Program Design

College of Graduate Nursing practitioner students in instructional settings

The design of the Graduate Nursing programs is based on sensitivity to the traditional barriers to educational access and success that confront working health care professionals. To lower these barriers, Western University of Health Sciences has adopted a teaching-learning philosophy that recognizes adults as skilled learners, who come to the learning environment with specific goals and are ready to take responsibility for their own success in the program.

There are several important features:

  • Role transition emphasis
  • Performance standards for intellectual and professional skills
  • Knowledge and skill integration

One of these features is the role transition emphasis of the programs. A major consideration in devising outcome performance expectations was the entry level knowledge and skills of incoming students.

Master of Science in Nursing Entry Program 

Curriculum planners realized that students who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major, and are seeking to become RNs and transition into one of CGN’s master’s track, require a program of study that fits the needs of career oriented adult learners. The pre-licensure phase (four semesters) of the three or four years of study is campus-based with clinical practicum experiences in partner hospitals. Other innovative teaching strategies are used to facilitate learning styles of adult learners. The CGN faculty include the use of high fidelity simulators to promote active learning.

Master of Science in Nursing (Administrative Nurse Leader, Clinical Nurse Leader, Ambulatory Care Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner), Post-Masters FNP, and Doctor of Nursing Practice

The curriculum reflects this shift in emphasis from knowledge acquisition to knowledge application, and provides performance-based measures of success to ensure that program graduates will be able to carry out the required functions of their new role. Another feature is the inclusion of performance standards for essential intellectual and professional skills. Graduate programs must provide opportunities for the development of intellectual skills considered critical for professional practice. For this reason, the curriculum incorporates learning experiences that encourage frequent practice in research, oral and written communication, and critical analysis. Students are also required to develop a high level of competence with computers and the Internet, a professional skill of increasing importance in today’s health care system. A third feature is knowledge and skill integration across the curriculum. Just as advanced practice nursing is by nature a holistic, integrative profession, the curriculum designed to prepare such professionals must be a holistic, integrative learning experience. The interplay of courses offered each semester provides unique opportunities to integrate content from medical science, patient management, and advanced nursing practice.

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