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Undergraduate Nursing Program



FIU Curriculum Undergraduate Nursing Program

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that nursing education is obliged to follow numerous requirements and standards. Among these requirements, there are coherence and congruence of the curriculum with basic standards, guidelines, and the scope of nursing practice. There are also certain social expectations regarding the quality of public health. That is why the evaluation of the curriculums is an important part of its development, as well as the lifelong need for nurse educators.

Analysis and evaluation of the curriculum render improvement and reconsideration of the quality of education, simplifying the learning strategies for students. It is especially pivotal for schools of nursing, which is why curriculum evaluation is commonly practiced. This need is also boosted by the requirement for educators to constantly improve the quality of knowledge and learning environments. Thus, the following paper aims to give an account of the analysis and evaluation of Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine's curriculum.

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The paper focuses on identifying the school's mission and vision statements, their correspondence with the general statement of Florida International University, and their connection to the nursing theories. Furthermore, the paper defines a process of designing the curriculum and outlines the main driving forces which influence this process. Also, the expected outcomes of the conducted courses are discussed, as well as their relation to curriculum design which is involved in the analysis. The study compares Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine's curriculum with curriculums of other nursing schools and identifies the main differences between them.

The curriculum is also assessed according to the accreditation model, so the paper could provide specific recommendations based on the evaluation. The curriculum of the FIU school of nursing includes numerous aspects that are worth being discussed, and the paper presents them about the curriculum design issues and their connection to social, scientific, and regulatory expectations that determine the quality of nursing education.

Part 1

To begin with, it is necessary to outline the basics of the mission and vision statements of FIU nursing school. The school suggests that its mission is to provide the students with the appropriate environments that can offer diversity, innovations, and methods of research that help in creating the clinically accountable, ethical, socially-oriented physicians, researchers, and nursing practitioners, who are sufficiently qualified for addressing purposes of personal and public health issues within their communities (FIU, n.d.). Therefore, it is necessary to say that the mission of the school applies an up-to-date framework of cultural competence and the social-cognitive approach (Florida International University, 2016).

The persistence of these concepts is a part of the school's vision, which is also worth mentioning. Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine positions itself as a national leader in providing healthcare services to diverse populations and communities through the complex of public health education, evidence-based studies, and primary clinical care (Florida International University, 2016). It is becoming increasingly apparent that such positioning reflects cultural competence and the application of social cognitive theories.

That is why the school's values can be determined as the following: scholarship, innovation, inclusion, integrity, and service (FIU, n.d.). The school values modern and culturally sensitive philosophy, which complies with the general FIU's mission and statements in multiple ways. (Florida International University, 2016) Since these values, mission, and vision are a part of FIU's general conceptual framework, the correspondence between them should be looked into further.

Florida International University (2016) claims that its vision consists of the top public-based researches conducted, on the education of students, and innovations for addressing multiple social purposes. FIU's mission is a commitment to professional teaching, cutting-edge studies, and profound cooperation with the communities on various levels. The nursing school of this university follows a pattern of innovation, professionalism, and close attachment to local communities (FIU, n.d.). Such constraints are undoubtedly typical of any healthcare and education institution, which is why the nursing school is recognized as one of the most professional and quality healthcare education centers within the entire country (Florida International University, 2016).

The university, as well as its nursing school, promote an opinion that education has to be directed toward serving public needs, especially under the circumstances of globalization and proactive social diversification. A high degree of integration like that comprises a complex conceptual framework for the entire university. Overall, the philosophy of the nursing school aligns with the general vision and mission statements of the university itself.

Part 2

Concerning standardization of nursing education, it is worth saying that FIU's school of nursing is supposed to correspond to such AACN/CCNE standards as Mission and Governance, Institutional Commitment and Resources, Curriculum and Teaching-Learning Practices, and Assessment and Achievement of Program Outcomes (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2013). Since this paper analyzes the school's curriculum, a more detailed discussion of Curriculum and Teaching-Learning Practices is required. The requirements for the discussion are the following:

