Advanced Nursing Education
GRADUATE EDUCATION (master's and doctoral degrees) enables nurses to assume advanced roles in education, administration, research, and clinical practice. Advanced clinical practice nurses are nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse midwives, and nurse anesthetists. Nurses with graduate education bring new ideas and insights to nursing and the entire healthcare system, and they often influence the political system to effect change. Some of these roles developed because of change. Advanced practice nurses first evolved because of a shortage of physicians, then proliferated in response to managed care. Opportunities for nurses to redefine the role and practice of nursing continue to arise in these times when people demand change.
Master's Level Nursing Education
The number of master's level programs for advanced practice nursing increased dramatically in the 1990s and early twenty-first century. Most of the increase was in nurse practitioner programs in response to the demand for cost-effective care. However, schools continued to offer graduate degrees in nursing administration and education. Regardless of the role offered, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends that all master's level curricula share the same core content:
- critical thinking and clinical judgment
- primary healthcare, health promotion, patient education, self-care, rehabilitation, and alternative healthcare
- practice in multiple settings, including nontraditional settings (prisons, homeless shelters)
- outcome measures, quality indicators, case management, research methods, healthcare policy and economics, financial management, legislative advocacy, and management of data and technology
Master's curricula vary according to role and specialty; however, core content tends to be consistent in each program. Recommendations are that all master's programs have a core foundation curriculum that addresses theoretical foundations of nursing practice; research; policy, organization, and financing of healthcare; ethics; professional role development; human diversity and social issues; and health promotion and disease prevention. As with undergraduate programs, the content may be integrated into multiple courses or exist in stand-alone courses as in the following course examples.
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