M.S. Nursing, Education (RN to MSN Option) Areas of Study

The Masters of Science in Nursing (RN to MSN option) degree is a competency-based program that builds on the foundation of previous nursing education at the associate degree or diploma levels. The BSN portion of the degree focuses on expanding nursing knowledge in areas of research, theory, community concepts, healthcare policy, therapeutic interventions, and current trends in healthcare. The Master of Science, Nursing Education specialty degree further prepares graduates to be educators, leaders and change agents in diverse educational and practice settings. Graduates are prepared to lead collaborative academic-practice partnerships that strengthen nursing and advance health in diverse populations. As Academic Nurse Educators, graduates demonstrate a professional presence by helping nursing students acquire the knowledge, skills and competencies to work effectively in inter-professional teams across a variety of settings. Masters of Science in Nursing Education students will experience theoretical applications and practical perspectives regarding learning styles, the development and socialization of learners, strategies to facilitate learning, and contemporary design and development of high-quality courses and assessments and trends that are currently relevant to nursing education. The content, resources, activities, and assessments in this program are consistent with recommendations from American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the National League for Nursing. Hallmarks of this program include: (a) authentic learning experiences, b) evidence-based course preparation, c) program mentoring, and d) self-paced learning in an asynchronous online learning environment.

Nursing Core

Advanced Standing for RN License

Foundations of Success

Professional Leadership and Communication in Healthcare
The Professional Communication and Leadership in Healthcare course is designed to help students prepare for success in the online environment at Western Governors University and beyond. Student success starts with the social support and self-reflective awareness that will prepare students to weather the challenges of academic programs. In this course students will participate in group activities and complete several individual assignments. The group activities are aimed at finding support and insight from other students. The assignments are intended to give the student an opportunity to reflect about where they are and where they would like to be. The activities in each group meeting are designed to give students several tools they can use to achieve success. This course is designed as an intensive learning experience. Students will attend group meetings during the term. At each meeting students will engage in activities that help them understand their own educational journey and find support and inspiration in the journey of others.

General Education

English Composition I
English Composition I introduces learners to the types of writing and thinking that are valued in college and beyond. Students will practice writing in several genres with emphasis placed on writing and revising academic arguments. Instruction and exercises in grammar, mechanics, research documentation, and style are paired with each module so that writers can practice these skills as necessary. Comp I is a foundational course designed to help students prepare for success at the college level. There are no prerequisites for English Composition I.

Survey of United States Constitution and Government
This course is an introduction to the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. government. Topics include (1) structure and relevance of the U.S. Constitution, (2) structure and function of governmental branches, and (3) political participation and policy making.

Introduction to Communication
This introductory communication course allows students to become familiar with the fundamental communication theories and practices necessary to engage in healthy professional and personal relationships. Students will survey human communication on multiple levels and critically apply the theoretical grounding of the course to interpersonal, intercultural, small group, and public presentational contexts. The course also encourages students to consider the influence of language, perception, culture, and media on their daily communicative interactions. In addition to theory, students will engage in the application of effective communication skills through systematically preparing and delivering an oral presentation. By practicing these fundamental skills in human communication, students become more competent communicators as they develop more flexible, useful, and discriminatory communicative practices in a variety of contexts.

Introduction to Humanities
This introductory humanities course allows students to practice essential writing, communication, and critical thinking skills necessary to engage in civic and professional interactions as mature, informed adults. Whether through studying literature, visual and performing arts, or philosophy, all humanities courses stress the need to form reasoned, analytical, and articulate responses to cultural and creative works. Studying a wide variety of creative works allows students to more effectively enter the global community with a broad and enlightened perspective.

Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
This course introduces students to human development across the lifespan. This will include an introductory survey of cognitive, psychological, and physical growth. Students will gain an understanding in regards to the emergence of personality, identity, gender and sexuality, social relationships, emotion, language, and moral development through life. This will include milestones such as education, achievement, work, dying, and death.

Introduction to Psychology
In this course, students will develop an understanding of psychology and how it helps them better understand others and themselves. Students will learn general theories about psychological development, the structure of the brain, and how psychologists study behavior. They will gain an understanding of both normal and disordered psychological behaviors, as well as general applications of the science of psychology in society (such as personality typing and counseling).

Introduction to Sociology
This course teaches students to think like sociologists, in other words, to see and understand the hidden rules, or norms, by which people live, and how they free or restrain behavior. Students will learn about socializing institutions, such as schools and families, as well as workplace organizations and governments. Participants will also learn how people deviate from the rules by challenging norms, and how such behavior may result in social change, either on a large scale or within small groups.

