The prelicensure nursing program at WGU uses a unifying theme that directed the development of the curriculum. The conceptual framework is derived from Patricia Benner's Three Apprenticeships of Cognitive Knowledge, Clinical Reasoning, and Ethical Comportment. It also includes an emphasis on competencies recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and Quality and Safety in Educating Nurses (QSEN) project.
Patricia Benner's Three Apprenticeships of cognitive knowledge, clinical reasoning, and ethical comportment are integrated into the competencies and objectives in each nursing area. Students are expected to demonstrate competency in content knowledge and skills, and to apply this knowledge in the form of clinical reasoning through simulation. Students further demonstrate competency in clinical reasoning and ethical comportment during clinical intensives. Benner's concepts of expertise in nursing practice focus on the novice to expert role of the nurse. While this is the same focus used in the post licensure programs, in the prelicensure BSN program, the focus is not on the nurse but on the nursing student as novice to expert. The novice is the new student with little or no experience in nursing. Throughout the program a student works with faculty in the didactic, simulation, and clinical settings to develop increasing knowledge, skill, and clinical reasoning. Upon graduation, students are expected to attain the expert student level, which is consistent with Benner's novice graduate nurse.
Our vision of the nurse-patient relationship includes a comprehensive view of the client as individual, family, and community. Our conceptualization of the nurse is a competent, caring, ethical professional who interacts with the client holistically to facilitate a journey to wellbeing across the health-illness continuum and across the lifespan. The nurse cares for diverse populations and engages self to care for others. In this role a nurse is detective, scientist, and manager of the healing environment.
The emphasis is placed on safe, quality care and advocacy that encourages the patient and family to become active members of their journey toward wellness. With a focus on community and cultural sensitivity, the individual is seen, not in isolation, but as a member of a family, a community, and the larger population, recognizing the effect one has on the other and the cultural heritage one brings to the interaction.