Posted: December 29th, 2022
Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
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Curriculums are documents that are necessary to guide learning and the achievement of particular set out goals and objectives. All learning programs usually have a curriculum of some sort as a matter of course. This includes undergraduate nursing programs. One such program is the RN-BSN baccalaureate degree program at the Miami Dade College’s Benjamin Leon School of Nursing. The goal of this program is to enable associate degree nurses attain the more acceptable Bachelor of Science in Nursing baccalaureate.Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay. Expectations on the program curriculum are however many as would be expected. Most of them can be met, but some of them cannot; at least in the short term. Also important in the curriculum are the learning outcomes and the philosophical and underlying learning theories and their impact. Because of the unmet expectations, a quest for change is inevitable. To this end, it is crucial to plan for the curriculum changes that will assure that they are met. This is done by outlining the change theory to be used and the steps to be employed or followed to arrive at the desired change.
Key words: curriculum, outcomes, learning theory, change theory
An Analysis of the RN-BSN Baccalaureate Undergraduate Degree Program Curriculum at the Benjamin Leon School of Nursing, Miami Dade College (MDC)
The Miami Dade College Benjamin Leon School of Nursing RN-BSN Curriculum
A curriculum can be described as a well thought out document that is to be lived by students of a particular pedagogical program for the entire learning and training period (Thomas et al., 2016). The RN-BSN program at the Benjamin Leon School of Nursing at Miami Dade College is a baccalaureate degree course that upgrades existing practicing registered nurses with an Associate in Science (AS) Degree in Nursing to a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing or BSN (Miami Dade College, 2019). Its curriculum requires 125 credit hours, which include 12 credits obtained in “general education” before joining the course. Another 31 credits will also have come from “common prerequisites.” The 12 credits above are included in these 31 credits (Miami Dade College, 2019). These “common course prerequisites” responsible for the 31 credits above include: Anatomy and Physiology, Statistics, Chemistry, Microbiology, Psychology, Nutrition, Sociology, and Growth and Development. The total number of credits from general education achieved before joining the program is 36. The other 24 credits therefore come from subjects that include Mathematics, Humanities, Communications, and Natural Science (Miami Dade College, 2019).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
The curriculum spells out the core units in this upgrading baccalaureate degree program. These core units are responsible for a combined 30 credits. They include Professional Nursing, Culture, Community Health, Leadership and Management, and Globalization. And to complete the 125 total credits, there are 10 elective credits and 30 nursing knowledge validation credits (Miami Dade College, 2019). Some of the other criteria to be met before being awarded this BSN nursing degree are at least 2.5 cumulative GPA in coursework, at least 30 credits in the coursework, successful completion of all course units and prerequisites with a grade C or higher, and evidence of having finished the last 30 contact hours at the college (as opposed to being a part-time student up to the end) (Miami Dade College, 2019).
This curriculum at the MDC Benjamin Leon School of Nursing offers the option of being a full-time student taking four courses each semester (for a total of three semesters in an academic year), and two part-time options. The first part-time alternative offers three courses each semester for four semesters in an academic year; while the second choice proposes two courses each semester for a total of five semesters an academic year (Miami Dade College, 2019).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
This curriculum prides itself as the best at preparing professional nurses who are all-round, competent, and skilled; including in contemporary technologies that are crucial in quality health care delivery. The nurses have an international outlook, are aware of the global socio-cultural landscape, and are also able to practice in any culturally diverse setting anywhere by appreciating these differences. Lastly, the BSN nursing products of this curriculum are trained for and fit for not only senior management roles, but also further postgraduate education in accredited programs (Miami Dade College, 2019).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
Societal, Professional, Cultural and Other Expectations on the Curriculum
Curriculum design in nursing education, as in all other professional fields, normally takes into consideration a plethora of expectations from various standpoints. This is because nurse professionals work for and with diverse people, in varied communities and settings, and in sync with other health professionals (DeSimone, 2006). It is therefore virtually impossible to logically expect any curriculum to meet all of these many expectations from the different quarters. Given this fact; the goal of faculty when designing curricula is therefore to meet the greatest number of these expectations possible. To achieve this according to Lippe and Carter (2017), faculty requires to undertake a proper needs evaluation process using a tried and tested paradigm like the CIPP model (context, input, process, and product). As is to be expected, this RN-BSN curriculum at Miami Dade College has also met most of these expectations with only a few of them inevitably remaining unaddressed.
