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Sample Plan of Study

Year 1:

Summer (5 course units)

Psychological and Social Diversity in Health and Wellness

This course explores and integrates the intersection of psychological, cognitive, and social development with the lived experiences of individuals, families, and communities across the lifespan in order to conduct socially contextualized health assessments and health teaching. Extant theories will be critically analyzed and examined with respect to issues of health care access, health history, health promotion, and issues of equity and diversity from a life-course perspective. This knowledge will be synthesized and integrated with the development of the student’s communication skills and interviewing processes necessary to develop socially attuned health history and teaching that promote psychological well being and healthy lifestyles. Simulated and observational experiences provide students with opportunities to acquire and apply knowledge necessary for conducting a comprehensive health history of an individual situated within a diverse community. They also provide opportunities to develop prioritized health teaching plans in partnership with that individual.

Pathways to Practice

This course builds on the accelerated student’s background and experiences and uses them as building blocks to garner the intellectual capital needed to integrate  his/her identity as a professional nurse. The course links the Penn Compact 2020  to the four core themes of Penn’s BSN nursing program: engagement, inquiry, judgment, and voice. It introduces phenomena of concern to nursing, contextualizes societal meanings of nursing practice and health care delivery across time and place, and stresses the importance of nursing science as the basis for practice.  Emphasis is placed on debate, critical analysis, and constructing a logical and lucid verbal and written argument regarding issues related to professional nursing practice and health care delivery.

Physical Assessment

This is a laboratory course designed to help beginning nursing students to develop competence in the process of physical assessment. Students engage in actual practice of physical assessment with fellow students as their ‘patient’ subject. A blending of instructor demonstration and supervision of physical examination practice sessions is used in the learning laboratory setting. Students prepare via self-learning activities with a variety of supplied resources (readings, videotapes, computer programs) and have the opportunity to refine their skill though faculty-supervised practice sessions. Procedural skills that correlate with the presentations of physiologic system assessment are included.

Integrated Pathophysiology, Pharmacology, and Therapeutics

Pathophysiologic concepts and processes are introduced with major emphasis on commonly occurring acute and chronic illnesses and their therapeutic interventions. Major classes of drugs that are used to support organ function are explored. The physiological and pathophysiological rationale for each drug indication, mechanisms of drug action, individualized dosing implications, and adverse drug events will be explored for prototypical agents used in the selected cases. The course will enhance the student’s comprehension of the scientific complexity of therapeutic interventions in various conditions and will build upon the foundational sciences. Additionally the course will provide the student with sufficient scientific knowledge and skills to prepare administer and monitor drugs and therapies in a safe and effective manner.

Fall (5.5 course units)

Nursing of Women and Infants

This course emphasizes the child-bearing cycle, and the related issues of maternal and infant mortality and morbidity. It also explores women and infant’s health care and health promotion needs across the lifespan. It provides a global perspective, and uses the United Nations’ Pillars of Safe Motherhood and World Health Organization’s Millennium Development Goals as the vehicles to enable students to understand the interrelationships among issues of health and health promotion; social, economic, political and environmental contexts; and the care of women across the lifespan. Clinical experiences provide opportunities for students to understand the connections between the local and the global; to use their developing knowledge base to affect the health of women and their infants. Students will have opportunities for hospital-based care of child-bearing women and their infants. In addition, community-based experiences with individual women and with groups of women across the life cycle will be provided in order to enhance teaching, interviewing and assessment skills.

Pediatric Nursing

This course considers how nursing influences the health and healing capacities of infants, children, adolescents and their families. It focuses on the knowledge and skill acquisition needed to care for these patients at particular moments, across the continuum of care, and through transitions in an illness experience. It addresses pediatric nursing phenomena of concern and major final common pathways of pediatric illness from infancy through adolescence using a using a developmental and systems approach. Emphasis is placed on family-centered care through transitions in the illness and recovery phases. The course emphasizes clinical reasoning; family centered strategies for optimizing health and maintaining individuality; promoting optimal developmental, physiological, and psychological functioning; and enhancing strengths within the context of family. Clinical experiences at various children’s hospitals and simulation experiences provide sufficient opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care and knowledge integration.

Psychiatric Nursing

This course examines how nursing influences the health and healing capacities of individuals and families experiencing severe psychiatric distress. It focuses on the knowledge and skill acquisition needed to care for these patients at particular moments, across the continuum of care, and through transitions in an illness experience. The course addresses nursing phenomena of concern related the meanings of an illness experience, the development of healing relationships with or within individuals, families, and groups, and on the advanced communication strategies needed to engage individual and families in mental health promotion strategies. It also provides the tools to enable students to construct effective treatment groups with patients; work groups with disciplinary and inter-professional colleagues; and to understand the healing dimensions of environments. Clinical and simulation experiences provide sufficient opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care and clinically situated knowledge integration.

