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School of Nursing Philosophy

The SON derives its philosophy and purposes from the mission statement of NAU. The SON and its faculty believe that nursing education should enable students to acquire the knowledge and proficiencies necessary to practice culturally competent and congruent nursing care and meet the changing needs of society. The philosophy and conceptual model are based on the learning paradigms of Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). In accordance with these paradigms, the faculty believes that education is predicated on the following constructs derived from Benner’s Novice to Expert and Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing theories:

Experiential: student-centered and lifelong learning; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty believe nursing education includes experiences and activities that promote learning in open learning climates where students may examine and discuss transitions in understanding, mistakes, or misconceptions in actual clinical situations (Benner). Nursing is embraced as a discipline committed to the importance of lifelong learning for the maintenance and advancement of knowledge.

The SON and faculty further believe culturally congruent care reflects an infinite number of factors that affect wellbeing which is important for today’s diverse society. It is through culturally congruent care that nursing finds an infinite number of explored and unexplored dimensions of care as a pursuit for enhanced knowledge which may result in predictable care outcomes (Leininger).

Caring: essential to nursing and nursing education; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty embrace Benner’s tenet that caring practice is the invisible work of nursing, acknowledges a common human condition, and is required to nurture and sustain human life.

The SON and faculty further embrace Leininger’s definition: "Care is the heart of nursing; Care is power; Care is essential to healing (or wellbeing); Care is curing; and Care is (or should be) the central and dominant focus of nursing and transcultural nursing decisions and actions" (Leininger, 1991, 2002, 2006).

Clinical Judgment: qualitative distinction, evolves over time, integrative/dynamic; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001). The SON and faculty believe Benner’s tenet that clinical judgment is based on recognition of dynamic patient/family/community transitions across time in response to conditions and associated treatment. The nurse’s clinical judgment evolves over time as the nurse gains experience and furthers education in the profession.

Holistic Health/Illness/Death; Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty believe nursing education should embrace the care of clients as addressed within all stages of health from wellness to death. Within the art of healing and comforting, utilization of a holistic perspective should support and enhance human dignity. This holistic perspective views cultural insight as a pivotal factor that directs and shapes wellbeing within an individual, the family, and the community as a whole.

The NAU SON uses the tenets of Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2000, 2006) to form the eclectic conceptual framework. Specifically, Benner’s work on Novice to Expert (1984) provides a framework for the SON. The SON programs are built upon various student levels of education and experience and designed to enhance career mobility. Concepts of care and culture based on Leininger are threaded throughout the curricula. The constructs: experiential learning, caring, clinical judgment, and holistic health/illness/death provide horizontal threads that serve as broad categories under which a variety of content can be addressed. They are not considered mutually exclusive. It is recognized that the rapid evolution of nursing science, practice, and education demands ongoing reexamination of categories and concepts.

The SON and faculty believe nursing is a practice profession with a defined body of knowledge and outcomes. Nursing practice is embraced through education as holistic, caring in nature incorporating, and supporting lifelong learning.