This fall, the School of Nursing, which is welcoming its largest freshman class since the 1980s, will implement a newly revised curriculum for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing in June, the revised BSN program includes new courses and will have focus areas in acute care, technology and ethics as well as a community-based component.
Since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, it has been estimated that approximately 32 million Americans will enter the health care system by 2019. “We are going to need 1.2 million more nurses in this country by 2020—with health care reform, we may even need more than that,” explained Dean of Nursing Dr. Mary Ellen Glasgow. “Nurses are in demand, and nursing is an attractive profession for young men and women for that reason.”
Led by a BSN Curriculum Committee, nursing faculty participated in a two-day retreat achieving consensus and direction for the curriculum changes, which included the addition of various courses. The nursing school’s curriculum committee examined the objectives outlined in the Affordable Care Act and also reviewed the recent Institute of Medicine’s report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, to provide some guidance.
“The Future of Nursing report critically examined the nursing profession and recommended what needs to happen to move forward in providing high-quality health care to all Americans,” explained Glasgow. “We decided that we want to provide our students with a variety of clinical specialties to better prepare them for clinical practice and ultimately the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Exam) exam.”
In addition, HESI (Health Education Systems, Inc.) exams—standardized and customized tests for nursing students—will be incorporated in each of the clinical courses to prepare them for the licensure exam.
The curriculum committee also found that more content was needed in the areas of women’s and pediatric health, behavioral health, critical care, leadership and gerontology. “While the former (BSN program) emphasized content in long-term care, chronic illness and community management of these areas, faculty believed that this content needed to be more integrated into the curriculum,” said Dr. Mark Crider, who led the BSN curriculum committee. “We want to prepare our students for what is needed now and for what is needed in the future. I think we have a great balance in the new curriculum.”
Overall, the revised curriculum includes an additional 3 credits while the amount of time nursing students spend in the acute-care setting has increased. “Students will get the acute-care focus so that they can apply theory to practice in acute care, and they will also have a community experience related to each specialty area,” said Glasgow. “It is going to be a very robust and contemporary curriculum, and I think it will give the students what they need with the variety of clinical experiences and the associated theory.”
Nursing faculty will vote in August on a revised curriculum for the Second Degree BSN program as well, with plans to implement it in 2014. Plans also include implementing a new online RN/BSN curriculum and a revised Doctor of Nursing Practice program in 2014.
“It is a big endeavor,” said Glasgow. “Our students will have the knowledge of the specialty areas with a heavy scientific focus in health—which is recommended in the Future of Nursing report—as well as courses related to liberal arts, technology, gerontology, evidence-based practice, and nursing ethics across the lifes span, which will help Duquesne nursing students make well-informed, sound decisions. We are obligated to prepare nurses for the present and future, and this curriculum is certainly going to meet that objective.”
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