Monday, June 27, 2011

Nursing Curriculum phasing out theory

This article "focuses on the potential weakening of nursing theory in curricula" due to decrowding. Particularly, the authors focus on the application of middle range and practice nursing theories. "The goal of this article is to stimulate a dialogue among educators, practitioners, and researchers about ways to ensure a solid foundation for, and emphasis of, theory in nursing education."

As nursing entered the modern era, several nursing scientists attempted to define and contain the idea of nursing within a conceptual theory. The end result was the continuing development of a wide variation of theories that together provide a grand view of what nursing can be. In recent years, nursing as a whole has begun to shift towards becoming more and more dependent in evidence based practice. Increasing roles within practice have necessitated an foundational expertise in research proven standards and policies. Unfortunately, this emphasis has initiated a pendulum shift gaining momentum and leaving theory behind as a fading specialty.
Nursing educators are challenged to include nursing theory in all levels of curricula when faced with many influences and requirements competing for course content, placement, and credit. Some of the essential influences and content, such as quality, safety, evidence-based practice, and research methods are important. However, the critical emphasis on theory and its relationship to practice and research must be preserved. This article addresses the influences that may threaten this relationship at the baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral levels of nursing education. Strategies are offered to ensure nurse educators continue to offer appropriate nursing theory content to advance both nursing science and practice

The authors begin by providing a concise, yet referenced loaded, review of theoretical underpinnings with in education. With ample familiarization and application of grand/traditional theorist, more attention is need on focusing on middle range and practice theories.

Following a sequential outline, the current issues and problems with theory in education are described as follows:
  • Baccalaureate
    • Content-Laden Curricula
    • The Role of Conceptual Frameworks
    • Pedagogy and Theory
  • Advanced Practice
    • Evidence and Advanced Practice
    • Appropriate Theory Content
    • Essentials, Guidelines, and Standards
  • Doctoral Levels
    • Integration of Theory with Methods
    • The Contribution of Theory to the Development of Scholars

Suggested solutions are proposed in a similar fashion with emphasis on conceptual learning and application of theoretical frameworks.

The authors conclude by hoping this article will encourage "dialogue" that will help strengthen theory in curriculum across nursing education. However, an additional difficulty in finding nursing faculty comfortable with nursing theories was mentioned. Thus the importance of educating upcoming graduate students in theory is even more self evident.

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Article Referenced

Donohue-Porter, Patricia; Forbes, Maryann O.; and White, Jane H. (2011) "Nursing Theory in Curricula Today: Challenges for Faculty at all Levels of Education," International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship: Vol. 8: Iss. 1, Article 14.
DOI: 10.2202/1548-923X.2225