Concepts are ordered and related within the curriculum systematically. The core knowledge of nursing theory, sociocultural theory, evidence-based nursing practice, health promotion, ethics, and health policy form the basis of the curriculum. Grounding in the core concepts prepares students to move through the program to the advanced practice core and specialty courses. The faculty believes that this sequencing of curricular content best enables students to acquire the knowledge, attitudes and abilities necessary for advanced practice in nursing in an increasingly complex health care environment (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 — Conceptual Model for the Graduate Program
Advanced Knowledge Base: Graduate education knowledge that builds upon the foundational nursing education and is informed by theory, evidence-based nursing practice, critical thinking, and humanistic values.
Leadership: The ability to influence, guide and instill vision in people in order to effect practice change in professional, social, political and ethical situations that affect clients and the nursing universe.
Decision Making for Practice: Selecting interventions and actions from alternatives that move patients/clients from a specified or desired outcome state in a clinical context of uncertainty.
The program at the graduate level is built upon and includes the following major conceptual areas:
Theory: Systematically organized information from nursing and related disciplines. Theory enables the individual to understand conceptual relationships, to rationally view and critically analyze predictable as well as unpredictable nursing practice situations, and to effectively act upon the nursing universe at an advanced level.
Evidence-Based Nursing Practice: The process by which nurses make practice decisions using the best available evidence, their clinical expertise, and patient preferences in the context of available resources.
Best available evidence: Findings from the highest quality research and/or other sources of evidence that are appropriately designed to answer a question relevant to nursing practice and forms the basis of therapeutic intervention. The type of evidence, and therefore what is “best”, depends on the nature of the question, activity and the purpose.
Clinical expertise: Knowledge that forms professional craft know-how that arises from formal as well as informal experiences and reflection upon those experiences, externalized to others, analyzed and critiqued.
Patient preferences: The relative value and meaning that patients place on varying health states that influence their autonomous choices regarding their healthcare.
Available resources: Sociocultural, economic and human resources coupled with the political will within the context that nurses deliver care.
Critical Thinking: The integration of a disposition toward inquiry with the processes of analyzing, evaluating and synthesizing relevant knowledge for the purpose of problem solving and developing creative approaches to nursing.
Humanistic Values: A belief in the worth and dignity of every person in our universe. A commitment to humanistic values in nursing encourages compassion, reasoning and a striving to address issues of social injustice in order to make the world a better place to live for all humans regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status.
Therapeutic Intervention: A rational and deliberate nursing action based on theory, best available evidence, clinical expertise, patient preferences and available resources performed to enhance or support health.
Communication: Dynamic process whereby participants transact ideas, information, and/or feelings through verbal, nonverbal, written or technological methods.
Role development: The process of attaining advanced practice in nursing role competencies/standards as defined by national organizations related to specific areas of specialization.