M.S. Nursing, Leadership (RN to MSN Option) Areas of Study

The WGU MSN (RN to MSN Option) program is based on best practices for effective learning and national standards. It provides the knowledge and skills that enable graduates to expand their knowledge in areas of research, theory, community concepts, healthcare policy and finance, therapeutic interventions, and current trends.

General Education

Foundations of College Mathematics
Foundations of College Mathematics addresses the sequence of learning activities necessary to build competence in foundational concepts of College Mathematics, which include whole numbers, fractions, decimals, ratios, proportions and percents, geometry, statistics, the real number system, equations, inequalities, applications, and graphs of linear equations.

English Composition I
This course introduces learners to the types of writing and thinking that is valued in college and beyond. Students will practice writing in several genres and several media, with emphasis placed on writing and revising academic arguments. The course contains supporting media, articles, and excerpts to support a focus on one of five disciplinary threads (covering the topics of nursing, business, information technology, teaching, and literature, art, and culture) designed to engage students and welcome them into discussion about contemporary issues. The course supports peer review activities, though it may be completed asynchronously as well. Instruction and exercises in grammar, mechanics, research documentation, and style are paired with each module so that writers can practice these skills as necessary. This course includes full access to the MindEdge Writing Pad to support student writing and coaching sessions.

Survey of United States Constitution and Government
In Survey of United States Constitution and Government, you will examine the structure, institutions and principles of the American political system. The foundation of the United States government is the U.S. Constitution, and this course will introduce the concepts of (a) separation of powers, (b) checks and balances, (c) civil liberties and civil rights, and (d) federalism and republicanism.

By completing this course, you will have proven competency in the structures of government, your own role in the policymaking process, and the ways in which the Constitution and government has changed over time.

Elements of Effective Communication
Elements of Effective Communication introduces learners to elements of communication that are valued in college and beyond. Materials are based on five principles: being aware of your communication with yourself and others; using and interpreting verbal messages effectively; using and interpreting nonverbal messages effectively; listening and responding thoughtfully to others, and adapting messages to others appropriately.

Introduction to Humanities
This introductory humanities course allows students to practice essential writing, communication, and critical thinking skills necessary to engage in civic and professional interactions as mature, informed adults. Whether through studying literature, visual and performing arts, or philosophy, all humanities courses stress the need to form reasoned, analytical, and articulate responses to cultural and creative works. Studying a wide variety of creative works allows students to more effectively enter the global community with a broad and enlightened perspective.

Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
This course introduces students to human development across the lifespan. This will include an introductory survey of cognitive, psychological, and physical growth. Students will gain an understanding in regards to the emergence of personality, identity, gender and sexuality, social relationships, emotion, language, and moral development through life. This will include milestones such as education, achievement, work, dying, and death.

Introduction to Psychology
In this course, students will develop an understanding of psychology and how it helps them better understand others and themselves. Students will learn general theories about psychological development, the structure of the brain, and how psychologists study behavior. They will gain an understanding of both normal and disordered psychological behaviors, as well as general applications of the science of psychology in society (such as personality typing and counseling).

Introduction to Sociology
This course teaches students to think like sociologists, in other words, to see and understand the hidden rules, or norms, by which people live, and how they free or restrain behavior. Students will learn about socializing institutions, such as schools and families, as well as workplace organizations and governments. Participants will also learn how people deviate from the rules by challenging norms, and how such behavior may result in social change, either on a large scale or within small groups.

Introduction to Probability and Statistics
In this course, students demonstrate competency in the basic concepts, logic, and issues involved in statistical reasoning. Topics include summarizing and analyzing data, sampling and study design, and probability.

Health Sciences

Anatomy and Physiology I
This course introduces basic concepts of human anatomy and physiology through a survey of the structures and functions of the body’s organ systems. Students will have the opportunity to explore the body through laboratory experience and apply the basic knowledge of the course. For nursing students this is the first of two anatomy and physiology courses within the program of study.

Anatomy and Physiology II
This course introduces advanced concepts of human anatomy and physiology, through the structures and functions of the body’s organ systems. Students will have the opportunity to explore the body through laboratory experience and apply the concepts of the course. For nursing students this is the second of two anatomy and physiology courses within the program of study.

Clinical Microbiology
Clinical Microbiology focuses on microbes--both constructive and destructive--that are among the smallest living entities on earth. Students will examine how they live, reproduce, carry diseases, and develop resistance to antibiotics. This course has a clinical focus.

Chemistry Content

Biochemistry covers the structure and function of the four major polymers produced by living organisms. These include nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. This course focuses on application! Be sure to understand the underlying biochemistry in order to grasp how it is applied. By successfully completing this course, you will gain an introductory understanding of the chemicals and reactions that sustain life. You will also begin to see the importance of this subject matter to health.

