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The mission and purposes of the Department of Nursing are congruent with and supportive of the mission and educational purposes of Muskingum University. The faculty share the belief that Muskingum University provides: quality academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences in the setting of a residential, coeducational, church related university and in the context of a caring community where individual fulfillment is encouraged and human dignity is respected.? The Muskingum University Department of Nursing services a rural area of East Central Ohio with a community representing a diverse cultural background. The rural context of the University provides a setting for explaining the application of knowledge to professional nursing practice. The faculty believe that the concepts of human, environment, health, nursing and nursing education are central to the development of baccalaureate nursing programs. These concepts serve as a foundation for the curriculum design and selection of instructional methods and practices.

Each human is a unique being of worth and dignity, holistic in nature, and whose body, mind, and spirit develop throughout the lifespan. Each human is motivated by a set of perceptions, values, and beliefs. Humans have power to be self-directive, to adapt or change behavior, to strive toward a healthy lifestyle, and to seek personal fulfillment for their lives. Humans consist of individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and global populations.

The environment consists of biophysical and sociocultural factors that impact the health of humans. There is constant interaction between humans and the environment. Humans should view the environment as an integral part of health relationship between the environment and health for individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and global populations. Humans can positively alter the environment to affect the health of themselves and others by promoting, maintaining, or changing the environment.

Health and illness are processes along a continuum that reflect the interaction between physiological, psychosocial and spiritual aspects of human life. Both processes depend upon lifestyle, environmental and genetic factors which create major determinants of illness, disease, disabilities and death. Humans= potential and resources influence their abilities to cope with changes occurring along the heath-illness continuum. Optimal health is the functioning of the human at maximum potential in an integrated way within the environment.

The basis of professional nursing is in liberal arts education and integrates knowledge from nursing, the arts, sciences and the humanities. In a liberal arts setting, professional nurses learn to use oral and written communication and information technology to communicate effectively. Nursing focuses on the promotion of health, prevention of disease and disability and provision of care for those who are ill or in the process of dying. The method of scientific inquiry is used with the nursing process framework to assess, diagnose, plan, implement and evaluate patient responses. Critical thinking is the basis for the nurse’s application and use of knowledge and experiences to make clinical decisions. Nurses evaluate and apply evidenced-based research findings into practice.

Professional nurses must be able to practice collaboratively and autonomously within ever-changing, complex healthcare delivery systems that require effective leadership, communication and technological skills to work productively with interprofessional personnel in a variety of healthcare settings. Professional nurses also practice in healthcare delivery systems that focus on cultural, historical, economic, legal, organizational, environmental, educational and political perspectives. Cultural competence is the process which the nurse seeks to work effectively within the cultural context of the individual, family or community. Cultural competence is defined in terms of cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill and cultural encounter.

Based on nursing’s history and practices, caring is a process of nurturant activities and values that is essential to the practice of nursing. The University and the Department of Nursing seek to promote a positive influence on the health of the community through the caring process.

Nursing education is an interactive teaching-learning process within an environment conducive to the development of collegial relationships. Education is a dynamic process that directs and facilitates learning. Teaching is the ability of structuring content and processes for student learning. Learning is an active, life-long process of acquiring knowledge and skills that brings about actual or potential changes in behavior. Learning is facilitated when activities are goal-directed, purposeful, and meaningful for the learner. The faculty guide, direct, facilitate and evaluate learning while promoting critical thinking, active participation and independent thinking by students.

In the twenty-first century, the professional nurse must have knowledge and skills that prepare one for a long-term career in a changing practice environment which addresses the needs of individuals across the lifespan, including culturally diverse, vulnerable and underserved populations. With knowledge that is complex and changing, baccalaureate professional nurses cannot possess all the knowledge necessary to provide high quality nursing practice. Therefore, baccalaureate professional nurses need to promote self-evaluation and life-long learning.

Program Objectives

The students who successfully complete the Nursing Program will have satisfied the objectives identified in Table 1. The Pre-licensure Traditional Track is delivered in three levels, sophomore, junior, and senior years. The objectives are identified for the completion of each level. The RN-BSN Completion Track students will have met the objectives identified in the third level when they successfully complete the requirements of that track.

Table of Program Objectives (pdf)

Organizing Framework

The organizing framework is supported by process and content organizers that implement the philosophy, mission, purpose and objectives of the nursing program.  The concepts identified in the organizers are used with the program objectives as guidelines to develop specific level objectives and then, course objectives.  The integration of the development of the curriculum from design through implementation assures that the philosophy, mission, purpose, and objectives of the nursing program are emphasized within the organizing framework.

The organizers identified in the organizing framework provide guidance for the development of level and course objectives.  The process organizers are consistently used and reinforced throughout the clinical nursing courses.  The content organizers are used to identify and plan content and learning opportunities that build progressively year to year in the nursing program as represented in Figure 1.

