The faculty of the School of Nursing believe and support the purpose of the University of West Georgia, which is to provide students with “opportunities for intellectual and personal development through quality teaching, scholarly inquiry, creative endeavor, and service for the public good” and to offer “educational experiences that foster the development of leaders and productive citizens who make a positive impact throughout an increasingly global society.” The faculty are committed to creating a milieu for learning that fosters “educational excellence in a personal environment.” In pursuit of these beliefs, the faculty declare the following statements of our beliefs and assumptions:
People are unique and dynamic as thinking, caring, feeling, and intuitive contributors to society. People are holistic, representing an integration of mind, body, and spirit. They have spiritual-social-ethical beliefs and values that influence the perception of self, others, and the world. Each person has the potential for growth and the right to make choices and take the responsibility for choices made. People value human dignity, freedom, and truth and are altruistic in their capacity to be responsible in the care of self and others. These beliefs about persons refer to patients and other health care recipients, as well as students and faculty.
People construct meaning and develop knowledge through being in the world and interacting with it. Environment is the world around us. Environment includes other persons, families, groups, communities, cultures, things, and the natural world. A concern for the environment is essential for survival and the preservation of the context of our existence.
Health is a dynamic state of being in which there is a balanced integration of relationships, choices, and human potentials: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. The individual's perception of this balanced integration, or wholeness, is unique and self-determined. People experiencing illness or disability may perceive themselves as whole or healthy, even though society may view them as unhealthy.
Nursing, an art and a science, is creative and occurs in a variety of settings. Nursing involves the creation of a safe, nurturing, and healing environment emphasizing respect for the opinions, wishes, and goals of those receiving nursing care. The environment in which nursing is practiced is constantly changing, and nurses must be responsive to consumer and other political demands. In an attempt to prepare students to practice in a rapidly changing health care environment, the faculty believe the priorities set forth in Healthy People 2010 related to health promotion, maintenance, protection, and disease prevention provide direction for the selection of curricular content. As a component of preparing the profession of nursing for the evolving health care environment, we believe it is critical to provide education at the graduate level designed to foster utilization of theoretical knowledge in the management of health systems and the development and implementation of educational programs.
The domains of nursing are helping, teaching-coaching, diagnostic and patient monitoring, managing rapidly changing situations, administering and monitoring therapeutic interventions, ensuring quality of health care, and organizational and work-role competencies (Benner, 1984). Benner’s domains provide a framework for problem solving and describe what it is that nurses do. Within the domains of nursing, the nursing process provides a theoretical framework for guiding nursing care. The nursing process includes assessment, diagnosis, planning, intervention, and evaluation in the implementation of nursing practice.
Nursing care may be provided by a variety of practitioners. The professional nurse, a graduate of a baccalaureate nursing program, fulfills three roles: provider of care, manager of care, and member of a profession. In the first role, provider of care, the professional nurse provides competent nursing care to individuals, families, groups, and communities. This competent care assists others to achieve and maintain wholeness and/or to face death with dignity and comfort. The nurse prepared at the Master of Science in Nursing level functions in advanced practice roles related to the management and quality of health systems as well as in the areas of patient education and the education of nurses through the application of theory and participation in research and research utilization.
Within the second role, manager of care, professional nurses manage people and things. Their management style, responsive to change and collaborative in nature, reflects a commitment to caring and includes behaviors that recognize the holistic nature of people. Professional nurses are concerned with issues related to quality of care and may act as change agents in the health care or education setting. The nurse prepared at the graduate level has the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to collaborate with other health care providers to implement changes that will improve health care delivery and/or educational programs.
In their third role as members of the nursing profession, nurses assume individual accountability and responsibility. They practice within the legal and ethical boundaries of the nursing profession. Professional nurses participate as citizens in political/societal decision making and are involved in issues related to the quality of care. Professional nurses demonstrate commitment by participating in professional organizations, life-long learning, and activities that benefit the global community. At the graduate level, the nurse is expected to assume leadership roles within professional organizations. The graduate level nurse is also expected to attain a level of scholarship congruent with preparation for doctoral study.
Caring, critical thinking, holism, and communication are inherent in all roles of the professional nurse. In addition, the characteristics of competence (clinical and cultural), confidence, commitment, conscience, and collaboration are considered essential to the practice of nursing. The descriptions of these concepts follow:
Caring, a basic way of being, is the essence of nursing and means that people, interpersonal concerns, and things matter (Watson, 1979). Caring for self and others involves self-awareness and belief in personal empowerment. Caring includes maintaining academic and practice standards to ensure the quality of the profession. Caring extends beyond the limits of patients/clients, families, groups, and communities to other nurses, other members of the health care team, and to self. Caring is learned through a variety of life experiences and is enhanced by experiencing caring practices among students, teachers, clients, and members of the health care team.