Applied Healthcare Statistics
Applied Healthcare Probability and Statistics is designed to help you develop competence in the fundamental concepts of basic mathematics, introductory algebra, and statistics and probability. These concepts include: basic arithmetic with fractions and signed numbers; introductory algebra and graphing; descriptive statistics; regression and correlation; and probability. Statistical data and probability are now commonplace in the healthcare field. You need to be able to make informed decisions about which studies and results are valid, which are not, and how those results affect your decisions. This course will give you background in what constitutes sound research design and how to appropriately model phenomena using statistical data. Additionally, you will be able to calculate simple probabilities, especially based on events which occur in the healthcare profession. This course will prepare you for your studies at WGU, as well as in the healthcare profession.

Health Sciences

Anatomy and Physiology I
Anatomy and Physiology I examines the structures and functions of the human body. The course is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of human anatomy and physiology, including the interdependent operational relationships among them. Students will use a dissection lab to study organ systems of the human body in their healthy state including the digestive, skeletal, sensory, respiratory, reproductive, nervous, muscular, cardiovascular, lymphatic, integumentary, endocrine and renal systems. By examining these organ systems in a healthy state, healthcare professionals are more adept to recognize when a something is functioning abnormally, which is a key component to providing effective care to patients. For nursing students this is the first of two anatomy and physiology courses within the program of study. This course has no prerequisites.

Anatomy and Physiology II
This course introduces advanced concepts of human anatomy and physiology, through the investigation of the structures and functions of the body's organ systems. Students will have the opportunity to explore the body through laboratory experience and apply the concepts covered in this course. For nursing students this is the second of two anatomy and physiology courses within the program of study.

Clinical Microbiology
Clinical Microbiology introduces general concepts, methods, and applications of microbiology from a health sciences perspective. The course is designed to provide healthcare professionals with a basic understanding of how various diseases are transmitted and controlled. Students will examine the structure and function of microorganisms, including the roles that they play in causing major diseases. The course also explores immunological, pathological and epidemiological factors associated with disease. To assist students in developing an applied, patient-focused understanding of microbiology, this course is complimented by several lab experiments which allow students to: practice aseptic techniques, grow bacteria and fungi, identify characteristics of bacteria and yeast based on biochemical and environmental tests, determine antibiotic susceptibility, discover the microorganisms growing on objects and surfaces, and determine the Gram characteristic of bacteria. This course has no prerequisites.

Chemistry Content

Biochemistry covers the structure and function of the four major polymers produced by living organisms. These include nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. This course focuses on application! Be sure to understand the underlying biochemistry in order to grasp how it is applied. By successfully completing this course, you will gain an introductory understanding of the chemicals and reactions that sustain life. You will also begin to see the importance of this subject matter to health.

Nursing Theory and Practice

Care of the Older Adult
Care of the Older Adult adapts the concepts from prior coursework to the care of older adults. An understanding of the effects that policy and legislation have on how healthcare systems treat aging patients sets a foundation for improving their care. Students will apply health assessment skills and evidence-based standards in such a way to account for the specific needs of older adults. Emphasis is placed on the importance of maintaining the dignity of older adults by focusing on cultural, religious, spiritual, and communication needs and by collaborating on care with older adults, families, and caregivers.

Health Assessment
The Health Assessment course is designed to enhance students’ knowledge and skills in health promotion, the early detection of illness and prevention of disease. To that end the course provides relevant content and skills necessary to perform a comprehensive physical assessment of patients throughout the lifespan. Students are engaged in these processes through interviewing, history taking and demonstration of an advanced-level physical examination. Dominant models, theories and perspectives related to evidence-based wellness practices and health education strategies also are included in this challenging course. Competency is measured through successful completion of one objective assessment and two performance tasks. It is recommended that students plan to complete C349 in four to six weeks.

Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing
Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing will assist students in becoming familiar with foundational theories and models of health promotion applicable to the community health nursing environment. Students will develop an understanding of how policies and resources influence the health of populations. Focus is concentrated on learning the importance of a community assessment to improve or resolve a community health issue. Students will be introduced to the relationships between cultures and communities and the steps necessary to create community collaboration with the goal to improve or resolve community health issues in a variety of settings. Students will gain a greater understanding of health systems in the United States, global health issues, quality-of-life issues, cultural influences, community collaboration, and emergency preparedness.

Evidence-Based Practice and Applied Nursing Research
The Evidence-Based Practice and Applied Nursing Research course will help you to learn how to design and conduct research to answer important questions about improving nursing practice and patient care delivery outcomes. After you are introduced to the basics of evidence-based practice, you will continue to implement the principles throughout your clinical experience. This will allow you to graduate with more competence and confidence to become a leader in the healing environment.