Nursing Theory and Practice

Care of the Older Adult
Care of the Older Adult adapts the concepts from prior coursework to the care of older adults. An understanding of the effects that policy and legislation have on how healthcare systems treat aging patients sets a foundation for improving their care. Students will apply health assessment skills and evidence-based standards in such a way to account for the specific needs of older adults. Emphasis is placed on the importance of maintaining the dignity of older adults by focusing on cultural, religious, spiritual, and communication needs and by collaborating on care with older adults, families, and caregivers.

Health Assessment
The Health Assessment course is designed to enhance students’ knowledge and skills in health promotion, the early detection of illness and prevention of disease. To that end the course provides relevant content and skills necessary to perform a comprehensive physical assessment of patients throughout the lifespan. Students are engaged in these processes through interviewing, history taking and demonstration of an advanced-level physical examination. Dominant models, theories and perspectives related to evidence-based wellness practices and health education strategies also are included in this challenging course. Competency is measured through successful completion of one objective assessment and two performance tasks. It is recommended that students plan to complete C349 in four to six weeks.

Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing
Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing will assist students in becoming familiar with foundational theories and models of health promotion applicable to the community health nursing environment. Students will develop an understanding of how policies and resources influence the health of populations. Focus is concentrated on learning the importance of a community assessment to improve or resolve a community health issue. Students will be introduced to the relationships between cultures and communities and the steps necessary to create community collaboration with the goal to improve or resolve community health issues in a variety of settings. Students will gain a greater understanding of health systems in the United States, global health issues, quality-of-life issues, cultural influences, community collaboration, and emergency preparedness.

Nutrition for Contemporary Society
Nutritional ignorance or misunderstandings are at the root of the health problems that most Americans face today. Nurses need to be armed with the most current information available about nutrition science including how to understand nutritional content of food, implications of exercise and activity on food consumption and weight management, and management of community or population specific nutritional challenges. The Nutrition for Contemporary Society course should prepare nurses to provide support, guidance and teaching about incorporation of sound nutritional principles into daily life for health promotion. This course covers the following concepts: nutrition to support wellness; healthy nutritional choices; nutrition and physical activity; nutrition through the lifecycle; safety and security of food; and nutrition and global health environments.

Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing Field Experience
Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing, Field Experience will introduce and familiarize students with clinical aspects of health promotion and disease prevention in the community health nursing environment. Students will practice skills based on clinical priorities, methodology, and resources that positively influence the health of populations by assessing a primary prevention topic in the community. Students will demonstrate critical thinking skills by applying principals of community health nursing in a variety of community settings aligning with the selected primary prevention topic. Students will describe the completed Field Experience in a written assessment that will also outline recommendations to improve the community health concern using the nursing process. Students will develop and recommend health promotion and disease prevention strategies for population groups.

Advanced Professional Roles and Values
The Advanced Professional Roles and Values course bridges the undergraduate nurse to higher level knowledge and accountability by examining roles of advanced professional practice. Current issues, professional and personal values, and ethical issues are examined along with scholarship and advanced practice roles.

Nursing Science

Organizational Systems and Quality Leadership
Nurses serve as clinicians, managers, and mentors to shape the future of healthcare and impact patient care outcomes in positive ways. This course will help students to be more confident and better prepared to assume leadership roles regardless of their position in the healthcare delivery system.This advanced leadership course focuses on the concepts of Patient Safety, Improvement science, balancing cost, quality and access through the triple aim, leadership and patient/family centered care. Students will develop mastery of advanced competencies particularly in patient safety in quality improvement science.

Advanced Information Management and the Application of Technology
In this course you will examine the complementary roles of the master’s level-prepared nursing information technology professionals, including informaticists and quality officers. You will analyze current and emerging technologies, data management, ethical, legal and regulatory, best-practice evidence, and bio-health informatics using decision-making support systems at the point of care.

MSN Professional Nursing Core

Professional Presence and Influence
Who we are and how we behave affects others. Our professional presence in therapeutic settings can support or inhibit well-being not only in patients, but also in the rest of the health care team, in the family and support system of the patients, and in the health care organization as a whole.

This course will help registered nurses manage this impact by recognizing situations and practices that support a positive environment and cultivating actions and responses to achieve and maintain this environment. The growth of selfknowledge will expand nurses’ ability to direct influence in ways that are intended rather than in random or destructive ways.

Translational Research for Practice and Populations
This graduate-level course builds on your baccalaureate-level statistical knowledge to help you develop skills in analyzing, interpreting, and translating research into nursing practice using principles of patient-centered care and applications to individuals and populations.

Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice
In Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice, students will gain application skills by examining syndromes rather than looking at body systems independently. The course includes pathophysiologies, the associated pharmacological treatments, and social and environmental impacts. Pathopharmacological Foundations for Advanced Nursing Practice is an integrated examination of five common and important disease processes:

  • asthma
  • heart failure
  • obesity
  • traumatic brain injury
  • depression

These processes are relevant to advanced nursing practice because of their prevalence and impact on the healthcare system and the health of the nation.

