A curriculum is a methodical arrangement of the total summation of experiences tailored by a school for a specific group of students to achieve the aspirations of a particular educational program. In other words, a curriculum is a runway for achieving pre-determined educational goals, and it is seen as an outline for an educational program. Nursing curriculum means the learning prospects as well as the learning activities that include clinical experiences and practices that the teaching staff plans and puts into practice in diverse settings for the nursing students, for a specific time frame to achieve specific objectives. Apart from defining the nursing curriculum, the paper will discuss the impacts of current societal attributes as well as student attributes and needs on the current nursing curricula.
Definition and Conceptualization of Nursing Curriculum
Definitions of a curriculum have existed since about the 1820s. They were first used in Scotland, then later adopted professionally in the USA a century later. The word itself originates from Latin currere, to run a course. Initially, it meant the knowledge passed from generation to the next. A common understanding of a curriculum is a series of studies with precise courses, leading to academic certification that might either be a diploma or a degree. The scope and interpretation of the curriculum have greatly expanded due to many definitions as a response to social forces, creating uncertainty and discrepancy in the meaning of the original word. Nonetheless, definitions are significant since they express educators’ view that will affect how a curriculum is applied. Furthermore, the definitions detail the range of work to be completed by the curriculum developers. Regardless of the different definitions and conceptions, a nursing curriculum is implemented with the intention that learning takes place.
The nursing curriculum can be conceptualized as either evidence-informed, context-relevant, or unified. In this context, a nursing curriculum is defined as the entirety of the theoretical methods, the curriculum goals, overall plan, policies, resources, and evaluation methods. The curriculum encompasses all matters within the authority of school that affect learning and progression of nursing students. An evidence-informed nursing curriculum is based on methodically and resolutely collected evidence about the context of the subject matter offered, students, learning, teaching, nursing education, and practice as well as clients and their responses to health situations. The evidence collected is interpreted by curriculum developers who will then create and appraise plans to the realities of the school. An evidence-informed curriculum is ever- changing and developing as new evidence emerge. The curriculum remains up to date due to continuous modification.
A context-relevant nursing curriculum is one that is responsive to the present and expected societal, health, and community circumstances of the nursing students as well as the present and expected essentials of the nursing profession. It also aligns with the mission, viewpoint, and goals of the school of nursing, and it should be feasible within the realities of the institution as well as the community. This type of nursing curriculum is characterized by and based on the forces that influence society, health care system, learning, nursing students, and the school of nursing. Although the nursing curricula of many schools will appear comparatively similar, those that are strongly context-based will have distinct characteristics that reflect their local circumstances.
A unified curriculum contains components that are theoretical, reasonably, cohesively, and visibly relaxed. Philosophical methods and professional abilities, as well as curriculum concepts, are apparent in the curriculum goals. The level and course learning objectives are drawn from the curriculum goals. Moreover, the course title reflects the practical methods and curriculum concepts, and the learning strategies are in line with the goals, and the practical and educational methods. All the three models of a nursing curriculum are based on evidence regarding nursing education, practice, and nursing students as well as societal and institutional circumstances.
Stakeholders for a Nursing a Nursing Curriculum
Involvement of stakeholders in developing a nursing curriculum helps to minimize the gap between the practicing professional nurses and the demands of stakeholders. In most cases, the stakeholders require to be involved in the curriculum development process to ensure that nursing students are educated well enough to meet their demands.
There are many stakeholders involved in a nursing curriculum, and they include the nursing school, the government, the nursing students, the Nursing Council, protective associations, and patients as well as the practicing nurses and other healthcare providers. The patients are part of the stakeholder group because they contribute to the nursing practice and they are the end users of the system.
The nursing school or nursing faculty is the main stakeholder of a nursing curriculum as it utilizes it directly. The development of the nursing curriculum is also influenced by various institutional factors such as its mission, philosophical approaches, and the school culture. The nursing students are also significant stakeholders. They are affected by the curriculum directly and they represent the future professionals of the nursing discipline. The nursing council regulates the nursing profession through legislation and it can give self-regulatory powers to licensing entities. It also establishes and maintains educational, professional, and practice standards for the nursing profession. Through the Ministry of Health, the government is responsible for the national health care system and its agencies. There are numerous agencies that fall under the Ministry of Health. The practicing nurses and other healthcare providers are other groups of stakeholders mostly referred to as ‘Frontline’ workers in the system as they work directly with the patients.
Institutional and College/Program Mission and Vision Statements vs Curriculum Goals
Typically, nursing schools have a mission and a vision statement sin