Critical thinking, a composite of knowledge, skills, and attitudes, is purposeful mental activity that produces and evaluates ideas and is focused on deciding what to believe and do. Critical thinking involves evaluating information for professional decision making. Persons who are critical thinkers seek and evaluate information, think about other's ideas before accepting them, learn from others, reassess their own views with new information, and make their own judgments (Ruggerio, 2000). Critical thinking, for nurses, involves the use of scientific and humanistic concepts, nursing theory, and research in professional decision making.
Holism recognizes the interaction of mind-body-spirit within people. People are not comprised of distinct parts that can be treated separately, but are seen as “Whole.” People are energy systems who are in constant interaction with their environment. They possess the inherent ability to heal and recognize death as natural in the cycle of life. Within a holistic framework many ways of knowing are valued, and self-responsibility is regarded as the foundation of all health care.
Communication involves knowledge, skills, and attitudes integral to all the characteristics of professional practice. Clear, assertive, and honest communication is necessary to establish and maintain caring human relationships that form the basis of professional nursing. Effective written, oral, electronic, and nonverbal communication is required of professional nurses.
Competence is possessing knowledge, judgment, skills, energy, experience, and motivation to meet the demands of clinical practice. Competence includes the technical skills of nursing as well as skills related to problem solving, collaboration, and negotiation. Some of the attitudes needed to become competent are inquisitiveness, willingness to seek help, and an appreciation of lifelong learning. Cultural competence (AAN, 1992) is defined as “care that is sensitive to issues related to culture, race, gender, and sexual orientation” and is demonstrated by the ability to implement appropriate nursing care within the context of an individual or community’s values and health beliefs.
Confidence implies a pervading belief or trust in a person. It is a belief in one’s abilities to accomplish tasks. In this case, the trust of individual capabilities of those involved in a caring relationship—students, faculty, patients/clients, health care team members, and others. Confidence is demonstrated by an assertive demeanor, verbalized positive regard, willingness to learn new things, empowerment, and self-awareness. It involves the skills of communication, self-assessment and self-awareness, willingness to perform, speaking without hesitance as well as technical skills.
Commitment is the affective ability needed to keep one’s obligations congruent with one’s desires and to guide choices related to one’s trust, in this case, a nurse’s obligation to the profession of nursing. Commitment includes the attitudes of empowerment, advocacy, assertiveness, courage, self-responsibility and accountability, and a profound desire to “maintain and elevate the standards of the profession.” Commitment to nursing is demonstrated by employment in nursing, membership in professional organizations, participation in lifelong learning activities, pursuit of advanced degrees, and involvement in activities that benefit one’s community.
Conscience involves knowledge, skills, and attitudes constituting an awareness of one’s moral responsibility to self and other. Conscience serves as a guide to one’s personal and professional behaviors and involves right-making actions and inquiry into right and wrong. Professional nurses need knowledge of ethical theory, legal principles, moral development, and decision-making theory. Insight into personal values, as well as, the values of diverse societies supports the characteristics of conscience. Skills include ethical decision-making, value clarification, critical thinking, and conflict resolution. Conscience will be evidenced by such attitudes as open-mindedness, truth seeking, courage, examination of one’s values, and respect for cultural beliefs/values of others. Conscience involves practicing nursing within the legal prescription of the profession.
Collaboration, the ability to work with others for a common goal, typifies the move toward interdisciplinary health care. Caring nurses must be responsive to a number of constituents. The skills of collaboration include negotiation, communication, problem solving, and critical thinking. Collaborative attitudes include respect for diversity, a positive response to change, and belief in “power with” rather than “power over.”
The optimum setting of nursing education is an academic environment with critical linkages into the practical environment. This environment provides an opportunity for the acquisition of general and specific knowledge of nursing as well as the biological, physical, medical, and social sciences and the humanities. Essential to the acquisition of such knowledge are a sound theoretical base and current research findings.
Teaching and learning are reciprocal, lifelong growth processes that nurture and facilitate growth in all participants. Teacher-learners interact with learner-teachers; all teach and all learn. There are many ways to teach, learn, and to know—and all have value. Learning occurs through meaningful interaction and takes place when the whole person is involved and participative. Learning occurs when it is placed in context and involves the examination of accepted truths and cherished assumptions. Learning involves openness and the willingness to confront paradoxes.
Students are responsible for their own learning. Teachers facilitate learning and create an environment that empowers students to take responsibility for learning. Each student is unique with different learning potentials and ways of learning. The process of teaching and learning is as important as the content.
School of Nursing | University of West Georgia | 678-839-6552 | firstname.lastname@example.org