Introduction

The School of Nursing offers an excellent blend of both theoretical knowledge and clinical experience. Throughout the nursing program, students gain clinical experiences at area hospitals, Community Health and Homecare Agencies, schools, and the University's nationally recognized Health Promotion Center.

Students are admitted directly to the baccalaureate nursing program and begin with a strong foundation in the natural and behavioral sciences in the freshman year. Strong grades in the pre-requisite courses including psychology, chemistry, microbiology and anatomy & physiology are critical to success in the nursing program. Nursing courses begin in the fall of the sophomore year and progress to include an increasing number of hours providing patient care throughout the curriculum. Undergraduate students start caring for patients during the second semester of the sophomore year.

Graduate students are in the field beginning in the second year of full-time study. The amount of supervised practicum time increases for all students as they progress through the program. The School of Nursing graduate program has three tracks: Practitioner, Nurse Anesthesia and Healthcare Management. The course of study leads to a master of science in nursing degree and fulfills academic requirements toward certification as an adult nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, adult psychiatric nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetists or in nursing administration, advanced. The faculty encourages students to use and build upon past education and experiences. The School of Nursing has long been recognized for its commitment to individualizing instruction and educational experiences.

The course of study for B.S.N. and M.S.N. students reflects the school's philosophy, is organized according to a clearly articulated framework, and is designed to help students achieve the terminal objectives.

Philosophy

The philosophy of the School of Nursing flows from the mission statement of Fairfield University, and gives definition to the Jesuit ideals of social responsibility, truth, and justice. The faculty views nursing as the art and science of reflective practice in caring for vulnerable populations. Individuals are biological, psychological, social, and spiritual beings who are unique members of families and of larger social systems. Interaction and communication within these systems influence health and well-being. Health is a dynamic process of physical, mental, spiritual, and environmental harmony that enables people to affirm and pursue their own life goals. Optimum health begins with nurturing and promoting one's own emotional and spiritual growth, which then extends to respect and caring for others. Health and well-being are influenced by many variables including quality of life. When recovery from illness is not possible, death itself is viewed as the final opportunity for growth.

Students are viewed as holistic individuals who are seeking to develop in multifaceted roles and who are accountable for their learning. Each student brings unique qualities that contribute to the strength and diversity of the program. Along with planned educational experiences, faculty offer support, guidance, and mentoring throughout the learning process. Students are encouraged to develop their individual strengths and identify areas of interest as they progress throughout the curriculum. Students emerge as qualified baccalaureate-prepared entry-level practitioners or master's/doctorally prepared advanced-level practitioners, who integrate theory and research into their practices and use a critical approach to problem solving. Because society is rich with diverse religious, ethnic, and cultural groups, nurses are professionals who must be prepared to work with those whose beliefs and values may be different from their own. In order to be sensitive to others, it is first necessary to know and accept one's own values and beliefs. Students and faculty demonstrate mutual respect for the rights of others and appreciation of these differences.

Mission & Purpose

In keeping with the mission of Fairfield University to develop men and women for others, the School of Nursing builds on a tradition of innovation and a commitment to provide the very best nursing education, scholarship and professional service locally, nationally, and internationally. The School of Nursing is committed to leadership in nursing. The discovery, transmission, and use of knowledge are at the core of our work. Knowledge of health and illness in individuals, families, groups and communities, both locally and internationally, provides the context for our charge. The ultimate test of our vision will be the results of contributions of faculty and graduates over time.

Guiding Principles for the Undergraduate and Graduate Programs

Ethics and Social Responsibility

Commitment to social responsibility, truth, and justice is inherent in the Jesuit ideal and underscores the need to provide care to vulnerable populations; that is, those populations that experience actual or potential threats to health or well-being. Provision of care to vulnerable populations is a particular concern to nursing. Nurses have a moral and ethical obligation to provide and advocate for optimal health care for all members of society regardless of differences in culture, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, and age. Nurses consider the interplay of health and social issues as they care for clients in various stages of health and illness. Students confront the range of ethical dilemmas and value conflicts inherent in care delivery, and develop an understanding and acceptance of self and others.

Holism

Human beings are unique individuals who grow in complexity throughout life. Holism is an approach to assessment and management of patient-centered care that considers the biological, psychological, sociocultural, and spiritual needs of patients, and searches for the deeper and more complex roots of ill health beyond the individual. Interactions among people and between people and the environments in which they live are considered in planning and providing quality nursing care. The holistic approach supports and relies upon the therapeutic nurse-patient relationship and a focus on wholeness, harmony and healing.

Reflective Practice

Nurses diagnose human responses to actual and potential health problems, identify individual strengths and nursing care needs, and plan and deliver culturally sensitive care that promotes, maintains or restores health. Nursing practice integrates scientific problem solving with holistic caring. Reflective practice emphasizes a combination of rational and intuitive processes that allow students to discover the links between theory and practice, help them to develop their skills in creating holistic, individualized, and flexible plans of care, and enhance their acceptance of professional responsibility. It incorporates approaches such as reflection-on-action, reflection-in-action, and reflection-before-action. Reflective practice leads to greater awareness of individual beliefs, biases, and existing knowledge base, development of creative and critical thinking processes, changes in perspectives, attitudes, and behaviors, and enhanced personal and professional identity development. The establishment of a pattern of reflective practice encourages lifelong learning and ultimately advances the discipline of nursing through greater knowledge production and opportunities for leadership.

Professionalism

Characteristics of professional nursing practice include critical thinking, clinical reasoning, decision-making, and accountability. Behaviors integral to professional nursing’s role are advo­cacy, politica activism, effective communication, collegiality, commitment to life-long learning, scholarship, and the upholding of standards as defined by the profession. Nurses are integral members of interprofessional teams and collaborate with other health care providers, patients, family and community members; their role involves responsibilities for teaching, making referrals, and strategizing to shape health policy at local, state, national, and international levels. The purpose of this collaborative, interprofessional activity is to improve care and address quality and safety issues through education, consultation, and management. Professional nursing practice combines holistic care with evidence-based practice. Nursing research is viewed as the investigation of issues of concern in nursing practice with the aim of answering complex questions and developing knowledge to improve care and potentiate health. Leadership and management skills are essential to shape the future of health care, and help others attain goals and facilitate change. Participation in professional organizations and groups, role modeling, patient advocacy, political activism, and fostering a learning environment by mentoring others is expected.