Organizing framework model
Figure 1. Organizing framework model for the Nursing curriculum.

There are four process organizers:  caring, nursing process with an emphases on critical thinking, culture and communication.

Caring. This organizer is derived from each of the concepts in the organizing framework:  human, environment, health, and nursing.  Caring is essential to the practice of nursing.  Caring is a process comprised of nurturant activities and values that encompasses the student=s empathy for the patient as well as the ability to incorporate these affective characteristics into compassionate, sensitive and appropriate nursing care.  This organizer is reflected in the second program objective.

Nursing Process/Critical Thinking. This process organizer is derived from the concept of nursing from the organizing framework of the curriculum.  Learning to use nursing process as a means for critical thinking and as a creative approach to patient care becomes a worthwhile endeavor.  Nursing process involves five phases:  assessment, analysis and diagnosis, planning, implementation of planned nursing interventions and evaluation.

Assessment. This is the initial phase in the nursing process.  It involves the subjective and objective data from the patient and family to determine the patient=s health status.

Analysis and diagnosis. This is the validation of data collected and compared with norms to determine what data may indicate a health problem or identify a pattern.  Diagnosis is a development of a statement which describes the health condition or alteration in one=s life processes which are within the domain of nursing.

Planning. This begins with identification of patient goals and determination of ways to reach these goals. This phase requires a great deal of critical thinking, analyzing and planning.

Implementation of planned nursing interventions. This occurs when the planned nursing interventions are initiated and carried out to achieve specific outcomes.

Evaluation. This is the final phase of the nursing process.  Evaluation is an ongoing planned systematic comparison of the patient's health status with the identified outcome criteria.

The student uses the nursing process/critical thinking during the initial nursing courses and then, progressively develops it with greater complexity throughout the curriculum.  Critical thinking is incorporated in this process by appraising and defining problems and exploring alternative solutions and their outcomes.  This organizer is related to the program objective.

Culture. This process organizer is derived from the concepts of human and nursing.  The student needs to be prepared to work with individuals from various cultures and to present healthcare in ways that are appropriate for each individual in different cultures.  As the student progresses through the curriculum, an increased development of understanding related to cultural diversity evolves.  Cultural competence is manifested through attributes such as cultural awareness, cultural knowledge, cultural skill and cultural encounter.

Cultural awareness. This involves the process of becoming sensitive to interactions with other cultures.

Cultural knowledge. This is the process in which the students gain knowledge concerning other world views of culture.

Cultural skill. This involves the ability to conduct a cultural assessment.

Cultural encounter. This is the process that enables the student to engage in cross-cultural interactions with individuals from culturally diverse backgrounds.  This organizer is directly related to the second program objective.

Communication. This organizer is derived from the concepts of human and nursing.  Communication is a complex, ongoing, interactive process that forms the basis for building interpersonal relationships among individuals, families, groups, organizations, communities and global populations. Communication includes listening, as well as oral, nonverbal, written and information technology skills. The first and sixth objectives relate to this organizer.

The four content organizers are: human system, healthcare delivery system, research, and leadership.

Human System. This organizer is derived from the two major concepts of human and environment.  The focus of the human system in the care of patients in the clinical courses moves from the individual to the family and then to the group, community, organization and global populations.  The third objective applies to this content organizer.

Healthcare Delivery System. This organizer is derived from each of the concepts in the organizing framework; human, health, environment and nursing. Healthcare delivery consists of four levels: disease prevention, health promotion chronicity, acute and critical care.

Disease prevention. This involves methods of keeping an illness or injury from occurring, diagnosing and treating a disease in its early development and preventing further deterioration of individual=s health.

Health promotion. This involves activities which emphasize maximizing health such as patient teaching, behavioral change, family dynamics, holistic assessment, etc.

Chronicity. This is a disease state that has one or more of the defined characteristics:

l. is permanent;
2. leaves permanent disability;
3. causes nonreversible pathophysiology;
4. requires special training of patient in rehabilitation; and
5. requires a long period of care.

Acute. This is a disease state that has a rapid onset, short duration and is self-limiting.

Critical care. This is the nursing which deals specifically with human responses to life-threatening problems.

Research. This content organizer is derived from the concept of nursing. Research is a major organizer in the nursing curriculum where the focus is to understand the basic elements of the research process and models for applying evidenced-based research findings to practice.  Research progresses through the curriculum from reading research to applying evidenced-based research findings to practice. The fourth program objective relates to this content organizer.

Leadership. This content organizer is derived from the concepts of nursing and environment. Leadership is a process in which the leader creates a climate of change so that an organization will have the adaptability needed to survive. Principles of leadership are used by effective nurse managers when planning, organizing and directing healthcare delivery systems.  This organizer is implemented in the curriculum through interpersonal relationships, systems theory and change theory. The fifth, seventh and ninth objectives relate to this organizer.

