Nursing is one of the fastest-growing segments of the healthcare sector. It is an exciting yet complex field that aims to build proficiency on the ability of learners to be excellent care providers. Skills in social interactions, decision-making, and problem-solving form part of developing a competent nurse. Curriculum development is at the center of developing competency in the nursing profession. Additionally, curriculum development ensures that students get the most out of their learning. The content and clinical experiences in the curriculum build the abilities and skills of individuals. In addition, the dynamic nature of the nursing profession necessitates a continuous evaluation of the curriculum (Sochan, 2008). Any reforms made to these curriculums should make the training relevant and appropriate to develop professionals for today and tomorrow. The development of the curriculum influences the teaching and learning methods, curriculum standards, textbooks to be used, and the assessment system. A good curriculum should meet students’ developmental needs, apply real-life practical situations, and should ensure their participation in learning. This paper reviews some of the issues and trends in nursing curriculum development and provides recommendations from learners and teachers.
Sochan (2008) explores how the development of an international nursing curriculum can be used to build a good study relationship. He outlines that the nursing curriculum can be interpreted as the extension of professional outreach activities. This outreach is usually cross-cultural, political and contains economic collaboration. The study outlines that the cooperative partnership between institutions of higher learning and relevant international development agencies can build a global relationship among professionals and faculty. Collaborative curriculum planning in common fields of nursing such as midwifery is a way of improving the quality of nursing education (Sochan, 2008, p. 198). Establishing this relationship through outreach programs that are cross-cultural adds value to the curriculum and creates great international partnerships.
A curriculum should be developed in consideration of the level of knowledge of participants and the objectives of the course (Li & Ni, 2012). The study debates the elements that are vital when making reforms to a curriculum and the challenges faced in the transition into a new learning program. Another fundamental issue is the development of a curriculum system that can match the actual expectations of the students (Sochan, 2008). In addition, the ability of the curriculum to encourage hands-on learning and the liberalization of learning methods are highlighted as essential. The challenges of curriculum development such as excessive focus on the transmission of information and less attention to the transmission of knowledge are also discussed. Other challenges faced by teachers in the implementation of the curriculum include diversion from designed context to provide rigid, unilateral, and mechanical instructions. These diversions are influenced by attitude, emotions, and values. Some researchers provide suggestions on how further development in curriculum reforms can be attained (Li & Ni, 2012).
Non-western educators in the medical field undermine the pursuit of local curricular needs by their eagerness to conform to western educational approaches (Tsai et al., 2012). Instead, the curriculum should consider local social and cultural expectations as a priority. The study conducts a systematic six-step survey that involves the students, faculty, and local stakeholders such as physicians, nurses, allied health professionals and members of the public. The goal was to determine the competencies of local health professionals and determine learner and faculty needs. From the results, the study emphasizes that the education curriculum should develop students’ competencies and meet societal expectations (Li & Ni, 2012). The curriculum development can involve all stakeholders. The curriculum also reinforces interrelationship between individual behavior and values and encompasses integrity and harmony. Tsai and colleagues (2012) state that a formal curriculum should contain a hidden curriculum of other social virtues and values that make the professional more suited to their duties.
Waters, Rochester, and Mcmillan (2012) review the blueprint for the change of the contemporary nursing curriculum. Their literature points to the importance of the curriculum catering for current and future context of health service delivery. An appropriate curriculum leads to training of nurses that are practice-ready by taking into account the present and future practice. In addition, such a curriculum trains professionals. Despite focusing on discipline, skills, and knowledge, the curriculum should also provide the infrastructure that helps learners grow their social and intellectual abilities (Waters, Rochester, & Mcmillan, 2012). These generic abilities prepare the students for their future roles like registered nurses.
Any faculty that aims to offer higher education services faces external pressure in the implementation of the curriculum (Wart, Baker, & Ni, 2014). They provide important insights into curriculum development due to their increased attention to learning outcomes. The faculty is essential in the analysis of student learning styles and differences that are vital to consider. Expertise on issues of faculty workload, priority areas, and curriculum leadership encourages a curriculum that supports and encourages faculty-driven initiatives (Billings & Halstead, 2012). The faculty hence plays a role in the visualization of a framework that is aligned with the course objectives, learning objectives, and context. Wart, Baker, and Ni (2014) discuss the immense potential that could be derived from collaboration and conversation with the faculty in curriculum development. Additionally, the faculty experiences the contemporary challenges of the existing curriculum first-hand and understands the opportunities that the different faculties face.