Scientific Inquiry for Evidence-based Practice

This course is designed to advance students’ understanding of the research process, methods of scientific inquiry, and analytical techniques. Students acquire knowledge of systematic approaches used by scientists to design and conduct studies. Course content prepares students to appraise quantitative and qualitative research, and evaluate the scientific merit and clinical significance of research for translation into practice. Evidence-based guidelines are examined and rated for strength of evidence and expert consensus using evidence grading systems and defined criteria. Students engage in variety of creative learning experiences to facilitate appreciative inquiry, clinical reasoning, and evidence-based practice. Quality improvement, comparative effectiveness analyses, information science, and electronic health systems technology demonstrate the capacity for measurement and surveillance of nursing-sensitive and other outcomes used to evaluate quality nursing care and test interventions. Ethical, legal and health policy implications for research are explored. This course serves as the basis for scientific inquiry about human experiences to address important problems that require solutions and to expand the research and the evidence base for professional nursing practice.

Spring (5 course units)

Nursing of Young and Middle Aged Adults

This course considers how nursing influences the health and healing capacities of young and middle aged adults who experience functional status impairments as a result of serious illness or injury. It focuses on the knowledge and skill acquisition needed to care for these patients at particular moments, across the continuum of care, and through transitions in an illness experience. It addresses nursing phenomena of concern, including risk factors for illness or injury, strategies to overcome barriers and support personal health resources, alleviate suffering and reduce the impact of illness or injury on the functioning of the person. Content and clinical experiences integrate developmental and role issues; policy, cultural and ethical considerations. Clinical experiences in acute care hospital units and simulation experiences provide opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care, and knowledge integration.

Nursing of Older Adults

This course considers how nursing influences the health and healing capacities of older adults. It focuses on the knowledge and skill acquisition needed to care for these patients at particular moments, across the continuum of care, and through transitions in an illness experience. It addresses nursing phenomena of concern including the unique set of principles and body of knowledge and skills necessary to the practice of nursing with older adults. Students are provided with the theoretical background necessary to understand health system issues affecting older adults. Students will attain the knowledge necessary to complete a comprehensive assessment of the older adult’s physical, functional, psychosocial, and cognitive capacities. Common problems associated with cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, and genitourinary systems that affect older adults will be discussed. In addition, principles of continuity of care, rehabilitation, nutritional and pharmacodynamic changes, cultural diversity and ethics will be integrated throughout the course. Clinical experiences in acute care hospitals and simulation experiences provide sufficient opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care, and knowledge integration.Special emphasis is placed on transitional care for older adults across the health care continuum.

Choose one from the following Health Care Ethics courses:

Introduction to Bioethics

This course is intended to serve as a broad introduction to the field of bioethics. The course focuses on three of the most important areas in bioethics: genetics and reproduction, human experimentation, and end-of-life care. Each module covers essential bioethics concepts, relevant legal cases, and classic readings on that theme.

Theoretical Foundations of Health Care Ethics

The theoretical foundations of health care ethics including definitions of ethics, history of bioethics and nursing ethics, and the influence of religion,psychology of moral development and philosophy in the development of ethical theory. Nursing code of ethics, changing ideas in ethics, and discussion of the developing profession of nursing are included.

Ethical Aspects of Health and Technology

Interdisciplinary approach to the study of the interface between ethics and law in the provision of health and illness care. This course draws upon the disciplines of philosophy, law, biomedical engineering and nursing in examining such concepts as the use/nonuse of biomedical technology, who and how one decides what shall be done for a given “patient,” and the “rights” and responsibilities (accountability) of all persons involved in health/illness care decisions. The interplay of ethical theory, personal value systems, law and technology will be stressed throughout. Lectures, seminars and case studies will be used.This course satisfies the Society & Social Structures Sector for Nursing Class of 2012 and Beyond.

Biomedical Ethics

A survey of moral problems in medicine and biomedical research. Problems discussed include: genetic manipulation, informed consent, infanticide, abortion, euthanasia, and the allocation of medical resources. Moral theory is presented with the aim of enabling students to think critically and analytically about moral issues. The need for setting biomedical issues in broader humanistic perspective is stressed.

Health Policy

Students must choose one from the following Health Policy courses, which can be taken in either the fall or spring semester:

Health and Social Policy

This is an introductory course examining social problems in the context of contemporary health care in the United States. Topics include the organization and financing of health care; education for the health professions; imbalances in the supply and demand for health providers–the doctor surplus and nurse shortage; changing patterns of disease; dilemmas in the use of new medical technologies; health services needs and dilemmas across the life span; AIDS–the new pandemic; transmedical problems–the homeless, the mentally ill. Recommended for students planning careers in nursing, medicine, and other health professions, and those interested in social policy. There are no required prerequisites.