Supporting theories and concepts derived from the major concepts in the Muskingum University Department of Nursing philosophy are listed in Table 6.  These theories and concepts are developed in the nursing courses throughout the curriculum.

Glossary of Terms

Accountability. Being responsible for one’s actions and accept the consequences for one’s behavior.

Assessment. Process of systematically collecting data pertaining to the individual, family, community or global populations. Assessment is the first phase of the nursing process.

Caring. A nurturing means of relating to a valued other person to whom one feels a personal sense of commitment and responsibility. Caring is manifested through knowing, being with, doing for, enabling and maintaining belief.

Change Agent. A graduate level professional nurse who demonstrates expertise in making innovative ideas to enhance the practice of nursing and institute changes within organizations.

Collaboration. To work cooperatively with others to achieve common goals.

Communication. Process by which information is given from one individual to another individual either directly or indirectly.

Curriculum. A total of learning activities that are designed to achieve specific educational goals.

Community. A group of people who have common characteristics such as age, occupation, common bonds, location, etc.

Compassion. An awareness of one’s relationship with others which involves participation in their experiences and emotions.

Competence. The ability of having knowledge, skills and judgment necessary to meet professional nursing responsibilities.

Concept. A basic idea; a symbol or a general impression expressed in words.

Content Organizers. Concepts related to content outlined in the organizing framework to identify and plan progressive learning experiences that build on a yearly basis throughout the nursing courses in the curriculum.

Coordination. Two or more people providing services to an individual or group and keeping all participants informed of their activities.

Critical Thinking. Purposeful thinking in which the thinker appraises and defines problems and explores alternative solutions and their results.

Culture. Complex concept that is part of an individual’s make-up and includes knowledge, beliefs, values, customs and habits acquired by members of a society.

Environment. All cultural, developmental, physical and psychosocial conditions external to an individual that influence the growth and development of an individual or group.

Family. A group of individuals who have kinship and are mutually concerned with each other’s affairs and ambitions.

Group. A gathering of two or more individuals who share a common purpose.

Health. A dynamic process that is multidimensional in nature that enables the individual to reach for the highest level of functioning on a health-illness continuum.

Healthcare Delivery. System by which healthcare is provided to individuals, families, groups, communities and global populations.

Health Promotion. Activities directed toward enhancing functioning toward health and optimal well-being.

Human. A unique being with intellect; the ability to reason and make choices; the capacity to live; and the capacity to appreciate, interact with, and respond emotionally to the environment.

Individual. Social being who is rational and sentient.

Leadership. A process of influencing individuals to accomplish goals or to move toward goal achievement.

Learning. Process-oriented and relates to developing abilities which leads to a permanent change in behavior.

Nursing. A professional discipline based on theory, practice and research which involves individuals, families, groups, communities and global populations.

Nursing Diagnosis. A statement which identifies a health condition in one’s life processes which pertains to nursing.

Nursing Process. A model for nursing practice using a problem-solving approach which involves the phases of assessment, nursing diagnosis, plan, implementation and evaluation.

Nursing Theory. Provides a way of identifying and expressing key ideas about the essence of nursing practice.

Organization. Comprised of a group of individuals who are systematically united in a functional structure.

Organizing Framework. Relates to one aspect of the total curriculum process which is grounded in the philosophy and terminal objectives of the nursing program.  It provides the sequential ordering and following of content and processes identified in the framework.

Organizer. A concept that guides the organizing structure. Organizers are either process or content related.

Process. A series of progressive changes and has an organizational structure that enables a goal to be achieved.

Process Organizers. Concepts identified in the organizing framework that are developed horizontally throughout the nursing curriculum and reinforced.

Research. Systematic inquiry that uses scientific methods to identify questions and solve problems.

Responsibility. Obligation of the individual to fulfill the terms of an agreement.

Role. Set of expected behaviors that relate to specific position being held.

Rural Nursing. Guides rural nursing practice, research and education by understanding and addressing unique healthcare needs and preferences of rural persons.  (Weinert and Long, 1991).

Self-Direction. Ability to make independent decisions about one’s life.

Populations (Global). A group of individuals living in communities who have common expectations and organized patterns of communications. The health of populations focuses on the preventive action targeting the broad distribution of diseases and health determinants.

Service. An act of helping or benefiting another; behavior conducive to the benefit of another.

Teaching. Serves as one component of the educational process which involves an intentional act of communicating information to the learner.

Theory. A hypothesis involving a plausible explanation to a concept or a relationship between concepts from which predictions can be made.

Therapeutic Nursing Interventions. Nursing actions designed to achieve specific outcomes of nursing care for individuals or aggregates. Therapeutic nursing interventions is part of the implementation phase of the nursing process.