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Online Master of Science in Nursing: Curriculum

Curriculum Details

36-39 Total Credits Required

Excel in today’s diverse health care community, provide your patients with superior outcomes, and learn to lead other nurses with Sacred Heart University’s CCNE-accredited Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

You can complete this 36- to 39-credit hour curriculum in just two years, or take as long as six years. Our asynchronous online curriculum fits your life as a busy working nurse and gives you the flexibility to learn wherever and whenever works best for you.

In one of three specializations — Clinical Nurse Leadership, Nursing Education, or Nursing Management and Executive Leadership — you’ll gain discipline-specific competencies that meet the needs of modern nursing.

CORE COURSES

This core course focuses on history, policy, and ethics in nursing and health care. It examines health care policy, including global health considerations, health care financing, quality and safety in health care, and the ethics of health care. Current practices in nursing and health care are viewed from the past and present as a way to contemplate the future. The course builds on a framework of critical thinking, as students explore aspects of the history of nursing and medicine, analysis of current policy development, and implications of the past for present and future actions in nursing and health care.

This course is one of the graduate core classes that provides the foundation for advanced practice nursing. The role of the advance practice nurse as a member of the profession will be emphasized. Students will be introduced to theories from nursing, natural, social, biological and organizational sciences to frame their future practice. Further, students consider issues of cultural diversity and competence to assure the delivery of culturally competent care and minimization of health disparities.

This course examines the field of research and its relationship to problems related to nursing and health care. Each step of the research process is explored in-depth to develop the skills to apply research to practice. Students apply critical analysis to relevant research literature to determine its usefulness and application. Statistical methods and concepts are reviewed and integrated throughout the course to promote an understanding of those concepts within the context of health care research. Emphasis is placed on evaluating research evidence for nursing practice. Prerequisite: MA 131

The primary focus of this course is to integrate best current evidence with clinical expertise and patient/family preferences and values for the delivery of optimal health care. To that end the emphasis of the course will be on critiquing and rating the research literature for application of research to practice and the development of an evidence based practice project. Select research designs frequently used in practice settings will also be explored. Quality improvement strategies, methods and issues will be discussed and applied to practice. Analysis and use of appropriate statistical methods will be integrated throughout the course.

CLINICAL NURSE LEADER SPECIALIZATION COURSES

This course, the first within the Family, Primary Care, and Community sequence, addresses selected family, primary care, and community theories within the context of advanced practice nursing and clinical leadership roles. The family system is viewed as both unique and dynamic, existing interdependently with the community and the environment and requiring advanced nursing expertise and caring at various times across the life cycle. Particular emphasis is placed on family and community assessment strategies, the impact of culture upon the family and community systems, and the impact of various primary care-oriented health problems on family roles and functions. In addition, relevant concepts and principles of epidemiology are applied to the current and emerging health status of families and communities. Faculty collaborate with students as they apply advanced clinical knowledge to the family system in a community setting. Students function interdependently with other health team members in the care of families and evaluate a plan of care using standards for advanced clinical practice.

This course further prepares each student to assess in-depth the pathophysiology of common disease states. Clinical pathology content addresses alterations in major body systems that are commonly found in the primary care settings, as well as common testing used in the diagnostic process. This course assists the student in the role of advanced practice nurse with the preparation to assess clients across the lifespan.

This course prepares the learner to assess in depth the biopsychosocial health status of clients across the life span by obtaining a complete and accurate health history and by performing a systematic physical examination. Acquired data will be used to formulate a comprehensive problem list for the client and refine documentation skills Content will be designed to provide correlation of assessment strategies with an understanding of the mechanisms of illness and health problems of the main body systems. Health and wellness in the context of disability will be addressed. This course assists in the socialization of the learner into the role of the clinical nurse leader or nurse educator in the current health care delivery system. The laboratory component enables the learner to develop comprehensive assessment skills. Prerequisite: NU 325

This course will focus on the pharmacotherapeutic principles of drugs most commonly used and evaluated by Master’s prepared nurse across healthcare settings. Basic pharmacological concepts, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacotherapeutics, as well as the principle classifications of drugs in clinical use today are discussed in relation to physiologic and psychologic concepts. The role of the Master’s prepared nurse in teaching patients safe and effective medication administration and assessment of medication management and patients with chronic disease is emphasized. A variety of interactive and experiential activities will be utilized to enable the student to apply pharmacological theory to clinical situations and patient education.

This course examines the Clinical Nurse Leader’s (CNL’s) responsibility for the management of healthcare across the lifespan and continuum of care while remaining cognizant of the global environment in which healthcare is provided. It is designed to introduce the student to the evolution of the CNL role and responsibilities as well as how the CNL functions as a member of the profession. Theory and research based knowledge in the design, coordination, and evaluation of the delivery of client care will be reviewed with special attention to financial and resource management together with quality improvement. Communication skills and strategies necessary to interact and collaborate with members of the interdisciplinary healthcare team in addition to developing a therapeutic alliance with the patient will be discussed.