The society at large expects professional nurses to provide the same level of quality health care to everyone devoid of discrimination, whether concious or not (Thornton & Persaud, 2018). The discrimination could be racial, religious, or based on sexual orientation and so on. This societal expectation is aptly met by this RN-BSN curriculum right from main tenets of its conceptual framework. These principles in the framework are clearly spelt out and include effective communication, nursing practice from an international perspective, use of evidence-based interventions, and critical thought processes amongst others (Miami Dade College, 2019). Critical thought processing has been identified as a cornerstone in nursing curricula, as opposed to mere recall of facts or memorization (DeSimone, 2006). Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.The society also looks forward to the nursing curriculum recognizing “social determinants of health” or SDOH and using that knowledge to strategise on how to provide equal care to everyone (Thornton & Persaud, 2018). This is met by this RN-BSN curriculum from not only its conceptual framework of “health care delivery systems,” but also the program objectives which put emphasis on cultural diversity and a global approach to nursing practice (Miami Dade College, 2019). This way, the appreciation of different global factors and cultural differences will enable the RN-BSN graduate from Miami Dade College to recognize the social determinants of health (SDOH). The World Health Organization (WHO) looks at the SDOH as the totality of factors that surrounds the existence of a person, and which has a profound influence on their health. They include globalization and urbanization, income disparities, race, religion, gender, and social class (Thornton & Persaud, 2018). To fully meet this societal expectation, this curriculum has gone so far as to include a whole course unit on “Globalization of Nursing Practice, NUR 4667” (Miami Dade College, 2019).
There are also expectations placed on the curriculum from the nursing profession and the health care system as a whole. These bodies expect professional nurses to be change agents, to use effective communication, to educate the community on disease prevention and healthy living, and to deliver the best and safest care possible to all (Thomas et al., 2016). This has been met by this curriculum. As stated above, communication is one of the key ingredients of this curriculum’s conceptual framework. In its philosophical underpinning, the curriculum also recognizes the professional BSN nurse as an influencer of the society. Furthermore, the RN-BSN degree program objectives/ outcomes in this curriculum also emphasize the ethico-legal and socio-economic considerations made in the delivery of healthcare by nurses, in a diverse global community setting (Miami Dade College, 2019).
The nursing profession and healthcare system also expect the RN-BSN curriculum to produce professional nurses that will put the patient first in everything that they do, will use only evidence-based therapies and interventions, and will usefully employ contemporary technologies in the delivery of quality health care for all (Thomas et al., 2016).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay. This RN-BSN nursing curriculum at Miami Dade College has also met this expectation. In its conceptual framework, “evidence-based practice” is one of the key cornerstones of this baccalaureate degree. It requires the nurse graduate to critically analyse and then utilise qualitatively and quantitatively tested interventions by making use of studies. This is also reiterated in the program outcomes which require the utilization of the same effective tried and tested research-based approaches to further the nursing profession (Miami Dade College, 2019). Finally, the health care system and the nursing profession at large expect the nurse professional to be a person of high education and unrivalled critical thinking ability. This expectation stems from the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), both of which have previously recommended higher entry levels for nurses – a baccalaureate for bedside nurses and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for certified registered nurse practitioners or CRNPs (Keating, 2015). This expectation has also been met by this RN-BSN curriculum, through its very implementation. The baccalaureate program targets working professionals with only an associate degree for upgrading to the preferred Bachelor of Science in Nursing or BSN, which has been shown to produce better outcomes for patients (Miami Dade College, 2019; Anbari, 2015).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
All professional academic programs must be accredited for recognition. These accreditation standards also place some expectations on the curriculum. Some of these are that the curriculum must have the desired outcomes clearly outlined and goals clearly defined. It must also not only be competency-based, but the number of contact hours or credits must also be clearly spelt out (Thomas et al., 2016). All this has been addressed by this curriculum, with clear specific outcomes presented and the required credits spelt out (Miami Dade College, 2019).