Health and Wellness Through Nutritional Science
Nutritional ignorance or misunderstandings are at the root of the health problems that most Americans face today. Nurses need to be armed with the most current information available about nutrition science including how to understand nutritional content of food, implications of exercise and activity on food consumption and weight management, and management of community or population specific nutritional challenges. The Nutrition for Contemporary Society course should prepare nurses to provide support, guidance and teaching about incorporation of sound nutritional principles into daily life for health promotion. This course covers the following concepts: nutrition to support wellness; healthy nutritional choices; nutrition and physical activity; nutrition through the lifecycle; safety and security of food; and nutrition and global health environments.

Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing Field Experience
This course will assist students to become familiar with clinical aspects of health promotion and disease prevention, applicable to the community health nursing environment. Students will practice skills based on clinical priorities, methodology, and resources that positively influence the health of populations. Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills by applying principles of community health nursing in a variety of settings. Students will design, implement and evaluate a project in community health. Students will develop health promotion and disease prevention strategies for population groups.

Advanced Professional Roles and Values
The Advanced Professional Roles and Values course bridges the undergraduate nurse to higher level knowledge and accountability by examining roles of advanced professional practice. Current issues, professional and personal values, and ethical issues are examined along with scholarship and advanced practice roles.

Nursing Science

Organizational Systems and Quality Leadership
Nurses serve as clinicians, managers, and mentors to shape the future of healthcare and impact patient care outcomes in positive ways. This course will help students to be more confident and better prepared to assume leadership roles regardless of their position in the healthcare delivery system.This advanced leadership course focuses on the concepts of Patient Safety, Improvement science, balancing cost, quality and access through the triple aim, leadership and patient/family centered care. Students will develop mastery of advanced competencies particularly in patient safety in quality improvement science.

Advanced Information Management and the Application of Technology
In this course you will examine the complementary roles of the master’s level-prepared nursing information technology professionals, including informaticists and quality officers. You will analyze current and emerging technologies, data management, ethical, legal and regulatory, best-practice evidence, and bio-health informatics using decision-making support systems at the point of care.

MSN Professional Nursing Core

Professional Presence and Influence
Who we are and how we behave affects others. Our professional presence in therapeutic settings can support or inhibit well-being not only in patients, but also in the rest of the health care team, in the family and support system of the patients, and in the health care organization as a whole. This course will help registered nurses manage this impact by recognizing situations and practices that support a positive environment and cultivating actions and responses to achieve and maintain this environment. The growth of self-knowledge will expand nurses’ ability to direct influence in ways that are intended rather than in random or destructive ways..

Translational Research for Practice and Populations
This graduate-level course builds on your baccalaureate-level statistical knowledge to help you develop skills in analyzing, interpreting, and translating research into nursing practice using principles of patient-centered care and applications to individuals and populations.

Organizational Leadership and Interprofessional Team Development
This graduate-level course builds on baccalaureate-level leadership knowledge to develop application skills in complex healthcare environments with diverse teams. Graduates will develop knowledge and competencies in the following areas:

  • leadership theory
  • systems and complexity theory
  • advanced communication
  • building consensus

Knowledge, skills, and abilities related to creating cultures of safety and leading quality improvement are key parts of this course and of contemporary leadership. Most importantly, students will develop and establish deep understanding of leadership roles within organizations, a central theme in the course.

Upon successful completion of this course, Students will demonstrate: critical decision making, critical analysis, and visionary thinking to lead and affect positive healthcare environments; the ability to build consensus and communicate a compelling vision that facilitates teamwork.

Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
In Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice, students will gain application skills by examining syndromes rather than looking at body systems independently. The course includes pathophysiologies, the associated pharmacological treatments, and social and environmental impacts. Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice is an integrated examination of five common and important disease processes:

  • asthma
  • heart failure
  • obesity
  • traumatic brain injury
  • depression

These processes are relevant to advanced nursing practice because of their prevalence and impact on the healthcare system and the health of the nation.

Contemporary Pharmacotherapeutics
This course provides the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the therapeutic use of pharmacologic agents, herbals, and supplements. Students will explore the pharmacologic treatment of major health problems and examine the principles of pharmacogenomics. The effects of culture, ethnicity, age, pregnancy, gender, healthcare setting, and funding of pharmacologic therapy will be emphasized. Legal aspects of prescribing will be fully addressed. Case studies will be utilized to present some of these concepts.

Comprehensive Health Assessment for Patients and Populations
In this course, students will learn about the principles of health assessment from the individual to the global level. Students will learn to perform a comprehensive functional health assessment that includes social structures, family history, and environmental situations, from the individual patient to the population. This course builds on prior knowledge gained in previous courses and in nursing practice, in areas such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, and epidemiology, and focus on applying this knowledge in various populations with common disorders. This course is roughly divided into three parts:

  • Advanced health assessment focusing on abnormal findings for common disease.
  • Integrating health assessment findings into a population, considering such issue as culture, spirituality, and continuum.
  • Functionality of clients based upon the problems and populations.

