Foundations of Nursology: Curriculum and Course Guidelines

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Foundations of Nursology: Curriculum and Course Guidelines” is a resource designed by the management team as a tool for nurse educators teaching philosophic, conceptual, theoretical, and application knowledge of the discipline. This resource is designed to support both undergraduate and graduate program learners. It is recognized that graduate program learners may not have been exposed to the explicit knowledge of the discipline during undergraduate studies – a situation we expect to change in the months to come. The focus of content and learning activities should be adjusted to the level of education. For example, the focus of content for undergraduate learners could be understanding of nursology content for the generalist nursologist including acquisition and use of knowledge. The focus of content for graduate program learners could be integration of content for the advanced practice nursologist, including translation and development of new knowledge. Application of content may be at different levels of nursology practice (e.g.., individuals/families, communities, and systems) for both the generalist nursologist and the advanced practice nursologist. In addition, the content can be integrated into the curriculum or taught in a separate nursing theory course.


The Foundation of Nursology is designed to address the Future of Nursing documents and various nursology organizations initiatives as well as accreditation bodies related to nursology programs. Specifically, the resource emphasizes the essence of disciplinary knowledge as a foundation for transforming health care and health care delivery.

Future of Nursing 2020-2030

Nursology Organizations

Accreditation Bodies

NLN Accreditation Criteria

“Theory” per se is not mentioned in the standards or quality indicators. The closest is Standard V: Culture of Learning and Diversity – Curriculum and Evaluation Processes –Quality indicators The curriculum integrates the concepts, including, but not limited to, context and environment of care delivery, knowledge and science applied to implementation and evaluation of evidence-based care, personal and professional development, quality and safety, patient-centered care, and teamwork to enable learners to develop role specific competencies. However we strongly recommend integration of theory into all pre-licensure programs, including ADN programs. See the December 1, 2020 Guest post: “Let’s talk theory”; Perspectives from the Associate Degree Nursing World

AACN Accreditation Criteria

AACN Expected outcomes for Undergraduate Programs in Nursing

 Domain 1: Knowledge for Nursing Practice

Descriptor: Integration, translation, and application of established and evolving disciplinary nursing knowledge and ways of knowing, as well as knowledge from other disciplines, including a foundation in liberal arts. This distinguishes the practice of professional nursing and forms the basis for clinical judgement and innovation in nursing practice. See the May 2020 Draft of the “Essentials Domains, Descriptors, Contextual Statements, and Competencies.”

AACN Expected Outcomes for Graduate Programs in Nursing

The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing Essential I:

Rationale. Master’s-prepared nurses build on the competencies gained in a baccalaureate nursing program by developing a deeper understanding of nursing and the related sciences needed to fully analyze, design, implement, and evaluate nursing care. Master’s-prepared nurses use a variety of theories and frameworks, including nursing and ethical theories in the analysis of clinical problems, illness prevention, and health promotion strategies. See the March 2011 “Essentials for Master’s Education in Nursing”

AACN Expected Outcomes for DNP Programs in Nursing

Essential I: Scientific Underpinnings for Practice The practice doctorate in nursing provides the terminal academic preparation for nursing practice. The scientific underpinnings of this education reflect the complexity of practice 9 at the doctoral level and the rich heritage that is the conceptual foundation of nursing. See the “Essentials of Doctoral Education .”for Advanced Nursing Practice.”

Expected Outcomes for PhD Programs in Nursing

  • Develop the Science: Assume leadership in the conduct of culturally competent scholarship to improve nursing practice (Master in-depth knowledge in a substantive area; Critique and integrate different science perspectives in the conduct of research; Communicate research findings to lay and professional audiences and identify implications for policy, nursing practice, and the profession)
  • Steward the Discipline: Integrate the components of scholarship: research, teaching, mentoring, and service to the profession (Communicate scholarship including peer-refereed publications and presentations for professional interdisciplinary audiences; Understand the evolving roles and responsibilities of a nurse scholar)

See “The Research-Focused Doctoral Program in Nursing: Pathways to Excellence

Created December 28, 2020