The nurse student, by virtue of their needs and characteristics, also place quite some expectations on the nursing curriculum. Being adult learners already working and with families but only out to improve their professional qualifications; these students expect a flexible curriculum. Besides attending class, they must also continue to work to support their families and pay their fees (Anbari, 2015). They have to balance school, work, family, and their social life. This expectation has luckily been met by this particular Miami Dade College RN-BSN program curriculum. It has not only provided a flexible option of a four-semester part-time regime, but also given yet another part-time option of five semesters (Miami Dade College, 2019).
Lastly but not least are the cultural competence knowledge and skills expectations. Professional nurses are expected to be impartial, color-blind, fair, safe, just, and evidence-driven for all people. This is regardless of where they may practice on the globe. The RN-BSN nursing curriculum at Miami Dade College has addressed this by repetitively stressing it in the expected program outcomes, the conceptual framework, the philosophical basis, and the course units themselves (Miami Dade College, 2019).
As stated from the beginning, it is close to impossible for a curriculum to meet all the expectations placed upon it. For this curriculum, some of these expectations that it has not met include accreditation and student expectations (Anbari, 2015). One of the requirements to graduate, for instance, is that the nurse student must complete the last 30 hours of coursework instruction at the college (Miami Dade College, 2019). This is understandably inconveniencing, given the fact stated above that these are adult learners who are working and also have families.Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay. To abide by this, they probably have to ask for time off from work; which may not be possible. The other unmet expectation is on the accreditation front. According to Anbari (2015) there are many disparate RN-BSN programs that are not standardized. They are also allegedly not well regulated by the respective state nursing authorities, and accreditation is inferred through accreditation of the “host school” (Anbari, 2015). Given this fact, this RN-BSN program curriculum then becomes just another of the many disparate ones around the country.Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
Expected Program Outcomes
The expected program outcomes for this Curriculum include that the nurses will at the end of the course:
• Apply knowledge gained in a diverse cultural and global environment;
• Use only tested approaches to intervene;
• Will be aware of the state and federal laws governing practice and ethics, and also the social and cultural factors defining their patients;
• Undertake to be a responsible nursing professional and commit to continue the learning process even after graduating (Miami Dade College, 2019).
The curriculum design and implementation of this program facilitates the attainment of these outcomes, except for the mandatory final 30 hour college coursework. This places a strain on the adult learners (Anbari, 2015). Save for accreditation expectations, these outcomes meet the nursing profession and health care system, and societal expectations of a nurse at the baccalaureate level. The unmet accreditation expectations have already been outlined above.
The expected outcomes in this curriculum are specific to the intended targets (the student nurses and prospective employers) in many ways. For the nurses, the curriculum recognizes that they are not entirely fresh in the field. They are actually practicing nurses. To this end, the outcomes stress integration of existing nursing knowledge in the learning, application of nursing practice essentials, ethics and legality in practice, and communication and professionalism (Miami Dade College, 2019). All these are areas that these mature learners are familiar with already. On the part of the prospective employers, the outcomes are specific to them in that they outline to them just how the graduates will be safe, intelligent, and good at critical appraisal of situations (Miami Dade College, 2019).
The outcomes were measurable to a large extent, as the timeframe for completion is captured in each of the semesters depending on the mode of study chosen. This can either be full-time or part-time. Achievement of outcomes is measurable by the credits attained in each of the course units covering the particular outcome (Miami Dade College, 2019). The learner objectives in the course “Globalization of Nursing Practice” (NUR 4667) were specific enough for faculty and students to measure progress toward the expected terminal outcomes. The program objectives were explicit on the fact that practice for these BSN graduates will be based on a global community approach. The continuous assessments and term papers will then enable evaluation of progress towards attaining a minimum of a grade C of 77% in the final outcome (Miami Dade College, 2019).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
The relationship between the terminal outcomes and the objectives is that the roadmap to the terminal outcomes is the objectives. In other words, it is the objectives that provide a roadmap for the attainment of the terminal outcomes.