Essentials of Advanced Nursing Practice Field Experience
The Essentials of Advanced Nursing Practice Field Experience course gives you an opportunity to apply leadership knowledge to evaluate a healthcare facility and then recommend an organizational change to improve population health. In this course you will integrate and apply your learning in a clinical experience working with a nurse leader. You will demonstrate and document the following skills:

  • lead change to improve quality health in populations
  • advance a culture of excellence through lifelong learning
  • build and lead collaborative interprofessional care teams
  • navigate and integrate care services across the healthcare system
  • design innovative nursing practices
  • translate evidence into practice

Policy, Politics, and Global Health Trends
Social, political, and economic factors influence policies that impact health outcomes in acute care settings in communities, nationally and globally. Nurse leaders need to understand the determinants of health as well as how legal and regulatory processes, healthcare finances, research, the role of professional organizations, and special interest groups/lobbyists impact health outcomes.This course provides a framework for understanding the organization of healthcare delivery and financing systems in the U.S. and other nations. It addresses how policies are made and factors that influence policies at local, national, and global levels that impact health/wellness and the nursing profession. The roles of values, ethical theories, stakeholder interests, research, and recent legislation related to health policy and health outcomes will be explored. The nurse leader will gain expertise in effecting change through active participation in influencing or developing policies that impact health.

Nursing Education

Evolving Roles of Nurse Educators in Diverse Environments
Evolving Roles of Nurse Educators examines the multidimensional roles of a contemporary academic nurse educator. This course explores the roles and responsibilities of the nurse educator as a teacher, leader, change agent, and curriculum innovator. Students will also examine the importance of personal and professional development by developing strategies that promote academic integrity, cultural sensitivity, social justice, and ethical/legal values in diverse environments. The course emphasizes the responsibility of nurse educators to utilize communication, collaboration, and leadership in mitigating challenges in academic nursing education.

Facilitation of Context-Based Student-Centered Learning
Facilitation of Context-Based Student-Centered Learning explores how the nurse educator will incorporate authentic experiences into the creation of course plans that facilitate scholarly inquiry, collaboration, and knowledge acquisition in varied educational environments. Emphasis is placed on innovative, transformational, and experiential teaching and learning strategies to facilitate student development of professional context-based nursing principles, knowledge, skills, and behavior. Evolving Roles of Nurse Educators in Diverse Environments is a prerequisite to this course.

Contemporary Curriculum Design and Development in Nursing Education
Contemporary Curriculum Design and Development in Nursing Education analyzes the concepts of creating curriculum based on national nursing accreditation standards and instructional design best practices. Nurse educator students will create course content that supports learning in diverse, real-world environments where nurse educators facilitate learning. Instructional design strategies for delivering course content will reflect the mission of academic institution programs, contemporary trends in nursing education, and the needs of key stakeholders in nursing education and practice. Facilitation of Context-Based Student-Centered Learning is a prerequisite to this course.

Assessment and Evaluation Strategies for Measuring Student Learning
Assessment and Evaluation Strategies for Measuring Student Learning addresses the academic nurse educator’s role in the design, development, implementation, and evaluation of student achievement outcomes in nursing education programs. This course requires students to integrate best practices from nursing theory and theories of learning to assess student learning in diverse educational settings. Topics include validity, reliability, and practicality of assessments, interpreting item difficulty and discrimination test results, and analyzing student achievement and learning outcomes data. This course has no prerequisites.

Emerging Trends and Challenges in 21st Century Nursing Education
Emerging Trends and Challenges in 21st Century Nursing Education analyzes the emerging trends, technologies, and challenges that academic nurse educators encounter when facilitating learning in diverse healthcare settings. Students will focus on the necessity of interprofessional collaboration, and the barriers and facilitators to overcoming the challenges associated with teaching and learning in nursing. Topics include the impact of emerging technology, challenges in nursing practice, and the role of the academic nurse educator as a scholar and a nursing education policy advocate. This course has no prerequisites.

Nursing Education Field Experience
The Nursing Education Field Experience provides the academic nurse educator student an opportunity to work collaboratively with academic mentors and interprofessional stakeholders to analyze the need-gap for a curriculum change, innovation, or improvement. Based on the identified need-gap, the graduate student will design and develop a course that reflects evidence-based instructional design and assessment principles and practices. This course prepares students for the role of an Academic Nurse Educator, as an agent for change and quality improvement in nursing education.

Nurse Educator Capstone
The Nursing Education Capstone course provides the Academic Nurse Educator student an opportunity to apply previous course work towards the completion of an evidence-based curriculum proposal project. During this course students will build on previous work during their Nursing Education Field Experience course by planning the implementation and evaluation phases of their proposed curriculum change, innovation or improvement. The capstone proposal project represents a synthesis of competencies across the Masters Science of Nursing—Nursing Education degree program, which prepares them to lead, manage, and transform nursing education in diverse and complex academic settings.

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