How Do General Education Courses Support a Nursing Degree?

Nurses require a broad knowledge base to provide holistic and patient-centered care. General education courses are critical for nursing because they expose FNU students to a diverse range of disciplines— from the social and the hard sciences to the humanities — which lays the foundation for higher learning. As part of a 2-year degree program, these courses will expand your understanding of the world and make you a better nurse. The greater your knowledge base, the more you will grow as a person and a professional.

What General Education Courses Supplement an Associate Degree in Nursing?

There are a few general education courses taken in the ASN program. These courses include:

English Composition

Courses in English composition help nurses develop effective written communication skills. Topics include:

  • Critical reading — how to analyze texts, identify main ideas, recognize rhetorical devices, and interpret complex ideas.
  • The writing process — an overview of drafting, revising, and editing text, emphasizing the importance of organizing your thoughts and structuring your writing to improve accuracy and clarity.
  • Grammar — an extension of what you learned in high school, this course focuses on sentence structure and how to avoid common writing errors.
  • Style and tone — how to adapt your writing style to appeal to different audiences and use language effectively to convey your ideas.
  • Rhetorical strategies — persuasive techniques, such as appeals to emotion, that make communication more compelling.
  • Research and documentation — the basics of conducting research, including evaluating and accurately citing sources.

Fundamentals of Oral Communications

Oral communication courses focus on developing public speaking and interpersonal communication skills. Students explore:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication — the use of tone, volume, facial expressions, eye contact and body language to enhance effective verbal communication.
  • Audience analysis — tailoring messages to an audience’s specific expectations, interests, and knowledge levels.
  • Speech preparation and delivery — researching topics, organizing content, developing messages, and refining delivery techniques.
  • Visual aids — the use of PowerPoint slides, videos, and demonstrations to enhance messaging.
  • Persuasive speaking — techniques for delivering persuasive speeches, including crafting compelling arguments, and using evidence effectively.
  • Critical listening — how to listen actively, identify persuasive techniques, assess the credibility of speakers, and provide constructive feedback to peers.
  • Interpersonal communication — a review of interpersonal communication skills including active listening, empathy, mirroring, and conflict resolution.

Biomedical Ethics

Biomedical ethics courses examine common ethical dilemmas in the healthcare field, including the complex moral issues professionals encounter when making treatment decisions. Key concepts include:

  • Ethical principles — students discuss the fundamental ethical principles that guide medical decision-making, such as autonomy, beneficence, informed consent, confidentiality and doing no harm (the Hippocratic Oath).
  • Advance directives — the legal and ethical framework for living wills and durable powers of attorney for healthcare.
  • Resource allocation — the fair distribution of healthcare resources, from access to experimental treatments to organ transplants.
  • Research ethics — the ethical and practical dilemmas inherent in medical research, including the protection of study participants, consent in research, institutional review processes, and conflicts of interest.
  • Emerging ethical concerns — the ethical implications of advancing technology, such as genetic testing, gene editing, and artificial intelligence in healthcare.
  • Global perspectives — how cultural norms, beliefs and values influence ethical decision-making in cross-cultural healthcare settings.
  • Professional ethics — an examination of the codes of ethics and professional conduct specific to healthcare professions.

College Algebra

College algebra courses take the high school math curriculum one step further by introducing topics that will improve your practical problem-solving skills as a nurse. You will advance your knowledge and ability in:

  • Algebraic operations — a review of algebraic operations, such as simplifying expressions, solving equations and working with variables, coefficients, and exponents.
  • Exponents and logarithms — how to simplify and solve expressions involving exponents and apply logarithmic properties to solve equations.
  • Functions and graphs — students explore linear, quadratic, exponential, polynomial and logarithmic functions, learning how to analyze and graph key features, such as intercepts, domain, and range.
  • Systems and matrices —systems of linear equations and how to solve them through substitution and elimination. Students learn how to perform matrix operations, find inverses, and solve systems using matrix equations.
  • Coordinate geometry — a primer on coordinate geometry, including the Cartesian coordinate system and graphing equations on a coordinate plane. Students will learn how to plot points using the slope, distance, midpoint, and equations of lines.
  • Mathematical reasoning — students will learn how to analyze problems, select problem-solving strategies, and apply algebraic concepts to arrive at solutions to real-world problems.


