Human beings are viewed as open energy fields with unique life experiences. As energy fields, they are greater than and different from the sum of their parts and cannot be predicted from knowledge of their parts. Humans, as holistic beings, are unique, dynamic, sentient, and multidimensional, capable of abstract reasoning, creativity, aesthetic appreciation and self-responsibility. Language, empathy, caring, and other abstract patterns of communication are aspects of an individually high level of complexity and diversity and enable one to increase knowledge of self and environment. Humans are viewed as valued persons, to be respected, nurtured and understood with the right to make informed choices regarding their health.
For the purpose of study in nursing, biological, psychological, spiritual, intellectual and sociocultural dimensions of human beings and stages of human development are delineated as they affect behavior and health. These dimensions operate within and upon the human being in an open, interrelated, interdependent, and interactive way. The nursing client is an open system, continually changing in mutual process with the changing environment. Recipients of nursing actions may be well or ill and include individuals, families and communities.
Environment is the landscape and geography of human social experience, the setting or context of experience as everyday life and includes variations in space, time and quality. This geography includes personal, social, national, global, and beyond. Environment also includes societal beliefs, values, mores, customs, and expectations. The environment is an energy field in mutual process with the human energy field and is conceptualized as the arena in which the nursing client encounters aesthetic beauty, caring relationships, threats to wellness and the lived experiences of health. Dimensions that may affect health include physical, psychosocial, cultural, historical and developmental processes, as well as the political and economic aspects of the social world.
Health, a dynamic process, is the synthesis of wellness and illness and is defined by the perception of the client across the life span. This view focuses on the entire nature of the client in physical, social, aesthetic, and moral realms. Health is contextual and relational. Wellness, in this view, is the lived experience of congruence between one’s possibilities and one’s realities and is based on caring and feeling cared for. Illness is defined as the lived experience of loss or dysfunction that can be mediated by caring relationships. Inherent in this conceptualization is each client’s approach to stress and coping. The degree or level of health is an expression of the mutual interactive process between human beings and their environment.
Nursing is an academic discipline and a practice profession. It is the art and science of holistic health care guided by the values of human freedom, choice, and responsibility. Nursing science is a body of knowledge arrived at through theory development, research, and logical analysis. Nursing and other supporting theories are essential to guide and advance nursing practice. The art of nursing practice, actualized through therapeutic nursing interventions, is the creative use of this knowledge in human care. Nurses use critical thinking and clinical judgment to provide evidence-based care to individuals, families, aggregates, and communities to achieve an optimal level of client wellness in diverse nursing settings/contexts. Clinical judgment skills are therefore essential for professional nursing practice.
Human caring as the moral ideal of nursing is the central focus of professional practice. It involves concern and empathy, and a commitment to the client’s lived experience of human health and the relationships among wellness, illness, and disease. The nurse, as a person, is engaged as an active partner in the human care transactions with clients across the life span.
Human care and human care transactions seek to protect, enhance, and preserve human worth and dignity. Human caring involves values, a will and a commitment to care, communication, knowledge, caring actions and consequences. Human care is an epistemic endeavor that defines both nurse and client and requires study, reflection, and action. Caring is contextual, specific and individual and involves organized, specific practice that is related to caring for and about others. Caring is nursing’s source of power.
Nurses function autonomously and use power to shape the profession and empower clients through caring partnerships and other transactions. Within this framework, power is defined as the capacity to participate knowingly in the nature of change and is characterized by awareness, advocacy, choice, freedom to act intentionally, healing and involvement in creating changes.
Nurses use critical thinking to facilitate translation of knowledge and skill into professional nursing practice. The nursing process, a form of critical thinking, is a methodology for nursing practice, deliberate, systematic, and goal-oriented. Deliberative behaviors for the process are observation, intuition, reflection, caring, empowering, communication, assessment, and choice of alternative actions. Nursing practice incorporates intellectual, interpersonal, communication and psychomotor skills in the care of individuals, families, aggregates and communities, regardless of setting, and emphasizes a collaborative relationship with other health care providers.
Multiple aspects of the complex role of the humanitarian nurse, such as learner, clinician and leader derive from the responsibility to provide diagnostic, technologic, supportive and therapeutic care; to protect the rights, safety and welfare of clients; to improve health care delivery, to influence health and social policy, and to contribute to the development of the profession.
The goal of nursing is humanistic enhancement of health potential in human beings as well as caring for the well, ill and the dying. Excellence in nursing requires commitment, caring and critical thinking in terms of mastery, status and control over practice.
Learning is a dynamic, self-initiated, life long process, that when successful manifests in the ability to change in thinking, valuing and behaving. Learning is facilitated through systematic inquiry, expert role modeling, mutual respect and dynamic transactions among faculty, students, nurses, clients and others. Ultimately, learning is the application of information into the lived experience, translating cognitive acquisition to praxis, with the goal of benefiting the larger society.
The baccalaureate graduate practices at the advanced beginner level, (Benner, 1984) and operates on abstract principles, formal models and theories to function safely in a clinical situation. With this knowledge base and through experience, the new graduate can develop context-dependent judgment and skill that can be acquired only in real situations. Building on advanced beginner skills and knowledge, the master’s graduate moves toward the expert level of practice.
Caring in this curriculum mandates that the nurse possess the characteristics of empathy, respect, altruism and caring (AACN, pg. 8). Preparation for the first professional degree in nursing is at the baccalaureate level and best occurs in institutions whose primary aim is a liberal education and which foster a commitment to human dignity, individual worth, social justice and multicultural understanding in a pluralistic society. Baccalaureate nursing education is based upon a study of nursing, the sciences and general studies and provides a foundation for graduate study as well as for continuing personal and professional growth.
The whole academic community shares responsibility for the education of the student. Knowledge acquired at the college or university level builds on previous experience and learning and is enhanced by collaboration among faculty from many disciplines. Nursing faculty are responsible for helping students to integrate knowledge from the liberal arts and sciences into professional nursing education and practice. Liberally educated nurses make informed and responsible ethical choices and help shape the future of society as well as the nursing profession (AACN, pg. 7,8). Baccalaureate and Master’s nursing education provides a course of study which promotes increasing independence in the acquisition of knowledge, critical thinking, communication, analytical and leadership skills. Value formation and openness to diversity are necessary to function as a productive member of the community and as a professional nurse.
The purposes of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at The College of New Jersey are to prepare nurses to:
Enter the practice of professional nursing as an advanced beginner.
Assume the responsibilities of an educated person in society.
Participate in the advancement of the profession.
Pursue advanced study.
Engage in life-long learning.
Preparation for the second professional degree in nursing is at the Master’s Degree level and best occurs in institutions that have graduate education as part of their mission. Graduate education focuses on the integration of three processes: transmission, utilization and development of knowledge. Through advanced study in a specialized role, emphasis is placed upon the synthesis of theory and praxis, which is utilized in professional nursing. Advanced study emphasizes analysis, synthesis and utilization of knowledge from diverse areas of learning combined with systematic investigation of the concepts underlying advanced nursing practice and leadership in changing environments.
The purpose of the graduate program in nursing is to prepare nurses for advanced practice. To that end, the program provides opportunities for the student to develop further competency in the areas of critical thinking, clinical decision-making, scientific inquiry and leadership as they pertain to the health of individuals and families.
The purposes of the Master of Science in Nursing program are to prepare nurses to:
Utilize theoretical and empirical knowledge as a basis for advanced nursing practice.
Use critical thinking and advanced clinical decision making to assess the health needs of individuals and families and to develop comprehensive, quality, cost-effective health promotion and illness management plans.
Pursue doctoral study.