The graduate nursing curriculum consists of courses in three areas: the graduate nursing core, the advanced practice core, and the clinical and/or functional specialization.
The graduate nursing core courses provide support for clinical and functional role development and focus on such areas as research; policy, organization and financing of health care; ethics; theoretical foundations of nursing practice; and human diversity and social issues. The graduate nursing core culminates in a capstone course in which all candidates for the master of science degree in nursing demonstrate the ability to integrate theory, research, and clinical and/or functional practice.
The advanced practice nursing core courses build on knowledge acquired from the graduate nursing core and provide students with foundational understanding of professional role development, advanced assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology.
Advanced practice clinical specialization courses reflect the changing trends in health care that require application of advanced clinical skills and development of collaborative roles. All clinical management courses provide for precepted clinical practice that concentrates on health restoration, health maintenance and health promotion. Clinical practice courses incorporate recommendations from ANA's Standards and Scope of Nursing Practice; Healthy People 2010; AACN's Essentials of Master's Education for Advanced Practice Nursing; and NONPF's Curriculum Guidelines and Program Standards for Nurse Practitioner Education. Students who select any of the advance practice options, with the exception of the family nurse practitioner option, also complete course work in the functional specialization area of nursing education. All graduate nursing students must have the following documents on file before beginning clinical experiences: current copy of professional license, CPR certification, health clearance, professional liability insurance, and criminal record and child abuse check.
The curricular options currently offered by the nursing department include:
Clinical Nurse Specialist (cohorted admission): The adult option provides students with advanced clinical nursing skills to address health promotion needs of adults and to collaborate with members of the health care team in managing episodic and chronic health care problems of adults in acute care, ambulatory care, HMOs, long-term care, and home care settings. This option consists of 43 credits in the areas of the graduate nursing core, advanced practice core, adult health clinical specialization and functional specialization. Students must complete 500 hours of clinical practice under the direct supervision of qualified preceptors. Graduates who complete this course of study may take the examination for certification by the American Nurses' Credentialing Center (ANCC) as a clinical nurse specialist in medical-surgical nursing.
Family Nurse Practitioner: The Family Nurse Practitioner option prepares students to function as principal providers of primary health care to families and individuals across the life span. The focus of this 45-credit program of study is the primary care management of acute episodic and stable, chronic health problems of individuals and families. Students complete the graduate nursing core, the advanced practice core, and clinical specialization courses along with a minimum of 630 hours of direct clinical practice under the supervision of qualified nurse practitioner and physician preceptors. Graduates are certified as nurse practitioners in family health and qualify to take national family nurse practitioner certification examinations offered by the ANCC and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.