Microbiology is the study of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Students investigate:

  • Microbe structure and function — the anatomy and physiology of microorganisms, from cell membranes and organelles to metabolism and reproduction.
  • Microbial diversity — the classification and identification of different types of microorganisms, their characteristics, and their ecological functions.
  • Microbe control — how microbes proliferate, including the factors that influence growth rates. Students will advance their knowledge of sterilization techniques, disinfectants, antibiotics, and other methods used to inhibit microbial spread.
  • Microbial ecology — how microorganisms interact with each other and their environment, including symbiotic relationships and microbial communities in the soil, water, and the human body.
  • Medical microbiology — students will discover how microorganisms cause diseases in humans. Topics include pathogenic microorganisms, modes of transmission, immune response to infections and the treatment of infectious diseases.
  • Applied microbiology — how microorganisms are used in food production, waste management, biofuel development, genetic engineering, and pharmaceutical production.
  • Laboratory procedures — hands-on techniques for isolating microorganisms, as well as biosafety, hazardous material handling, and emergency protocols.


Chemistry is the study of matter and its properties and is a fundamental science that plays a vital role in the nursing field. This course covers:

  • Atomic structure — an exploration of the structure of atoms, subatomic particles, elements, isotopes, and the periodic table.
  • Molecular structure — how atoms bond together to become molecules. Students will gain an understanding at chemical bonds, molecular geometry, and the properties of compounds.
  • States of matter — the different states of matter, including solids, liquids, and gases, and how they function.
  • Acids and bases — students learn about pH, acid-base theories, and acid buffers.
  • Chemical reactions — reaction types, including acid-base, redox reactions, and precipitation reactions.
  • Thermodynamics — a brief examination of energy changes in chemical reactions, including endothermic and exothermic effects.
  • Organic chemistry — an introduction to the study of carbon compounds, their properties, and their nomenclature.
  • Analytic techniques — the methods and scientific equipment used to study chemical reactions.

Human Growth and Development

This foundational nursing course focuses on physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes throughout the human lifespan and will broaden your understanding of medicine. Concepts include:

  • Prenatal development — an examination of prenatal development, including fertilization, embryo formation, fetal growth, and influential factors, such as genetics, environmental exposures, and maternal health.
  • Infancy and early childhood — a review of the physical, cognitive, and emotional development that occurs during the infancy and early childhood periods. Topics include theories of development and developmental milestones, such as motor development, language acquisition, and cognitive abilities.
  • Middle childhood and adolescence — students will acquire advanced knowledge of childhood development, examining the changes that occur between ages six and 18, from the development of self-identity and moral reasoning to puberty and the emotional impact of peer relationships and family dynamics.
  • Adulthood — students explore theories of adult development, such as career growth, intimate relationships, parenthood, and the challenges of aging.
  • Cultural and environmental influences — how culture and the environment shape human development. Concepts include the impact of cultural norms, personal values, religious beliefs, socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity.
  • Practical applications — future nurses will understand how human development can be applied to education, healthcare, parenting and governmental policymaking, including public health initiatives.