Philosophical Approach/ Learning Theories as the Foundation for the Curriculum
The philosophical underpinning of this curriculum is clearly stated and it is that the nurse student will be a critical thinker in a multicultural and international setting through undertaking learning that is “accessible, affordable, and of the highest quality” (Miami Dade College, 2019, p. 6). The RN-BSN program will also enable provision of more advanced nursing education. It also recognizes that there is a reciprocal relationship between a person and the environment and that patients are persons with love ones. Also, there should be appreciation of the socio-cultural differences that define everyone (Miami Dade College, 2019). Also, nursing is a quest to prevent sickness and promote well being. In illness, its goal is to engineer a return to wellness. The nursing field is part and parcel of the health care system, using the latest evidence-based standards of care. Social interactions also influence and impact nurse education while the graduate baccalaureate nurse abides by the code of ethics and makes independent decisions competently. Finally, the BSN nurse will be well prepared for the world and globalization; and for further postgraduate education (Miami Dade College, 2019).
On the other hand, the learning theories that served as a foundation for this curriculum include behaviourism or stimulus-response theory, social constructivism or socio-cultural learning theory, and cognitive development theories (Aliakbari et al., 2015; Mugisha & Mugimu, 2015; Saylor, 2017). In behaviourism, a discernible response to a stimulus produces learning, in cognitive theory learning occurs from the interface between past experiences and current ones, and in social constructivism learning occurs from the sum of interpersonal interactions from people of diverse background (Mugisha & Mugimu, 2015).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
The school mission of MDC Benjamin Leon School of Nursing is to prepare nurse professionals for a lifetime of education in an increasingly dissimilar worldwide community. Its vision on the other hand is to be a world centre of evidence-centred nursing practical education with a world view and cultural appreciation (Miami Dade College, 2019). It is undeniable, looking at the school philosophy and the underlying learning theories, that both beautifully match the institutional and school mission and vision. The program philosophy talks of continuous learning, a world view, appreciation of diversity, and evidence-driven practice (Miami Dade College, 2019). This is the same thing that the mission and vision of the school stipulate. The underlying learning theories on their part explain the processes by which all these aspects described in the philosophy and the mission and vision will be learnt. In all, therefore, the underlying philosophy and learning theories in the curriculum are in perfect alignment with the MDC mission and vision.Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
Possible Curriculum Change Areas
The three possible areas in this curriculum that may be changed to bring it more in line with the expectations of stakeholders and the public are ‘final 30-hour rule,’ the foreign language requirement, and the general disparities with accreditation (Miami Dade College, 2019). The rationale behind overhauling the requirement for students to do their final 30 hours of coursework exclusively at the college is because it disrupts the lives of these students who are mature adults with other responsibilities. The foreign language requirement on the other hand is an unnecessary burden and should be optional. This is because it is rare that you will find a nurse working alone without a fellow staff member who understands the foreign language in question. As for accreditation, it has been seen that the RN-BSN degree programs across America are not neither uniform nor well regulated. There is therefore need for advocacy and alignment of all the disparate programs with one central accrediting authority. The change theory approach that would be adopted to effect these changes would be the Lewin change theory (Mitchell, 2013). In this theory, the steps that would be used to undertake the change are unfreezing (assessing and identifying the change area), moving (initiation, implementation, and evaluation of the change process), and refreezing (terminating the process after successful change) (Mitchell, 2013).Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
The RN-BSN baccalaureate program at Miami Dade College’s Benjamin Leon School of Nursing is a bridging program for practicing associate degree holders. Like with any other professional program, its curriculum is confronted with many expectations from different stakeholders. This particular curriculum meets an overwhelming majority of these expectations, except in the areas of accreditation and student nurse needs. In the whole country, accreditation of this program is not uniform and this needs to be addressed. Also, some of the rules like the one requiring the students to be on campus full time for the last 30 hours are stressful and unnecessary. This is because the students are mature people with other obligations. The learning outcomes are however specific, measurable, and time-bound. The philosophical underpinning and learning theories underlying the curriculum also match well with the institutional mission and vision. Finally, because no document is perfect, three of the changes that this particular curriculum can undergo are on accreditation and standardization, requirement of foreign language competence, and the rule requiring full time on-campus study for the last 30 hours of the course instruction.Nursing Curriculum Analysis Essay.
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