4 Reasons Why Nurses Need Liberal Arts Courses

Nursing is about more than technical skill and knowledge. An extraordinary nurse is also well-rounded, culturally competent, critically thoughtful and a masterful communicator.

The curriculum for the RN to BSN Online Option at Chamberlain incorporates liberal arts courses that can help nurses grow these competencies – and ultimately improve patient outcomes.

“At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about — that we can safely care for our patients no matter what role we’re in,” said Julia Mason-Jubb, DNP, RN, CNE, associate professor in the RN to BSN Online Option. “That’s why these educational pieces are so very important. It helps you become a leader and learn all the aspects and core values needed to be successful in improving patient care outcomes.”

We asked Dr. Mason-Jubb, as well as students and graduates on our Facebook page, why general education courses are so essential to nursing practice. Read on for the benefits that liberal arts courses can provide students:  

1. Encourages Critical Thinking

Understanding quantitative data and research is essential to nursing practice – and this is where a course like statistics can help.

“Nursing isn’t just doing something because it’s what we’re told or because that’s the way we’ve always done it,” Dr. Mason-Jubb said. “It’s looking at the evidence and finding research that is valid and reliable for what we’re doing in practice.”

The ability to think critically, ask questions, evaluate the situation and synthesize a solution is reinforced throughout the curriculum. Students can draw on learnings from courses like Quality Improvement, as well as the skills and knowledge from various other disciplines, to safely care for their patients in practice.

“With changes in healthcare happening daily in some scenarios, it’s important to always look at how we can give our patients their highest level of success,” Dr. Mason-Jubb said. “That really requires evaluation and pulling everything together.”

2. Opens Your Eyes

Chamberlain students and graduates reported that courses in transcultural nursing and religion were particularly eye-opening and changed the way they practiced.

“As nurses, we’re certainly not caring for one type of individual or one developmental group or one specific culture,” Dr. Mason-Jubb said. “It’s so vital in nursing to be culturally competent and to have an understanding of the needs of ALL patients and the families that we care for.”

From Facebook:

“Taking an elective on the Vietnam War helped me understand my patients who fought in that war and the struggle they encountered when they returned home. It helped me be a better nurse to those who served in that war.” – Darlene M.

“It should be compulsory that nurses in USA learn cultural diversity and religion. I know it seems like sometimes this just adds cost, but with a country that has such diversity, this should be a must. I loved that class. Personally, it helps to open one's eyes to other cultures and be more understanding.” – Salinda P.

“My class on religion really opened my eyes to different faiths and customs.” – Katie B.

“My perspective on some current event topics have changed. Cultural Diversity and Economics opened my eyes.” – Taraca F. 

“Cultural diversity and religion. These classes gave me a deeper appreciation about life and a deeper passion as a nurse.” – Sue X.

3. Makes You Well-Rounded

The primary goal of including liberal arts courses in the curriculum is to help make students well-rounded and balanced so that they are prepared to be successful in their nursing practice, says Dr. Mason-Jubb.

“All of our courses are designed to provide a well-balanced education where our nursing graduates can be culturally-competent nurses, leaders in their organizations and ideally change their sphere of the world,” she said.

From Facebook:

“Some have definitely helped make me more well-rounded or think from different perspectives such as philosophy and psychology.” – Eileen D.

“The ability to think outside the box. An appreciation for all walks of life. The ability to talk to people about more than medicine, reality TV, and the weather. The ability to connect with the world through art, music, literature, movement, and theory.” – Kimberly H.

4. Prepares You for Leadership

Among the leadership skills that nurses will pick up in the RN to BSN Option is the ability to communicate more meaningfully by strengthening written, oral and non-verbal skills. Courses like Advanced English Composition help students write at a higher level and build presentation skills, Dr. Mason-Jubb said.

“Our goal for all of our students really is for them to become leaders within their organization,” she said. “Between all of the liberal arts courses, they are building the skills they will need for leadership.”

Dr. Mason-Jubb can see the value of a well-balanced education from her own experience. She started out as an LPN and has now completed her doctoral work.

“Every degree that you earn changes your philosophy and perspective,” she said. “Thinking about going back for my BSN, it really did shift my thinking and begin preparing me for leadership roles.”

From Facebook:

“[Taking liberal arts courses] allows one to become proficient with expressing oneself verbally and in written form and also exposes one to the concepts of the arts and sciences so to better understand and advance the nursing profession.” – Donna C.

Bonus Reason: They’re Enjoyable!

Whether it awakened a new interest or acted as a tool for stress management, several of our graduates on Facebook found they just truly enjoyed liberal arts courses! 

“I have found a deeper interest in, and understanding of various forms of architecture and religions. I was not thrilled with the prospect of taking those 2 classes; but I really enjoyed them.” – Donna W.

“I found one to be an unexpected source of self-care. I had to get out and go to museums or concerts. It was a nice way to do something besides work and go to class!” – McKenna C.

“Depending on what the class is. ...it could be a great creative outlet and stress reducer.” – Jennifer T.

Learn more about the RN to BSN Option at Chamberlain.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program can be found at chamberlain.edu/rnbsndisclosure.

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