This course is designed to introduce the Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL) to concepts directed towards maximizing patient outcomes through the management of illness and disease across the lifespan. The social, physical, psychological, and spiritual responses of the individual, family or caregiver to illness/ disease will be examined. Strategies for empowering patients and families to manage their chronic condition will be emphasized. Students will explore concepts of health promotion, illness prevention, and health maintenance of clients (individual, group, and/or community). Research on the outcomes of case and disease management is covered along with strategies for identifying and measuring outcomes of care. Understanding will aid the CNL in empowering the students, healthcare team, patients and families to manage chronic health conditions and to improve the design and delivery of health care services.

The immersion experience is divided over two modules: NU680 and NU681 constituting 6- credits in total. The two courses provide the opportunity for in-depth analysis of the CNL role within various health care settings and specialties through a guided role immersion practicum experience. The immersion experience focuses on the role of the clinical nurse leader as clinician, outcomes manager, client manager, client advocate, educator, information manager, systems analyst/risk anticipator, team member, member of the profession, and lifelong learner. Integration of prior coursework related to advanced assessment and pathophysiology, pharmacology, information systems, ethics, research, evidence-based practice and health care systems occurs through clinical role practice. A team of preceptors provide guidance and support as CNL students identify and confirm the role components of the CNL while analyzing the organizational context for this new role.

This capstone course is the final in the nursing sequence for the clinical nurse leader role practicum providing the opportunity for in-depth analysis of the CNL role within various health care settings and specialties through a guided role immersion practicum experience. Integration of prior coursework related to advanced assessment and pathophysiology, pharmacology, information systems, ethics, research, evidence-based practice and health care systems occurs through clinical role practice, case studies, and student presentations. A team of preceptors provide guidance and support as CNL students identify and enact the role components of the CNL role while analyzing the organizational context for this new role.

NURSING MANAGEMENT & EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP SPECIALIZATION COURSES

This course focuses on the current health care delivery system and the impact on patient care. An evaluation of the health care delivery system will incorporate the impact of social issues, economics, politics, culture, education and technology on the health care system. Past, future and contemporary trends in health care delivery will be incorporated into the analysis of organizational Micro and Macro systems.

This course introduces the student to contemporary theories of leadership, change, complexity science and organizational structure and design. The underlying framework of the course is transformational leadership and complexity science. Concepts such the clinical microsystems, nursing care innovations, strategic planning, and change, are covered. Students will be introduced to the concept of evidence based management and encourage to support their ideas with evidence. Students will complete an assessment of their leadership strengths and weaknesses and develop a professional leadership plan which will guide their progress throughout the rest of the program.

An introduction to health information systems as tools for decision making and communication in health care. This course builds on prior knowledge of systems theory and utilizes change theory and information processing theory to analyze, manage and evaluate health care information. Emphasis is also on the ability to utilize information systems in the delivery of patient care and the exploration of the variety of tools available to assist in the analysis of quality care.

This course provides an overview to the process of budgeting in the Health Care setting. This course will explore the building blocks that are utilized to secure sound budget projections. This course will also review and explore the Health Care System and the multiple payers and their impact on the ability to utilize information systems in the development and ongoing analysis of financial data.

In this course the student will appreciate the rationale for and strategies for creating a positive work environment for nursing and the interprofessional team. Topics will include organizational culture, structural empowerment, shared governance, and the adoption of Magnet Hospital tenets (no matter the setting) among others. Human resource management principle such as selection, development, performant appraisal and nurse satisfaction will be considered within the framework of creating an environment of professional practice. Further how a positive work environment supports quality and safety will be discussed based on evidence. Fostering high performance from individuals and well as the team will be stressed.

During this course the students will proceed in a step by step progression through the continuous quality improvement (CQI) process. This approach prepares the student with the necessary skills to complete a CQI capstone project in the practicum courses. The student will review the historical background and theory of quality improvement and apply it to the current health care environment. After a review of the national and regulatory issues of patient safety, the student will identify one issue to use in the course to apply CQI methods.

This is the next to the last course in the nursing sequence for the Nursing Management and Executive Leadership track. Nursing 672 will focus at the larger organization’s macro-system level. Students will apply and analyze the theories, competencies and concepts of previous courses in a designated role practicum experience using a preceptor. Further, students will examine the application of theories / evidence from scholarly readings and their application to practice through a (private) weekly journal entry to the professor that will be appropriately referenced. They will also share their reflections with other course participants through a weekly discussion using appreciative inquiry to describe a significant learning on the strengths of their clinical site focused on the course objectives. The core role competencies for the nurse manager and executive leader frame the course activities including managing client needs and expectations, marketing, managing financial resources, assessing quality and safety, visioning and strategic planning, designing care management systems, and developing operational plans for accountability and ethical practice. Leadership strategies for accomplishing this work are explored. Current issues and trends in health care, nursing management and executive leadership are covered in course readings and integrated into the course assessments/project. In this course, the student will perform an organizational assessment and evaluation (macro-system level) in two parts and complete Part I of the capstone project.