College Study Skills

College makes many students long for the easier days of high school. Nursing programs are, however, intense, and as an adult, you also have new life responsibilities to navigate. Study skills courses give you an edge, providing the tools you need to improve your academic performance. Students discuss:

  • Time management — how to prioritize tasks, create schedules and set realistic study goals. You will learn to manage your time more effectively by making to-do lists, limiting distractions, breaking tasks into smaller chunks, and avoiding procrastination.
  • Note-taking techniques — note-taking will help you capture and retain information from lectures and reading. The course covers note-taking strategies, such as organization, outlining, concept mapping, and annotation.
  • Active learning — how to better understand course material by engaging with peers and instructors in class. Students learn how to participate actively in class discussions by asking questions, seeking clarifications, and sharing ideas.
  • Critical thinking — how to analyze information, evaluate arguments and think critically about course material. You will also learn problem-solving and decision-making strategies that will help effectively streamline your studying efforts.
  • Memory techniques and mnemonics — mnemonic devices, memory strategies, and visualization techniques that will improve information retention and recall.
  • Information literacy — how to find and use information resources, including libraries, databases, and online research tools.
  • Self-evaluation — students learn to identify their strengths and weaknesses by reflecting on their study habits and academic progress. They will also explore strategies for the self-motivation and self-care required to meet the rigorous demands of college coursework.
  • Test-taking strategies — how to improve test performance using proven test-taking strategies. Topics include study methods and resources, test types, and time management.

How Do General Education Courses Support a Nursing Degree?

General education courses reinforce the concepts in core classes, providing nurses with advanced knowledge upon which to build their careers. They instill:

Broad-Based Knowledge

General education courses introduce nursing students to a broad range of topics that relate to every aspect of their practice. Through a deeper examination of subjects such as chemistry, for example, will improve a nurse’s ability to troubleshoot medication issues.

Unlike practical nurses who perform basic tasks under supervision, RNs are expected to problem-solve quickly and competently. General education courses expand their understanding of nursing concepts during their study and into their careers.

Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Effective communication is the key to successful nursing practices. As a healthcare professional, you need to read, write, and express yourself confidently. Whether you are writing a nurse’s note or talking to a patient about lifestyle changes, the skills you acquire in English composition and oral communication skills will improve your ability to convey your thoughts and connect with others persuasively.

Critical Thinking Skills

Coursework in logic, philosophy and ethics sharpen a nurse’s ability to analyze data, think critically, and make evidence-based decisions. These skills are essential for prioritizing care and responding to challenging situations.

Cultural Competency

Understanding diverse cultures, values, and beliefs is crucial for nurses who provide care to patients from various backgrounds. Courses in the humanities, such as bioethics, help nurses develop the cultural competency necessary to provide inclusive and diverse patient-centered care.

Professional Responsibility

Nurses require an informed framework upon which to make ethical decisions. General education courses introduce students to the codes of ethics designed by professional organizations. But more so, they help cultivate a sense of morality and professional responsibility to patients over self by shaping who nurses are and not just what they do.

Evidence-based Practice

General science and mathematics courses lay the groundwork for evidence-based nursing. Research literacy is essential for nurses to evaluate current literature, apply best practices, and participate in research projects to improve patient care outcomes.

Lifelong Learning Habits

Florence Nightingale once said, “We must never consider ourselves finished, nurses. We must be learning all of our lives.” General education courses foster a love for life-long earning that inspires professional inquiry, cultivates curiosity, and promotes intellectual growth.

Professional Collaboration

Healthcare is a team sport, so it is imperative to acquire a basic knowledge of other disciplines. While coordinate geometry is not something nurses use every day, this discipline is important in the radiology and oncology departments. Having a broader knowledge base will make better nurses and better citizens..

Personal Stewardship

Stewardship is your sense of responsibility to the community. General education courses are critical for instilling personal stewardship in students by promoting a sense of responsibility, ethical awareness, and involvement in social issues.

Final Thoughts

Nursing education much more than memorizing facts. FNU’s ASN Program provides students with a  deeper understanding of the concepts and principles that define the field. This depth of learning requires time for reflection, critical thinking, and application. General education courses support the process by promoting engagement with the world around you.

Want to Learn More?

The purpose of the Associate of Science in Nursing program at Florida National University is to provide quality nursing education to a culturally, socially, and ethnically diverse community. The program achieves this mission by preparing the graduates for employment at entry-level registered nursing positions.

If you are interested in nursing, let Florida National University answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to learn more about our ASN program.