Implementing the Essentials In Curriculum Design Nursing Education

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Curriculum Design Nursing Education and Implementing the Essentials

Implementing the Essentials In Curriculum Design Nursing Education

Considerations for Curriculum,Level of Expectation In Curricular,Entry Level Professional Nursing Education,Entry Level Professional Nursing Degree Options,Pre-licensure Programs.

Considerations for Curriculum

    The domains, competencies, and concepts presented in the Essentials provide the platform for curriculum design and program assessment with an attempt to produce consistency in expected outcomes of graduates. Although these are major elements incorporated within a curriculum for learning and assessment, they are not to be interpreted as representing the curriculum in its entirety. 

    In other words, it is not intended for courses within nursing curricula to mirror the 10 domains and eight concepts. Instead, the elements used as the Essentials framework (domains, concepts, and competencies) should be integrated throughout and across the curriculum. 

    A scaffolded approach ensures students interface with competencies in multiple contexts and with increasing complexity. Nursing programs have a great deal of flexibility in the development and design of curricula, thus preserving the ability of nursing programs to be unique or innovative.

    Outcomes, when referred to as student learning outcomes, describe the desired outcomes of the graduate at the completion of the program. The student learning outcomes will reflect attainment of all competencies in addition to any relevant specialty/role competencies and other expectations identified. 

    Course design within curricula reflects the expectations of student learning with clear linkage from course objectives/competencies from within and across courses to end of program student learning outcomes, written as course learning outcomes or course competencies. For this reason, course outcomes should link to the Essentials competencies and concepts. 

    Intentional teaching strategies are designed and incorporated throughout the curriculum in multiple contexts and with increasing complexity to provide students multiple opportunities for learning and demonstrating competencies. For the foreseeable future, minimum requirements for practicum experiences are deemed important to provide consistent and quality preparation at both the entry and advanced-levels for professional nursing practice.

    Competencies are assessed as the learner progresses throughout the program; Therefore, a robust program assessment plan is needed to measure students' achievement of competencies by the end of the program. Some programs may wish to create “progression indicators” at specified points within a program of study to track learners' achievement of competencies. 

    To demonstrate the integration of competencies across multiple domains with increasing complexity, performance assessments should be integrated in the curriculum throughout the program of study. As such, assessments are performance based and serve as both a learning experience and an evaluation tool. 

    Performance assessment is a multidimensional process, integral to learning, that involves observation and judgment of each student's performance on the basis of explicit criteria, with feedback to the student for improving learning and competence. 

    In the previous section, the Essentials Model featuring two levels of professional nursing education (entry and advanced) was introduced. While the domains, competencies, and concepts are identical for both entry and advanced levels of education, sub-competencies are used to differentiate expectations for entry (Level 1) and advanced (Level 2) professional nursing education. 

Level of Expectation In Curricular

    These two levels of sub-competencies reflect the educational stages of nurses-as they enter professional nursing practice and as they advance their education regardless of the program of study they are completing to advance their education . The following sections detail the expectations for curricula at each of these two levels.

Entry Level Professional Nursing Education

    Programs preparing nurses to enter professional nursing practice (either through prelicensure preparation or through a degree completion pathway for nurses with initial preparation with an associate or diploma degree) use Level 1 sub-competencies within the curriculum. Entry level professional nursing programs prepare graduates as a generalist for practice across the lifespan and with diverse populations and in four spheres of practice.

Entry Level Professional Nursing Degree Options

Pre-licensure Programs

Entry-Level Professional Nursing Education sub-competencies (Level 1) are applied across any curriculum preparing for entry to professional nursing practice. Content learned within prerequisite courses is incorporated into the learning and assessment of the sub-competencies as applicable, and attainment of sub-competencies are applied within prerequisite courses. 

    This does not mean that every sub-competency and concept is applied in every course, but it does mean that sub-competencies are not addressed in one course and then disregarded for the remainder of the program. Outcome measures include evidence of attainment of Level 1 sub-competencies, pass rates on the NCLEX-RN (for traditional and accelerated tracks), and other institutional requirements.

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