By: Mary Jo Risetter, MSN, RN & Kathleen Szymanski, MSN, RN
Lake Michigan College
Regardless of the size or location of the institution, nursing faculty struggle with the same challenges when it comes to addressing safety with nursing students.
No project evokes such a feeling of dread among nurse educators as a curriculum review – except maybe an accreditation self-study! After our program’s last accreditation site visit, it became apparent that our curriculum was a little dusty. Our mission, philosophy, and program objectives were just words on a page. They didn’t drive our daily work with our students.
Many of our faculty had never participated in a curriculum review. We weren’t even sure where to start. We were confident that we already had a solidly founded and successful program, as evidenced by our accreditation status, NCLEX pass rates, graduate/employer feedback, and graduate employment rates. We didn’t want to abandon all the elements that made our program strong, but we still saw the need to modernize. Our faculty was empowered to better define our program objectives. Rather than writing more nice, yet meaningless words, we made our program objectives a living set of guidelines. They were relevant and resonated with our faculty on a personal level. It was our goal to create objectives we could actively utilize in planning our curricula. This shift in thought process got the ball rolling and made the curriculum planning process more exciting.
As we looked for guiding principles to base our curriculum upon, QSEN was the natural choice. Our faculty could easily get onboard with using QSEN since we already utilized QSEN in many parts of our curriculum, we just didn’t necessarily call it “QSEN”. Some of our faculty had already been incorporating similar teaching strategies such as “The Little Room of Errors” (https://qsen.org/little-room-of-errors/) from the QSEN website. As we did more research, we all caught the QSEN bug. But, how were we to turn this into an entire curriculum? We determined it was time to seek expert consultation in order to better integrate QSEN into our new curriculum.
This past May, four members of our faculty attended the QSEN conference in San Antonio. Coming from an associate degree nursing program in rural Michigan, we were a little intimidated by the agenda at first. Our goal in attending this conference was to find guidance from the presentations by faculty at baccalaureate and higher degree research programs. We were surprised to find that regardless of the size or location of the institution, nursing faculty struggle with the same challenges when it comes to addressing safety with nursing students. Despite our initial hesitation, the conference provided a wealth of information that was applicable to our program. The presenters and participants were all incredibly generous with their time, expertise, and resources. We were so inspired that a few of us even joined the Academic Taskforce! We came home ready to “QSEN-ize” with our bagful of ideas, resources, and connections.
I wish I could say that as soon as we returned from our conference that our new curriculum wrote itself. Sorry, there is no link on the QSEN website that will develop a new curriculum for you! In fact, we are still working on developing our program. As you know, that is a never-ending job! Through networking, we talked to other faculty who went through the process before us. They generously shared their pitfalls and triumphs in order to make our journey smoother. We now have concrete examples of QSEN in action at other schools to guide us through the process.
Even if your own program’s curriculum isn’t based upon QSEN, check out the website. Attend a conference. Join in the dialogue. You will find that QSEN-izing your curriculum is easy to do and will make a positive difference in your lesson planning and interactions with students. Once you are able to break down even the most complex nursing interventions into safety principles based upon research, students see an increased value in providing quality holistic care rather than just “completing the steps correctly to pass a skill validation”.
No matter where your facility is located or how big the program, we all strive to provide our patients with the highest levels of evidenced-based practice, high quality, and safe care. As Stephen Covey points out in, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “ Synergy [means that] the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Working together we are able to do so much more than what we could do on our own.” In a world driven by competition and profitability, nurses can come together to work towards what is best for our patients!
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