  1. The curriculum should be designed for representation, reflection, and evaluation of clear student learning outcomes by the program's mission and objectives as well as correspondence to the specific roles for which the course is designed (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2013). The curriculum is required to provide clear statements regarding its content, assessment principles, and distinct learning objectives.
  2. The curriculum is required to implement and revise relevant professional standards, frameworks, and strategies that are relevantly congruent with the student learning outcomes and objectives of the course. Generally speaking, the curriculum is supposed to be dynamic in regards to its basic functions (FIU, 2012). Constant improvement and updating of the curriculum are obligatory, and they heavily depend on the amendments to the existing standards and clinical guidelines.
  3. The curriculum has to present a logical and comprehensible structure of its outlines and content. This requirement is quite understandable, because student learning outcomes, the level of knowledge, and assessment metrics should be categorized and should undergo a specific systematization.
  4. Teaching and learning practices should support and facilitate the process of obtaining specific knowledge for students. The learning environment is obliged to include sufficient learning materials, reliable sources of knowledge, and the constant presence of professional advice (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2013). Likewise, students have a right to access the related sources of knowledge and information regardless of their success in the course or any other personal characteristics.
  5. The curriculum has to include the pre-planned empirical experiences for the integration of the recently obtained knowledge, demonstration of present skills and knowledge, and evaluation process for senior educators.
  6. The curriculum, as well as teaching practices, should be particularly focused on addressing the interests and concerns of local communities. It is becoming abundantly clear that this requirement is fundamental since it is one of the main objectives of the mission and vision of the nursing school.
  7. The assessment should be conducted by the official faculty representatives. Meanwhile, the assessment criteria of individual student performance are expected to be clear, justified, and feasible for being met by students’ abilities.
  8. The curriculum and related teaching practices should be evaluated regularly for respective enhancement of their content, settlement of objectives, and compliance with the standards outlined.

Part 3

NCLEX knowledge and skills should be obligatorily embedded in the curriculum of any nursing school, as the licensing examination covers the aforementioned aspects. Speaking about NCLEX-PN examination, the curriculum should address the patient-based concepts: safe effective care environment, such as management of care, safety and infection control, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity, such as basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parental therapies, reduction of risk potential, and physiological adaptation (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2013).

These concepts include more detailed categories and groups of required skills. Any student passing NCLEX-PN will be questioned in that regard, which is why the nursing school curriculum integrates such knowledge into the scope of its content (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 2013). The acquisition of such knowledge within the curriculum is absolute. The exam implies an assessment of nurse eligibility to perform, not in comparison with other students, but with specific standards of practice. The same categories are also applicable to NCLEX-RN.

However, the exception can be made, presented with a stronger emphasis on Pharmacological and Parental Therapies Reduction Potential. The format of the examination presupposes clear answers to multiple-choice questions. Many questions require a profound rationale for choosing or not choosing a particular option (FIU, 2012). The curriculum is required to provide students not only with the related knowledge but also to foster critical thinking as the most prominent part of nursing decision-making. Hence, skill-oriented education is also important to the curriculum in several ways which are worth being discussed.

It is getting more obvious that NCLEX expects examinees to demonstrate their professional maturity, which is why their answers have to reflect the ethical approaches, the readiness to make a decision, cultural competence, and social consideration. In general, the curriculum is not obliged to include skills beyond the scope of nursing practice, except cultural awareness and cross-disciplinary tolerance. Diligent attainment of curriculum goals can underpin a successful passing of NCLEX. Taking these points into account, it is appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that curriculums of nursing schools must work on forming the professional identity of future nurses since NCLEX assesses this aspect as an indicator of a student's readiness for nursing practice.

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Part 4

The design of the curriculum is quite an essential element, since it largely determines the scope and content of the nursing education, as well as presents a certain system of assessment and evaluation. To begin with, the meaning of the terms of the curriculum must be clear and explicit. The curriculum is a plan or a program that learner encounter during their learning experience under the governance of an educational institution (Billings & Halstead, 2016). The curriculum delineates various objectives of the course, ways of their attainment, and specific metrics for assessment. The design of the curriculum is a specific set of considerations integrated into its scope, content, and evaluation criteria.

Consequently, the curriculum design should include such aspects as evidence-based information, context relevancy, and unification. These aspects should not be regarded as obstacles to the formation of the curriculum, as they orient design toward relevant outcomes. The first component is influenced by such constraints as preexisting addressing of context in which the nursing graduates will perform; by the standardization of nursing education, the scope of nursing practice, and patient-centered professional culture (Billings & Halstead, 2016).

Evidence-based information’s impact on the curriculum design is always dynamic, which is why the amendments to curriculum design should be made frequently. Context relevancy of the curriculum design is expected to be responsive to all basic imperatives of nursing education and its stakeholders, coherent with mission and vision statements of the educational institution, and to render feasibility of learning material (Billings & Halstead, 2016). Unification of the curriculum is influenced by such constraints as:

  • Ethical and philosophical considerations of the scope of practice and a specific course;
  • Course learning outcomes stemming from curriculum goals and expectations;
  • Strategies facilitating the learning opportunities and the feasibility of knowledge to be acquired;
  • Specific professional language reflecting the standards of education and nursing practice.

The curriculum design is a cyclic process, except for its initial stage of scoping and goal assessment. Its faculty deployment and a regular appraisal are regular procedures. Likewise, scholarship as a practice of curriculum beyond the original educational institution usually undergoes the same stages, so the cyclic nature of curriculum design should be not recognized as evidence of its poor quality (Billings & Halstead, 2016). The design of the curriculum may undergo various updates, but it should consider the influences mentioned above and practice a dynamic development according to its prior evaluation. This way the curriculum designs, which were initially inappropriately scoped, can always be fixed and enhanced.

