Beginning in June 2012, undergraduate education at the College of Nursing will have a new edge—a curricular framework built on knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs) associated with six essential competencies for health care professionals: patient-centered care, teamwork and collaboration, quality, safety, evidence-based practice and nursing informatics.
The changes were inspired by significant calls for reform in nursing education, including: the Institute of Medicine's report “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health,” the American Association of Colleges of Nursing The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Profession Nursing Practice, and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation.
“It was not a tweaking of an existing curriculum,” says Professor Gayle Preheim, director of the baccalaureate nursing program. “The goal was to make major revisions that build on the success of the program but address some of the emerging issues in this complex and chaotic time in health care.”
Students engage in highly interactive teaching and learning experiences designed to increase their ability to think critically and apply their understanding of nursing concepts. This learning regimen integrates classroom concepts with clinical experience, state-of-the-art simulated patient care experiences, seminars with patient mentors, and inter-professional education with students in other professional disciplines.
“Based on the most recent IOM report and the new essentials for the bachelor’s curriculum, faculty designed the curriculum to have much more application,” says Professor Paula Meek, chair of the Curriculum Revision Committee. “Application will begin in the early stages in a very different way than it has been—it won’t be reciting knowledge. Then it will progress to even more clinical, so students really demonstrate how they will apply their knowledge. We’re expecting a higher level from the very beginning; students then take their knowledge to clinical in a much more clear way.”
This learn/apply model, incorporated throughout the program of study, is designed to enhance students’ clinical reasoning and decision making skills.
“Our affiliated clinical partners have been and continue to be vital to development of the curriculum,” says Preheim. “They have helped us develop learning assessment tools and new types of clinical learning experiences. They help in the evaluation of how well changes are going and make recommendations for modification. The collaboration between practice and education is more important than ever.”
Says Meek: “We believe that this [curricular model] is the best way to meet the IOM’s future nursing perspective and to also meet the demands of our clinical partners as to what they’re expecting from nurses in the future.”