Nursing elective courses: How to expand knowledge and diversify skills

Elective courses for nurse trainees have gained prominence in the last few decades. As the name suggests, these are courses that augment the core nursing curriculum. They came into prominence in the last century as the role of nurses evolved. 

Today, because nurses are expected to be knowledgeable in many different fields, students are encouraged to think about their electives carefully and select those that will give them an advantage in the job market. 

The University of Indianapolis offers many electives for nursing students to choose from. Students who take a course like the online BSN-DNP AGPCNP program, for example, have a whole range of electives at their disposal. If they plan a career in nursing management, there is a slew of elective management courses available to them. If they want to pursue IT in healthcare, there are courses designed to equip them with the right skills.

As you choose electives there are important considerations to keep in mind. The first is that whatever you choose should complement the courses you are already studying. 

If you choose a course that isn’t adjunct, you waste valuable time and resources that could be spent studying something useful. 

Below are additional considerations to keep in mind:

Choose electives that play on your strengths and interests

If you have an interest in a certain area, choosing an elective within it makes it easy to learn. It will not feel like a chore, and studying for exams becomes that much easier. 

Choose courses that will make you a better nurse

The whole point of elective courses is to make you a better, more knowledgeable professional. 

As you choose courses think about what they can add to what you are learning in nursing school. 

A nursing student can also take an elective like nutrition because it expands their ability to care for patients.

Talk to your career counselors before selecting electives

Your career counselor has plenty of experience with helping students choose useful electives. They can offer good advice. 

Before you finalize your selections get their input. Let them know what your career aspirations are, and what other courses you are taking.

Take courses that impart management skills

You will never go wrong with these especially if you plan to rise to the level of a nurse manager. You can learn how to manage people, strategic planning, strategic thinking, decision making and other management topics. 

Make sure to take an IT course

There will be a need for IT skills wherever you work. Many nurses don’t imagine that they will use computers once they are employed, but the reality on the ground is rather different. 

Not only do nurses have to upload patient charts and records, but they also have to coordinate with healthcare providers. They have to track prescriptions and schedule patient visits. 

All these things are done using computers, and those who have some knowledge of the different systems have an edge over those who don’t. 

What electives are recommended for nurses?

Other electives have proven useful to nurses over the years:

  • Psychology – mental health and addiction treatment are an important part of healthcare. Nurses with some knowledge in this field have diverse employment options. 
  • Sociology – this is an important course because it teaches students about their communities and their patients. Understanding their interactions can be helpful when caring for patients. 
  • Critical thinking – nurses are critical thinkers. They are always solving problems, and they often find themselves in complex situations that require decision-making on the fly. 
  • Pharmacology – this is probably one of the most important electives that nurses can study. It gives an introduction to medications, their uses and their side effects. 
  • Telehealth – this is a growing field and many nursing schools haven’t incorporated it into their curriculums. However, if you co-opt it as an elective, it will give you a serious edge over those who do not know telehealth. 

As you choose electives don’t just think in the short-term. Think about where you would like your career to eventually go. If you plan to become a nurse manager, choose courses that support that aspiration. 


Nursing electives are an important part of nursing school. They are designed to impart skills that make you a better, more knowledgeable nurse. A combination of the right electives, together with your nursing school courses can help you get your dream job.