Public Policy and the Nation’s Health

This course examines health care and social policy from domestic and international perspectives. It is designed to engage undergraduate students in critical thinking about health policy issues as they affect our health care, employment, taxes, and social investments. The current national debate on health care reform is used as a frame of reference for examining the strengths and weaknesses of health care services in the U.S. from the perspectives of patients/families, health professionals, health services providers, insurers, employers, and public policy makers, and the pros and cons of a range of prescriptions for system improvement from across the political spectrum. About a third of the course focuses more specifically on global public health challenges and the policy strategies for reducing health disparities worldwide.

Advances In Health Systems Research And Analysis

Capstone Course for NURS/WH Joint Degree Students.

Current Issues In Health and Social Policy

Analysis of key contemporary issues in health and social policy that will provide students with a deeper understanding of the design and structure of the U.S. health care system, the policy initiatives that have shaped it, and the roles of the government, the private sector, and consumers and advocacy groups in setting the policy agenda. Seminars will examine the origins of each issue, the policies enacted and their effects, both intended and unintended, and will propose and debate the merits of alternative policy solutions. The role of health services and policy research in informing the policy debate and directions will be highlighted.

Public Policy Leadership in the American Public/Private System of Health Care

This course will explore the philosophy and growth of public policy that has directed the American Health Care System in its ever expanding movement toward universal health care for all citizens. Analysis of health policy and systems content will assist the students to identify the knowledge and skills needed for the health or human service provider to assume leadership roles in the formulation of public policy for change; this includes system restructuring, service delivery and funding of health care. Emphasis will be on the effect of policy on the individual/family user of health care services rather than the effect on professional health care providers or health care delivery systems. Special attention will be given to the effect of policy on populations, both urban and rural, living near and below the poverty level.

Year 2:

Summer (2 course units)

Nursing in the Community

This course considers how nursing influences the health and healing capacities of both communities as a whole (populations) and of groups, families, and individuals living within particular communities locally and globally. It addresses the complexity of nursing practice using a public health paradigm. It requires students to draw from prior class and clinical knowledge and skills and apply this practice base to communities across care settings, ages, and cultures with different experiences of equity and access to care. It provides the tools needed to engage in collaborative community work and to give voice to the community’s strengths, needs, and goals. It also moves students from an individual and family focus to a population focus for health assessment and intervention. Students consider the science, policies, and resources that support public health, and community based and community-oriented care. Clinical and simulated experiences in community settings provide sufficient opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care and knowledge integration in community settings. Students will have opportunities to care for patients and populations within selected communities.

Fall (5.5 course units)

Research/Inquiry-Based Service Residency

This course is designed to facilitate students’ intellectual curiosity and independence in exploring the research process relevant to an area of interest.  Students expand their research knowledge base provided in NURS 230 and NURS 547 through a structured individualized faculty mentored experience based on specific learning objectives.  Students identify a faculty advisor and, in collaboration with the advisor, define learning objectives to guide a plan of study.  All research or inquiry residencies are under the guidance of a faculty member in the School of Nursing, but students may also interact with affiliated investigators and clinicians who contribute to and enrich the course.  The residency offers students opportunities to experience at any level systematic methods for research, or service-based clinical inquiry or quality improvement. This mentored residency can be fulfilled by one of the following options:

  * Research-based practicum in basic science, clinical research, nursing history, healthcare policy, ethics, or informatics.
  * Inquiry-based Service practicum such as conducting quality improvement procedures or program evaluations in an affiliated healthcare institution.
Leadership in the Complex Healthcare System

This two-part course provides the didactic and clinical experiences in increasingly complex nursing care situations and environments which facilitate the students’ transition to independent practice. In the lecture component, the focus is on the integration of knowledge and skill for nursing practice and develops the ability of students to see nursing practice as part of a complex system. It examines systems thinking and complexity, development of a leadership role and skills, inter-professional communication and teamwork, and leading change in healthcare organizations. This course also examines the nurse’s role in improvement science and patient care delivery, focusing on quality improvement processes, patient safety, nurse sensitive process and outcome metrics with micro-systems. This course also allows students to develop the capacity for clinical expertise, leadership, and for translating the science of the profession into practice. Students also are assigned to a seminar component that is correlated with their selected site for the specialty clinical practicum. This aspect of the course allows the student to develop additional expertise in a specialty area of practice and to develop competences specific to that population of patients.These seminar components are adult health and illness; adult critical care, obstetrics/labor & delivery, psychiatric/mental health, and pediatrics. Advanced simulation experiences and extensive clinical practice in an area of the students’ choice provide multiple opportunities to synthesize the multidimensional aspects of nursing, and provide the environment which facilitates transition to professional nursing practice. Students select from a variety of settings in which to refine their practice skills. Principles of leadership, accountability and change will be applied to clinical practice as the student begins to operationalize the professional nursing role. Emphasis is placed on the nurse as a knowledgeable provider of health care who is both a change agent and advocate.

