Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Change in Direction for Nursing

Submitted by Craig Butterworth, PR coordinator, Virginia Community College System

The nursing curriculum at Virginia’s Community Colleges is undergoing a transformation.

The pursuit of an associate of applied science in nursing degree has historically been grounded in class work that focused on the disease process, recognizing symptoms and attending treatment protocols. And the course work differed, sometimes significantly, depending on the college where the student was enrolled. But beginning this fall, the classroom focus will shift from the practical to the conceptual, and it promises to be homogenous in its delivery.

Instead of emphasizing content, the learning process will focus on concepts, student-centered learning and the development of high-level thinking skills.

Dan Lewis, director of educational programs for Virginia’s Community Colleges, says the idea of a common, concept-based curriculum “bubbled up” several years ago and it’s been gaining momentum ever since.

“This initiative came directly from rank and file faculty and nursing deans and directors. From the very start, this work had its own synergy. It was a Herculean effort by a very dedicated group of nursing faculty and deans across the system.”

Liz Powell, associate professor of nursing at JTCC and chair of the Common Curriculum Committee, says the revamped curriculum represents a new way of thinking, one that focuses on deep learning of nursing’s most central concepts.

“We’re moving away from a content-laden curriculum. Instead, we’ll be taking a decidedly holistic approach that involves looking at concepts individually and how they relate to one another.”

Powell says the revised nursing curriculum consists of 11 brand new courses and will require 67 total credits taken over five semesters: 28 general education course credits and 39 nursing course credits.

“Courses in nursing programs build on one another from simple to complex and from a knowledge of facts to higher levels of thinking in the care of complex patient situations,” Powell says.

Lewis says the program constitutes an initiative like no other in its scope and magnitude. It rolled out at John Tyler, Reynolds, Germanna and Rappahannock on Aug. 21. The remaining 15 community colleges with nursing programs will see the curriculum implemented in the fall of 2018.

“We want to make sure the information that’s gleaned by the first four colleges is shared with the other 15. Instead of using the silo approach, we’re trying to share resources and lessons learned.”

And, Lewis points out that Virginia’s Community Colleges are taking the lead, positioning themselves well ahead of their four-year counterparts.

“We’re ahead of the baccalaureate programs because they don’t have the background in concept-based nursing.”'

Laura Osberger

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