Program Mission, Goals and Objectives
Conceptual Framework and Organizational Structure
The program of study leading to the M.S. in Nursing degree prepares nurses for roles as advanced practice nurses, with an option to prepare for certification as nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners. Each role requires completion of a foundational core, representing content common to the advanced study of nursing practice; a role component, representing content specific to the selected role; and a role support component, providing practicum experiences for transition into the selected role.
The curricular design assumes that education for the advanced practice of nursing requires substantial clinical experiences in aspects of the selected role, supervised by professional health care providers who have education and experience in the role, and occurring in a variety of settings. Clinical practicum experiences in the program enable students to develop clinical experiences that meet course objectives as well as their own specific learning needs and interests. The approach to clinical practice allows for flexibility in the time and places in which clinical experiences occur.
Preparation for the advanced practice of nursing rests on a foundation of generalized knowledge and practice common to all roles. The M.S. in Nursing program addresses the following content areas as foundational to the advanced study of nursing: the theoretical bases of nursing practice; the contemporary issues encountered by the masters-prepared practitioner within the nursing profession and the broad health care field; critical thinking in the application of knowledge and skills to the identification and analysis of patient problems and their resolution through the development of clinical expertise and diagnostic reasoning ability; and the utilization of research and the appropriate application of the research process to the identification, analysis, and resolution of practice problems.
The approach to these areas of study is eclectic, offering students alternative conceptualizations of the field as a basis for the analysis and critique of extant practice, theory, and research; the generation of creative alternatives to present approaches to practice; and the formulation of personal conceptual interpretations of nursing as a guide to practice, all within the context of a rapidly changing health care environment.
Advanced Practice Roles
The advanced practice of nursing may proceed through direct care, or blended roles. Direct care roles involve management of the health care of a caseload of clients, for example, as nurse practitioner. Blended roles combine elements of the direct care and a mediated role approach, as with the clinical nurse specialist.
As students move toward completing the M.S. in Nursing program, they are helped to synthesize and apply curricular content to fulfilling their selected role. All students complete a substantial clinical practicum in which they enact all aspects of the selected role under the guidance of a qualified clinical preceptor. Seminar sessions address common places in each of the roles and promote sharing the experience and perspective of students engaged in these different roles.
Working with individuals and groups the graduate of the masters in nursing program will:
- Use evidence-based nursing interventions to generate research for the purpose of expanding nursing science.
- Demonstrate expertise in the provision of care to individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds across the health spectrum.
- Function in a variety of roles collaborating with other disciplines in the attainment of improved patient care and outcomes.
- Continuously evaluate their nursing practice in relation to professional standards and assume accountability for practice.
- Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of policy formulation and how it impacts nursing practice and health care delivery.
- Analyze ethical issues as they affect communities, society, the health professions, and their own practice.
- Use technologies to integrate and support safe nursing practice, promote health information communication, teach patients and families, manage knowledge and mitigate errors.