Nursing Elective

This can be any course in the school of nursing, undergraduate or graduate.

Case Study

Students must choose one of the following Case Study courses, which can be taken in either the fall or spring semester:

Case Study: Self-care of Chronic Illness


Case Study: Culture of Birth

This course will explore the cultural context of birth and the activities of women and professionals and/or attendants in meeting the health care needs of pregnant women. The history of caring for women at birth, international health care, cultural mores/societal values, place of birth, psychosocial factors, ethical decision-making and the role of technology are content areas that will be discussed.

Case Study: Nurses and the Child Welfare System


Case Study: Quality Care Challenges in an Evolving Health Care Market

Quality care is an issue for consumers, providers, purchasers, and policy makers. This case study examines the multiple challenges that surround the quality of health care in the evolving United States health care marketplace. Through classroom discussion and special project experience, the student will become familiar with the concept of health care quality and approaches to the measurement and management of quality. Using Donabedian’s construct of structure, process and outcomes, strategies to improve quality while containing or reducing costs are reviewed, including the contributions of clinical practice guidelines. The evolving dominant structures for providing health care services, managed care and integrated delivery systems, and their approaches to quality management and reporting will be explored.

Case Study: Nursing Practice with HIV+ Patients

This course is directed at the need to increase nursing majors knowledge and clinical expertice in the care of persons with HIV/AIDS. Hands on clinical practice with nurses who are AIDS experts will be combined with seminars that provide epidemiologic, clinical assessment, infection control, symptom management, patient teaching, psychosocial, ethical, cultural, political, and policy information.

Case Study: Breast Feeding & Human Lactation

Human milk is recognized universally as the optimal diet for newborn infants. The health benefits of breastfeeding are so significant that a National Health Objective set forth by the Surgeon General of the United States for the year 2010 is to increase the proportion of mothers who breastfeed their babies in the postpartum period. Through classroom and clinical experiences, this course will provide an in depth examination of the anatomy and physiology of lactation, essential aspects of establishing and maintaining lactation, and the nurses’ role in counseling the breastfeeding family. Emphasis will be placed on current research findings in the content area.

Case Study: Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)

This course will examine the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in health promotion and disease prevention, as well as in acute and chronic health conditions, through evidence-based research and practice. Implications of CAM on culture, health disparities, society, economics, safety, legal, ethical, and health policy issues will be explored and discussed.

Case Study: Aggressive Behavior in Healthcare: Assessment Prevention and Treatment

The escalating incidence and prevalence of aggression in the health care setting requires that providers acquire a new set of pragmatic competencies for managing its complex sequelae. This course presents theoretical frameworks for understanding, predicting, preventing and responding to aggressive behaviors across the life span. Historical, bio-behavioral, social, and cultural explanations for aggression will be synthesized and analyzed within the context of multiple points of entry into the health care system across clinical settings. Personal self-awareness, debriefing, and stress management techniques exemplify techniques to prevent untoward consequences in providers. This course also uses exemplars and a range of experiential learning strategies, including skill development, situation analysis, concept mapping, unfolding case studies and cooperative learning, to examine the assessment, prevention, treatment, and response to aggressive behavior in patients and management of its consequences in self and others.

Case Study: Cancer

This elective case study offers students the opportunity to learn about the etiology, diagnosis, and management of cancer across the lifespan. Building on existing clinical knowledge and skills, students will explore cancer care from the perspectives of prevention, early detection, treatment, survivorship, and death. Observational clinical experiences and selected case studies will enhance students’ understanding of patients’ and families’ cancer experience.

Case Study: Case Analysis in Clinical Nutrition

This course is designed for present and future nurse professionals who wish to increase their knowledge of nutrition and expertise and application of knowledge to achieve optimal health of clients and themselves. Principles of medical nutrition therapy in health care delivery are emphasized in periods of physiologic stress and metabolic alterations. Individual nutrient requirements are considered from pathophysiologic and iatrogenic influences on nutritional status. Nutritional considerations for disease states will be explored through epidemiological, prevalence, incidence, treatment and research data. Understanding application of medical nutrition therapy are included through case analysis and field experiences

Case Study: Principles of Palliative Care

This course prepares students to collaborate effectively with an interdisciplinary team in assessing patients and families, and planning and evaluating palliative and end of life care for diverse populations with progressive illness in multiple health care settings. Course content and assignments focus on the nurse’s role in addressing the complex assessment and responses to the psychosocial and spiritual concerns of patients and caregivers across the trajectory of advanced illness.

Case Study: Home Health Care

This course examines the major aspects of home-based care across patients’ life spans from acute to long term care. New trends, advances, and issues in home management of complex conditions, innovative delivery systems and legal, ethical and policy consideration will be explored.