As a student, there are factors that are valuable in a curriculum. The curriculum is the foundation of the effort that the student is required to put in to become a professional. The transition from a lower learning level to an institution of higher learning should be enhanced by the existing curriculum. The connection between academics and personal abilities and vocation is very vital for students. The connection encourages a new student to take an interest in the course and succeed in terms of performance (Li & Ni, 2012). The connection is achieved through a curriculum that supports appropriate instructions and assessment. A curriculum should focus on guiding the student on methods that are beneficial to their future career especially in their practice. Assessments constitute the other part of the curriculum that is crucial to student development. It assists the students to evaluate their performance and understanding the knowledge and skills gained. As a result, these assessments can improve the general focus of students as they continue with their nursing education.
Students also deserve a type of learning where they can interact with their instructors. Although the development and transition to a reformed curriculum are challenging and time-consuming, this process is necessary for consistent performance (Tsai et al., 2012). The existence of a contemporary curriculum that is commensurate with the needs of learners and faculty has immense benefits for students. These benefits mainly arise from students having an in-depth understanding of the academic material contained in the curriculum. In addition, such a curriculum applies real-life situations in learning (Tsai et al., 2012). The practicality of learning makes learning exciting and relevant to students. In addition, learning should be focused on expectations in the job market. This goal is attained in the curriculum through facilitating the preparation of students to achieve their endeavors in the job market after completion of their studies (Tsai et al., 2012). The knowledge and skills gained should also improve the transition of students into permanent employment. Attaining proficiency necessary to work in the nursing profession requires academic excellence that is accompanied by the ability to work as team, solve problems, and communicate with people effectively within the place of work. In addition, the curriculum should encourage career focus through a continuation of studies to the next level of schooling.
Most of the teachings focus on collaboration and conversation with interdisciplinary teams and teachers to develop an integration of workplace lessons. In addition, visiting classrooms that are taught by other members of the teaching team is another strategy that will be applied in teaching. The practice will build an appreciation of other disciplines and assist in developing strategies that identify the needs in the workplace. In addition, the teaching will incorporate an in-depth review of textbooks that are outlined in the curriculum. Other areas of review will be the projects that will be done in the course, examinations, and other areas of interest for the course (Iwasiw & Goldenberg, 2015). After such reviews, student project topics can be formulated after a proper organization of the workload and the existing instructions. The teaching will try to relate academic skills gained from theory to real workplace situations. The goal is to make learning relatable to real-life situations that the students will face in their practice (Iwasiw & Goldenberg, 2015). Consequently, students can easily relate what they are taught to the skills required to do a good job in a real situation.
The teaching methods will encourage students to work as teams. The continuous upgrade will ensure that the instruction standards offered are high, and the content standard is of great quality (Billings & Halstead, 2012). In addition, it will elevate the assessment standards and challenge the students to work harder to attain competency. Use of alternative assessment strategies will make the process increasingly fruitful as the students continue to advance their qualifications (Billings & Halstead, 2012). Finally, the advancement of my academic qualification through career development will boost my teaching skills and bring the teacher up to speed with the skills and knowledge in the dynamic nursing profession.
Curriculum development is a continuous process as educators improve the quality of students they produce. Nursing is a dynamic field with changes taking place regularly. Consequently, educators need to update the curriculum to incorporate the new practices. The paper indicates some of the reasons why a curriculum in nursing may frequently change. In addition, the paper looks at how student participation in curriculum development is a contemporary gold standard. In light of the literature review above, many factors guide curriculum development in the nursing profession. The inclusion of the faculty is very crucial in the development of a curriculum. Consequently, the future nursing curriculum may significantly differ from the existing curriculum as institutions adapt to new strategies that are result-oriented.
Billings, D. M., & Halstead, J.A (2012). Teaching in nursing (4th ed.). MO: Elsevier Saunders.
Iwasiw, C.L., & Goldenberg, D. (2015). Curriculum development in nursing education (3rd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
Li, Q., & Ni, Y. (2012). Debates on the Basic Education Curriculum Reform and Teachers’ Challenges in China: The Case of Mathematics. Chinese Education and Society, 45(4), 9-21.
Sochan, A. (2008). Relationship building through the development of international nursing curricula: a literature review. International Nursing Review, 55(2), 192-204.
Tsai, S., Ho, M., Hirsh, D., & Kern, D.E. (2012). Defiance, compliance, or alliance? How we developed a medical professionalism curriculum that deliberately connects to cultural context. Medical Teacher, 34(8), 614-617.
Wart, M., Baker, D., & Ni, A. (2014). Using a Faculty Survey to Kick-Start an Ethics Curriculum Upgrade. Journal Of Business Ethics, 122(4), 571-585.
Waters, C., Rochester, S. & McMillan, M. (2012). Drivers for renewal and reform of contemporary nursing curricula: A blueprint for change. Contemporary Nurse: A Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, 41(2), 206-215.