Contemporary Pharmacotherapeutics
This course provides the opportunity to acquire advanced knowledge and skills in the therapeutic use of pharmacologic agents, herbals, and supplements. Students will explore the pharmacologic treatment of major health problems and examine the principles of pharmacogenomics. The effects of culture, ethnicity, age, pregnancy, gender, healthcare setting, and funding of pharmacologic therapy will be emphasized. Legal aspects of prescribing will be fully addressed. Case studies will be utilized to present some of these concepts.

Comprehensive Health Assessment for Patients and Populations
In this course, students will learn about the principles of health assessment from the individual to the global level. Students will learn to perform a comprehensive functional health assessment that includes social structures, family history, and environmental situations, from the individual patient to the population.

This course builds on prior knowledge gained in previous courses and in nursing practice, in areas such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, and epidemiology, and focus on applying this knowledge in various populations with common disorders. This course is roughly divided into three parts:

  • Advanced health assessment focusing on abnormal findings for common disease.
  • Integrating health assessment findings into a population, considering such issue as culture, spirituality, and continuum.
  • Functionality of clients based upon the problems and populations.

Essentials of Advanced Nursing Practice Field Experience

Organizational Leadership and Interprofessional Team Development
This graduate-level course builds on baccalaureate-level leadership knowledge to develop application skills in complex healthcare environments with diverse teams. Graduates will develop knowledge and competencies in the following areas:

  • leadership theory
  • systems and complexity theory
  • advanced communication
  • building consensus

Knowledge, skills, and abilities related to creating cultures of safety and leading quality improvement are key parts of this course and of contemporary leadership. Most importantly, students will develop and establish deep understanding of leadership roles within organizations, a central theme in the course.

Upon successful completion of this course, Students will demonstrate: critical decision making, critical analysis, and visionary thinking to lead and affect positive healthcare environments; the ability to build consensus and communicate a compelling vision that facilitates teamwork.

Policy, Politics, and Global Health Trends
Social, political, and economic factors influence policies that impact health outcomes in acute care settings in communities, nationally and globally. Nurse leaders need to understand the determinants of health as well as how legal and regulatory processes, healthcare finances, research, the role of professional organizations, and special interest groups/lobbyists impact health outcomes.This course provides a framework for understanding the organization of healthcare delivery and financing systems in the U.S. and other nations. It addresses how policies are made and factors that influence policies at local, national, and global levels that impact health/wellness and the nursing profession. The roles of values, ethical theories, stakeholder interests, research, and recent legislation related to health policy and health outcomes will be explored. The nurse leader will gain expertise in effecting change through active participation in influencing or developing policies that impact health.

Nursing Leadership

Principles of Organizational Performance Management
This is the first specialization course in the nursing leadership and management track. Building on core coursework in the master’s program, future nurse leaders examine the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of managers in maximizing productivity and performance in healthcare organizations. They will explore leadership issues, including how to build and motivate a team, organize staff development (including legal and ethical issues), and budget resources and time. This course encourages future nurse leaders to examine administration from a systems perspective, relying on evidence to inform their practice.

Principles of Healthcare Business and Financial Management
Business and financial healthcare practices have a significant impact on organizational outcomes. In this course, future nurse leaders examine scarce resources, financial principles, and tools for financial and business management. They will also use financial budgeting and management practices and analyze the impact of regulations on the current healthcare environment.

Strategic Leadership and Future Delivery Models
This graduate-level course emphasizes strategic leadership in healthcare, focusing on the trends and directions in the industry and the future of healthcare delivery. Future nurse leaders will have the opportunity to explore how the strategic planning processes incorporates healthcare trends and the evolution of healthcare systems, methods and concepts in strategic leadership, and the ever-changing technology in healthcare.

Nursing Leadership and Management Field Experience
Today’s rapidly changing healthcare delivery environment requires nurse executives to effectively lead change to achieve organization goals and improvements. Registered nurses needs to hold an active nursing license and have considerable clinical experience and education to become a nurse leader or manager. The Nursing Leadership and Management Field Experience provides the graduate student with an opportunity to work collaboratively within the organization where he/she is employed to address an identified nursing problem, need, or gap in current practices. Students then works to promote a practice change, quality improvement, or innovation that is based on the existing evidence and best practices.

Nursing Leadership and Management Capstone
The Nursing Leadership and Management capstone course provides the student with an opportunity to engage in a project that is actionable, relevant, highly collaborative, and based on real world experience. The capstone involves development of a scholarly project that addresses a problem, need, or gap in current practices. The capstone project provides an opportunity for the graduate nursing student to demonstrate competency through design, application, and evaluation of a planned practice change, quality improvement, or innovation that is based on the existing evidence and best practices.

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