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HealthMay 18, 2021

How to refresh your nursing curriculum

By: Pam Embler, MSN, PhD, RN
I love spring. What a joy to open the windows and let fresh air in. It's the season of new things and of refreshing old things.

I look forward to longer days, warmer weather, and my plant catalog full of ideas. It is nice to consider small changes around the house - new paint, window treatments, or area rugs - and also plan for that one big renovation project.

What if we looked at spring as a time to refresh our nursing education courses just as we do with our personal lives? Let’s face it, content gets stale. And if we're honest, if we find it stale our students absolutely do. Refreshing, however, does not mean deconstruct to reconstruct. Just as we consider small changes around our homes and gardens — consider small changes in your courses. Let’s walk through some ways in which you can refresh your nursing curriculum.

Review articles or supplementary material

Take a hard look at the materials you have provided your students in the course. Are articles current? We ask our students to provide support for work or discussion posts and in general, nothing older than five years. Are we holding ourselves to the same standard? Start cleaning house there and refresh your reading materials with the most current peer review scholarly materials.

Replace old PowerPoint presentations

Is your course heavily laden with voice-over PowerPoints? Consider shaking things up and replacing those presentations. In this season of Covid, one positive has presented to faculty — the abundance of webinars. Many are provided through course textbook publishers. These webinars provide the most current and relevant content conversations by experts in their fields. In addition to webinars, course textbook publishers often provide other valuable resources that can easily replace a PowerPoint presentation. Lippincott Nursing Education offers CoursePoint/Course Point+ and CoursePoint for Concepts. Both resources integrate the most current nursing knowledge with innovating and engaging activities to challenge, foster critical thinking, and facilitate self-directed learning.

Think about exchanging textbooks for eBooks

Let’s face it, it’s been a tough year and this new year isn’t moving forward as fast in all things Covid as we would like. Students are making hard choices, dropping out of school for financial reasons shouldn’t be one of them. Consider eBooks for your courses, often available through your institution’s library. Depending on your student population and course, consider not requiring a textbook — for example, the RN-BSN student in a Global Concepts, Health Policy, or Health Informatics course. Deliver the content through relevant peer-reviewed articles, recorded webinars hosted by industry experts, or TedMed Talks.

Give nursing students what they need

What practicing nurse doesn’t need continuing education? What pre-licensure student doesn’t need to learn the value and benefit of lifelong learning? Provide your students with opportunities to earn continuing education units while they learn. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers Public Health Grand Rounds in a multitude of practice and topic areas. The Office of Minority Health offers free educational activities to foster culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS). Consider assigning activities or allow students to self-select the activity. Faculty assessment beyond the students submitting the CE certificates can include requiring students to create presentations for their peers, creating Tool Kits, locating a relevant clinical practice guideline, etc.

Yes, I love spring. It’s a time to refresh myself, my surroundings, and the courses I deliver to the students I serve.

Pam Embler, MSN, PhD, RN
Expert Insights Contributor for Wolters Kluwer, Nursing Education
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