Choosing a minor in nursing is a little bit of a sticky topic.
Some nursing schools allow you to choose a minor as a part of your degree (or even require it), while others have a rigorous curriculum that would make choosing a minor nearly impossible. Some nursing degrees are only 2 years (ADN), while others are 4 years (BSN). In the 2 year program, you probably won’t have a minor, and many 4 year degree programs do not let you choose a minor either (mine didn’t).
We recently had a great question about selecting a minor in Nutrition:
I really appreciate your informative website, as it has answered many questions that I have about the field of Nursing. An article suggestion that I would like to make would be to write an article about gaining a nutrition minor, along with your degree. I have questions surrounding the requirements, since nutrition fascinates me. Thank you for your time,
Minoring in Nutrition In a Nursing Program
Thanks for your question Shawn.
Nutrition is indeed a very interesting topic, as it affects us all. Not only is it important to monitor the quantity of food, but also the quality. I would also say that nutrition is complimentary to just about any health profession. We are what we eat. As someone once said, we dig our own graves with our forks! Another person once quipped, “I eat on half of my salary, the doctor eats on the other half.” So nutrition is definitely a vital part of our health.
When I got my BSN in nursing, the college I attended did not require or recommend choosing a minor as a part of the regular curriculum. In fact, to do so would have meant that I had to take additional classes on top of my already full-time schedule (with clinicals and the whole thing). I had a friend who chose a minor anyway, but she had to take summer classes to get it done.
What makes it a little tricky, however, is that nursing schools can differ quite a bit on how they handle the issue of a minor. Some may require a minor, others may simply allow it (but not force it), while others really don’t have the curriculum set up in a way to make it easy to pick a minor (although there still may be ways to obtain a minor or degree in nutrition).
If I was guessing, I’d say the majority of nursing schools don’t have a minor built-in to the curriculum. The reason is pretty self simple: In your last semester or two, you’ll be busy with clinicals, practicums, and classwork. That can be enough to be a VERY busy schedule alone. I think most nursing schools recognize how hard this can be, and therefore, usually don’t require a minor.
So my first bit of advice would be to really shop around and see if the local nursing schools in your area even allow a minor in the first place. Most of the local universities or schools should have their entire sample curriculum on their website. Having said that, here are a few tips for you based on each scenario:
- Nursing Schools that allow minors–If the nursing school you select does allow/encourage you to select a minor, then you’re all set. You can then choose nutrition (assuming the same school offers it), and there should be no issues. Again, you’ll definitely want to shop around for local nursing schools, and perhaps even schedule a time to speak with a class adviser before you enroll (usually free).
- Nursing Schools that allow minors–If your nursing school doesn’t require a minor, but does allow you to do it, then you may have to take additional classes on top of your already full nursing school classes. One strategy to do this is that you can go full time, but only take part-time nursing class loads. The other option is that you could take summer classes (like my friend did), or just stretch out the length of time it will take to graduate.
- Nursing Schools that Don’t Allow Minors–If a nursing school doesn’t offer a minor at all, you may see if they would allow you to “double major.” In this scenario, you’d major in both nursing and nutrition. It will usually take an extra year or so, but you can often do this. Another option would be, of course, to find another nursing school. Or you could go back to get some sort of associates degree in nutrition and do things that way.
The bottom line is this: There is more than one way to skin a cat, and you have a lot of options regarding how you could obtain a minor (or some degree/certification) in nutrition along with your nursing program. Ultimately, you’ll have to see what’s offered locally, and then weigh the pros and cons of each scenario and see how it impacts your finances, goals, and so forth.
It may take a little more money and time, but it can definitely be done.
What Would Be the Requirements of Minoring in Nutrition?
If the nursing program allows for a minor, then the curriculum will be divided into nursing classes and nutritional classes. Most BSN (4 year programs) are going to require around 110-130 credit hours for graduation, with each class being about 2-4 credits each (most are 3 credits). A minor will usually only encompass about 27 credits of the program, while nursing will make up the bulk of it. You will also have a general education curriculum in most 4 year programs, which will take about 27-54 credit hours or so.
Again, its hard to say with any certainty, because each nursing school operates a bit differently. The way my nursing school was set up, I took my general educational classes in the first 2 years, along with a few lower level nursing courses. The last 2 years were pretty much focused on nursing almost exclusively, with clinicals and class work.
Thanks so much for your question, and may God bless you with your future career.