This is the last course in the nursing sequence for the Nursing Management and Executive Leadership track. Nursing 673 will focus on the larger organization’s macro-system level. Students will apply and analyze the theories, competencies and concepts of previous courses in a designated role practicum experience using a preceptor. Further, students will examine the application of theories/evidence from scholarly readings and their application to practice through a (private) weekly journal entry to the professor that will be appropriately referenced. Students will also be sharing their reflections with other course participants through a weekly discussion using appreciative inquiry to describe a significant learning on the strengths of their clinical site focused on the course objectives. The core role competencies for the nurse manager and executive leader frame the course activities and include assessing the following areas: human resource management, workforce development, succession planning, culture of safety, The Joint Commission (TJC) national patient safety goals, public reporting and accountability, automation in healthcare and redesign of workflow, meaningful use, accountability care organizations, healthcare reform, care across the continuum, and raising the bar – learning from excellence. Current issues and trends in health care, nursing management and executive leadership and are covered in course readings and integrated into the course assessments/project. In this course, students will complete their capstone project and the organizational assessment and evaluation (macro-system level).

NURSING EDUCATION SPECIALIZATION COURSES

This course further prepares each student to assess in-depth the pathophysiology of common disease states. Clinical pathology content addresses alterations in major body systems that are commonly found in the primary care settings, as well as common testing used in the diagnostic process. This course assists the student in the role of advanced practice nurse with the preparation to assess clients across the lifespan.

This course prepares the learner to assess in depth the biopsychosocial health status of clients across the life span by obtaining a complete and accurate health history and by performing a systematic physical examination. Acquired data will be used to formulate a comprehensive problem list for the client and refine documentation skills Content will be designed to provide correlation of assessment strategies with an understanding of the mechanisms of illness and health problems of the main body systems. Health and wellness in the context of disability will be addressed. This course assists in the socialization of the learner into the role of the clinical nurse leader or nurse educator in the current health care delivery system. The laboratory component enables the learner to develop comprehensive assessment skills. Prerequisite: NU 325

This course will focus on the pharmacotherapeutic principles of drugs most commonly used and evaluated by Master’s prepared nurse across healthcare settings. Basic pharmacological concepts, including pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and pharmacotherapeutics, as well as the principle classifications of drugs in clinical use today are discussed in relation to physiologic and psychologic concepts. The role of the Master’s prepared nurse in teaching patients safe and effective medication administration and assessment of medication management and patients with chronic disease is emphasized. A variety of interactive and experiential activities will be utilized to enable the student to apply pharmacological theory to clinical situations and patient education.

An introduction to health information systems as tools for decision making and communication in health care. This course builds on prior knowledge of systems theory and utilizes change theory and information processing theory to analyze, manage and evaluate health care information. Emphasis is also on the ability to utilize information systems in the delivery of patient care and the exploration of the variety of tools available to assist in the analysis of quality care.

This course covers research-based educational theory and evidence based teaching/learning strategies. The theories will be examined for their application in a variety of settings, level of education, and for the adult learner. It will introduce the impact of diversity and emphasis is placed on who the learner is and how he/she learns. External issues and trends impacting on nursing education will be explored including ethical/legal considerations in course curriculum design and implementation; virtual environments for teaching/learning and external issues and trends impacting on nursing education will be explored.

This course prepares the student to design and implement curriculum based on evidence-based teaching/learning theory. Focus is on the process of curriculum development for an individual course including course objectives, content, learning activities, delivery of the content and student evaluation. The role of the faculty in program evaluation of the curriculum is explored.

The focus of the course is to explore the master’s prepared nurse’s role in education in a hospital or clinical setting. Theory and research based knowledge in the design, coordination, and evaluation of the delivery of patient care and staff education will be reviewed. Communication skills and strategies necessary to interact and collaborate with members of the interdisciplinary health care team in addition to develop a therapeutic alliance with the patient will be discussed.

This is the first course in the nursing sequence for the role immersion experience in nursing education. Students apply and analyze the theories, competencies, and concepts of the two previous courses in a designated role practicum experience using a preceptor. Through this experience the student will develop an evidence based teaching project. Further, the student applies theory to practice in seminar discussion and readings. Current issues and trends in health care and nursing are integrated within each topical area.

This is the final course in the nursing sequence for the role immersion experience in nursing education. Students apply and analyze the theories, competencies, and concepts of the previous nurse educator courses in a designated role practicum experience using a preceptor. Through this experience the student will develop an evidence based teaching proposal. Further, the student applies theory to practice in seminar discussion and readings. Current issues and trends in health care and nursing are integrated within each topical area.