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Sample Plan of Study

Fall Year 1 

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.

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.

NURS 547 is a graduate-level research methods course approved for Penn BSN students only.

Spring Year 1

NURS 1030
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.


Prerequisite: NURS 1010 AND NURS 1020

1 Course Unit

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.

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.

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.

Summer Year 1

NURS 2350
Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Mental Health Nursing

This course examines the influences of psychological, emtional, cognitive and social development of individuals and groups across the lifespan. Students combine this foundational knowledge with their developing understanding of social determinants of health. This course will help students learn to identify and assess individual, family and group level needs for those persons at risk for or experiencing behavioral or psychiatric/mental health challenges using evidence-based interventions applicable across the continuum of care. Emphasis is placed on the role of the professional nurse in assuring the delivery of equitable behavioral and pychiatric/mental health nursing care. The course addresses nursing phenomena of concern related the meanings of a behavioral or mental mental health illness and the development of healing relationships with individuals, families, and groups. In addition, the student will learn essential advanced communication strategies, including exposure to skills necessary for motivational interviewing, essential to engage individual and families in mental health promotion and treatment. This course provides the tools to enable students to construct effective interventions groups with patients, collaborate with disciplinary and inter-professional colleagues, and understand the healing dimensions of environments. Clinical and simulation experiences are designed to provide sufficient opportunities for clinical reasoning, clinical care, and clinically situated knowledge integration.


Prerequisite: NURS 1650

1.5 Course Unit

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.

Fall Year 2

Public Health Nursing Care in Communities

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.

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.

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: Addressing the Social Determinants of Health: Community Engagement Immersion

This case study offers students experiential learning to develop an in-depth understanding of social determinants of health in vulnerable, underserved populations and to collaboratively design and refine existing health promotion programs based on the needs of the community site. Grounded on an approach that builds upon the strengths of communities, this course emphasizes the development of techniques to lead effective, collaborative, health-focused interventions for underserved populations. Students are required to draw on skills and knowledge obtained from previous classes related to social determinants of health and community engagement and will engage in specific creative, innovative community-based programs developed for populations across the life span. These culturally relevant programs, which have been shown to positively impact communities, create opportunities for students to address the social determinants of health, build engagement and leadership skills and increase program success and sustainability.

Case Study: Self-care of Chronic Illness


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. Suboptimal breastfeeding rates are a global public health issue. Despite the World Health Organization recommending early exclusive breastfeeding with continued breastfeeding through at least age 2, these recommendations are not being met. Less than 50% of infants are breastfed within the first hour of birth and only 40% of infants receive exclusive human milk for the first 6 months.

The World Health Organization has promoted breastfeeding as a primary preventive health strategy for over 25 years. In January 2011, the United States Surgeon General released a Call for Breastfeeding Action stating, “we all have a role in helping mothers to breastfeed.”

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 from around the world.

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.