The School of Nursing has breathed fresh life into its curriculum for the Class of 2015 and onwards.
The school-wide changes were put in place in order to tie Nursing at the undergraduate level closely to practices within the profession, Nursing Dean Afaf Meleis said.
A study about professional education published by Carnegie Mellon Univestiy prompted the school to develop its new curriculum, Nursing professor Connie Scanga said.
“One of the strong findings was that professionals need to engage in situated learning instead of only theoretical and didactic learning,” Scanga said.
As a result, the new curriculum will place less emphasis on theory and more on the practice of nursing, Meleis said, adding students will be required to take more core Nursing classes during their freshman year.
Previously, “Anatomy” and “Physiology” was offered as a two-semester course for Nursing sophomores. Under the new curriculum, students will enroll in “Physiology” during the spring of their freshman year.
Both classes will become closely integrated with “Physical Assessment,” a course which teaches prospective nurses how to assess patients.
The curriculum was also renovated to promote using social media and technology in the classroom, Meleis added.
As a result, “Anatomy” will incorporate iPads and high definition cameras to facilitate in-class demonstrations.
Reflecting on the new changes, Nursing sophomore Madelyn Keyser said students like herself who have been educated under the old curriculum, “didn’t really see the application for nursing” until sophomore year when they began their clinical work. The new curriculum will send students into hospitals as early as freshman year and enable them to “think like a nurse” early on.
Nursing freshmen who have been learning under the new curriculum for a few weeks already recognize its rigour.
“It seems like they’re trying to cover a lot of the material really deeply in a short amount of time. I understand why they’re doing it, but it definitely seems overwhelming a lot of the time,” Nursing freshman Elise Taylor said.
“They’re pretty fast-paced, but they’re not as bad as I thought they would be,” Nursing freshman Faith Concepcion added.
Although most freshman have little idea of what the former Nursing curriculum entailed, they recognize the practical aspect of their coursework.
“Everything we’re learning is tied to a real-life scenario, a real case study. I really like it,” Nursing freshman Lydia Felter said.
The new curriculum is affecting more than just classes. Since freshmen will be starting their clinical experience earlier than their predecesors, they also must go through the stresses of meeting requirements for their clinicals, like passing background checks and becoming CPR certified.
While the new curriculum won’t affect upperclassmen schedules, it affects the ability of upperclassmen to help younger students. Before the new curriculum was implemented, there was an informal system in place where upperclassmen passed down their books to rising freshmen and offered advice about their upcoming classes.
“People are annoyed because they can’t sell their books. We can’t really be much help for them. It’s hard for them to ask because we don’t know. We don’t know how their classes are going to be,” said Nursing sophomore and Peer Advisor Kasey Benchimol.
The new curriculum is also starting controversy with some upperclassmen who are questioning the validity of their own courses before the curriculum change.
“It seems kind of weird to me because it makes me question our own curriculum. If they’re changing the year below ours, what’s wrong with our curriculum?” Nursing sophomore Mary Blackwell said.
Meleis is quick to counter this idea, though, as she says that previous courses are not necessarily dropped but transformed, and in some cases, integrated with other courses altogether.
No matter the challenges that the new curriculum may bring, most believe the curriculum change is for the better.
“The whole curriculum is visionary, idealistic in some respects, and no one else is doing it as far as we know, and certainly no one is doing it the way we are doing it,” Scanga said.
“People think of nursing in a closed way, and we want to open that up,” Meleis added.
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