Part 5

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the fact that the expected course outcomes are a part of the nursing education curriculum's goals. Expected course outcomes include the presence of specific knowledge, skills, attitudes, and standpoints regarding a specific branch of nursing practice and healthcare. Expected course outcomes not only offer the evidence of students' possession of these qualities, but they are also supposed to demonstrate the correspondence between the students’ general level and the related standards of nursing education, the scope of practice, and philosophy statements of the educational institution (Flowers & Olenick, 2014).

That is why the integrity of the expected course outcomes in the scope of the curriculum is quite obvious. As it has been previously discussed, the curriculum is expected to provide favorable environments for students' knowledge acquisition and expected outcomes attainment, since the curriculum is a formal framework created for guiding, directing, and assessing a student in their experience of learning and getting an education.

Furthermore, the design of the curriculum expects the faculty members to consider curriculum correlation with the course outcomes and respective facilitation of their attainment by students (Flowers & Olenick, 2014). The assessment system is largely governed by the fact of achievement of course outcomes, as grading determines the extent to which a student has managed to gain the expected knowledge.

Course expected outcomes are generally determined within the scope of the course, which is usually based on comprehension of the respective standards of nursing practice and their correspondence to guidelines. It can be concluded that the official regulations are what influence the formation, of course, expected outcomes. To the largest extent, nursery education as well as any other professional field is closely attached to the empirical performance. The measuring of student eligibility to perform in the real world is pivotal, especially for nursing and healthcare services representatives (Keating, 2014).

The vision and mission of the educational institution, cross-disciplinary and transcultural components are also present in the process of outcomes formation, functioning to help students form their professional identity and mindset. The expected course outcomes are required to correspond to the fundamental standards of practice, as well as to the social demands and needs (Keating, 2014).

Healthcare education is supposed to serve private and public health centers on a large scale, which is why alignment with social expectations is a preexisting determinant of the course outcomes (Flowers & Olenick, 2014). Consequently, the expected course outcomes are facilitated by the existence of curriculum, and curriculum design has to correspond to the professional standards and community expectations regarding the quality of nursing practice and care.

Part 6

Speaking about the design of courses, it is appropriate to mention that it undergoes almost the same stages as the design of curriculum, but with consideration of wider context. The curriculum serves as a function of framework and guidelines for course content, designating and structuring the course, while the course design is particularly oriented toward implementing the specific learning content and materials. The courses are usually aligned with curriculums because they represent the executive level of content outlined by curriculums and share the same basic standards.

One may argue that curriculums and courses do not differ from each other, but it is certainly not true, as the course is a narrower regulation, even though it addresses a wider context of the nursing scope of practice. A certain course is a subordinate element within the education experience of getting a nursing degree, which is why the courses are designed in a way that helps students meet the goals and expectations stated by a curriculum.

The course design as a process, however, is aimed at the achievement of certain skills and knowledge via the process of learning, and its dependence on curriculum is natural. The content of the course is designed with not only regard to the existing standards of practice and guidelines within a branch of nursing and care services, but also with the integration of transcultural competence, nursing ethics, and critical thinking. In other words, the curriculum outlines what should be done to achieve the expected learning goals, and the course expected outcomes are about how it has to be implemented. The course design creates a foundation for further learning of students and integrates present knowledge to a new level through intensifying the student’s motivation.

Hence, the course design is respectively structured, so that curriculum objectives can be attained and measured. The course itself, however, does not explain how an educator can convey knowledge and skills to the students, so a teacher needs to select a specific learning strategy that fits a particular class context. Common practice suggests that teaching-learning strategies can be the following: lecture, high fidelity simulation, concept mapping, interactive and e-learning, game, role-playing, classroom discussion, case study, debating, and problem-based learning. The courses are required to meet the standard learning expectations, which is why a selection of appropriate teacher learning strategies is essential.

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Part 7

Comparing FIU's curriculum to the curriculum of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, it is necessary to say that they are more similar rather than different. First of all, both curriculums are particularly focused on addressing the public perspective of health. A major part of the curriculums is devoted to such aspects as advanced public health nursing, health policy, health management & leadership, epidemiology, and other fundamental elements of the nursing scope of practice related to the social cognitive perspective of public health (FIU, 2016).

A single noticeable difference is a more active focus on health leadership in the University of Hawaii at Manoa curriculum, while FIU places a specific emphasis on the innovative culture rather than on professional leadership. This difference, however, is not obvious or adverse to both educational institutions. Both nursing schools are devoted to serving a public need, but through applying different approaches.

