

Course Description:

In this course, you will evaluate the types and levels of patient care typically offered in hospitals. As a means of gaining an understanding of the dynamics involved in patient care and overall patient satisfaction, you will examine a hospital case study that takes an in-depth look at patient care from the patient perspective. Originally published in 2011, there are no prerequisites for this online course, as it is intended to introduce students to the various roles involved in patient care within the context of hospitals and healthcare delivery systems.

Number for Nurses: DivisionThe University of Nottingham

Open Courseware

Mathematics, Pharmacology
Taught by: Professors Chris Ennew, Morgan Wynn

Course Description:

This nursing online course will teach you basic math operations like division and multiplication, as well as show you how to convert fractions. General nurses must have these skills, especially if they are responsible for regulating and distributing medication doses. Both undergraduates and graduate students can enroll in this course and there are no academic prerequisites, but you should have a solid background and enthusiasm for math.