Changes coming to nursing curriculum

Pathophysiology students sitting, ready for the lecture to begin. Many of these students were recently accepted into the school of nursing for the fall and will be the last to take this course prior to entering the program.

Faith Hadley

The curriculum for the School of Nursing has recently undergone modifications that will soon be put into place for the benefit of Washburn’s pre-nursing majors.

The pathophysiology and pharmacology classes are each being split into two-semester courses. Both classes were originally taken, separately, in one semester.

Pathophysiology is the study of the disease processes that occur in the body. Pharmacology informs students of various drugs’ administration and how they function in the body. The courses are highly interrelated, as a working understanding of how a disease works is necessary for proper and effective comprehension of a drug.

Along with the split of both courses into two separate semesters, pathophysiology will be moved from a prerequisite for the nursing program into the School of Nursing curriculum. There were multiple prompts for these changes. However, many faculty favored having pathophysiology as a prerequisite.

“It really [allows] them to grasp the nursing content easier once they [start] getting heavy doses of it in the nursing curriculum,” said Assistant Dean of Nursing Marian Jamieson.

In spite of this, the class was a stumbling block for many students. Multiple difficult prerequisites meant that if a student wished to retake a class, his or her graduation could be prolonged another semester.

This presented a possible loss of students to other programs that wouldn’t prolong a student’s time in school. Many students also found it difficult to complete all of the prerequisite classes within four semesters. The transfer of pathophysiology to within the nursing school curriculum will ease these difficulties.

Another purpose for these changes was to increase exposure to these subjects to help with learning and retention of the information. A common attitude among students of all disciplines while taking their prerequisite courses is to be checking classes off a list and to never have to think about them again. That attitude is very problematic with pathophysiology, as it is an integral topic throughout all of nursing school and nursing practice.

Students will now learn these somewhat difficult topics in conjunction with diagnosis methods and contact with patients who have those diseases and are taking those medications.

“You are tying in what you’re learning with what you are actually seeing, touching, and listening to,” said Sue Unruh, who currently teaches pathophysiology and pharmacology in the nursing school.

Unruh was also a member of the undergraduate education committee for the School of Nursing. This committee was responsible for the logistics required in the curriculum changes. They met on several occasions and developed course flow, syllabi and course descriptions.

The changes are already visible online in the list of prerequisite courses.

The recently accepted class of students that will enter in the Fall of 2016 will be the last students to go through the old curriculum. Any current pre-nursing students will now have a lighter prerequisite load.