Speaking about the nursing curriculum at the University of California at San Francisco, there are certain similarities in pharmacology, parent-child nursing, and socio-cultural competence of healthcare. These aspects are also traceable in FIU's curriculum since they are largely present within the NCLEX examination. Nonetheless, the rest of the curriculum content drastically differs in several ways. The University of California at San Francisco suggests s nursing curriculum with a more detailed focus on social aspects of nursing, especially about parent-child care and care for families with children (FIU, 2016).

The university considers public health to be generally based on family nursing, as a family is the most widespread micro-community of each potential patient in regards to the public health perspective (FIU, 2016). Thus, the University of California at San Francisco presents a mainly different curriculum for the attainment of student eligibility for official nursing practice.

However, the University of Pennsylvania presents a curriculum with a much wider range of courses, with obligatory as well as voluntary involvement in students’ credit programs. This curriculum is similar to the FIU curriculum in regards to approaches to public health issues and innovative leadership, but a wide array of other aspects differs from the FIU curriculum. The curriculum of the University of Pennsylvania is more complex and largely dependent, while FIU is aimed at the narrower scope of learning and nursery education (FIU, 2016). Finally, the curriculum of the University of Florida is similar to the FIU curriculum in all general aspects, such as pharmacology therapeutics, acute care, care management, and health assessment.

Part 8

The curriculum's evaluation based on the accreditation model suggests that the FIU nursing curriculum lacks a global consideration for public health nursing and social constraints. FIU is extremely focused on innovative leadership, but the curriculum lacks the acquisition of knowledge and skills about specific social behaviors of nurses in various social contexts of care (Hornberger, et al., 2014). Also, the healthcare policy, insurance, and affordability of care are not discussed as independent subjects. On the contrary, the FIU curriculum bases knowledge of clinical and acute care on the social cognitive dimension.

The curriculum does not address social aspects as a separate course but actively embeds them into the course syllabus, focusing on the nursing role development (Hornberger, et al., 2014). Overall, FIU curriculums for nursing school are congruent with the main standards and guidelines of the nursing practice, satisfying the expectations of local communities, even though a more detailed societal perspective can be integrated into the curriculum.

Taking these points into account, the following recommendations should be outlined:

  1. The curriculum is recommended to involve the related learning materials and formation of attitudes concerning healthcare policy-making, insurance, and affordability of care. Students should not only recognize these aspects as essential for their regular nursing practice, but also as an independent social discourse, addressing which is congruent with FIU philosophy statements and fundamentals of holistic care.
  2. The curriculum should pay attention to creating more detailed guidance on ethical dilemmas and other aspects related to the social domain of healthcare. Educators practice different teaching strategies, but the curriculum does not include any specific requirements and conditions for the use of case studies (Hornberger, et al., 2014). Thus, retrieval of the best scholarly practice and design of a unique conceptual framework is recommended to be implemented in the social context of the curriculum.
  3. The connection between innovative leadership and transcultural competencies is an important consideration for the FIU nursing school curriculum because the school practices these care constraints as independent entities while there is an evident direct relation between innovation and culture of care (Hornberger, et al., 2014). Hence, the curriculum is advised to integrate innovative leadership with transcultural competence through the profound theoretical study of health innovation in different cultures, as well as the fundamental conceptualization of care innovation as a distinct cultural component.

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Considering the aforementioned facts, it is evident that this paper has focused on the evaluation and analysis of Florida International University Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine's curriculum. The paper has outlined the fundamental mission and vision statements of the institution and linked them to a social cognitive theory of health. Also, the paper has described the basic requirements of the curriculum, the process of creating its design, and its relation to course expected outcomes. At any rate, it is fair to admit that the FIU curriculum is congruent with basic requirements, standards, and guidelines of the nursing scope of practice, as well as with social expectations regarding the delivery of quality care.

The curriculum includes all necessary components: structure, context integrity, measurability, attainability, and cyclic layout. The curriculum can be improved through the formation of more detailed guidelines for studying the social aspects of health in terms of health policy, insurance, and affordability of care, as well as in terms of the profound investigation of implications on the cultural perspective of health innovation.

It is also appropriate to make a general comment on the fact that curriculum in nursing education should comply with the basic requirements of the education system and specific professional aspects. Consequently, objectivity, measurability, and congruence with the purpose of learning are the basic pillars of any curriculum. The correspondence of the acquired knowledge to social expectations, transcultural competence, formation of professional standpoint, and ethical behavior are specific elements of nursing education.

It is also evident that curriculums can differ depending on the philosophy of educational institutions and their particular form of nursing education. However, it presupposes a possibility of attaining professional eligibility in multiple ways, as the outcome is much more important than the ways of its achievement. Therefore, the nursing education curriculum can always be improved, as its cyclic nature presupposes a frequent and constant enhancement of its weak and strong points.

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