Over the years, nursing educators have been challenged to evolve to meet rigorous and compelling new graduate demands. Consequently, the need to extend the nursing curriculum beyond the didactic rises continuously. In the process, the training nurses are equipped with psychomotor skills applicable to the clinical care of patients with unique needs and predispositions. The curricula with the capacity to meet such needs call for a paradigm shift from the usual instructor-centered model to a more learning-centered model. Thus, based on this premise, the veteran-centric curriculum continues to be developed with the intention of diversifying the focus from the general BSN nursing program for non-veteran students and concentrating on the unique needs of the veteran students. The creation of these structural and process platforms is aimed at realizing veteran-focused nursing education. Coupled with innovative practices and educational initiatives, it will facilitate veteran positive patient outcomes. The essay considers the Florida International University nursing curricula, and it compares and contrasts the BSN nursing program for veterans with BSN nursing program for non-veteran students.
Current statistics points to an alarming post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, and suicidal risk crisis facing the United States veterans who return from the battlefield (Beckford & Ellis, 2013). Apart from educating the non-veteran students on the particular needs of these heroes, the BSN nursing program for veterans in Florida International University has developed the curricula that train experienced veterans who later graduate to become registered nurses. Veteran nursing students handle the unique needs of the current and former military members better mostly because of their experience and the ability to relate to the patient challenges (Stuart, 2013). In fact, student veterans join the profession with a broad range of experience and skills. Thus, this knowledge and experience necessitate separate curricula, considering the fact that former veteran students have taken medical training, have served in combats as medics, and have even worked in military nursing units (Elliott & Patterson, 2016).
In order to take into account the skills and experience gained during their time with the Army, the BSN nursing program for veterans has modified the entry-level nursing course by dividing it into several modules. The modularized program allow former military individuals pursuing nursing education to test content separately through didactic, clinical examinations and skills, unlike the BSN nursing program for non-veteran students, where the tests are taken jointly (Elliott & Patterson, 2016). If a veteran passes all the didactic modules and skills requirement, they are only required to take the abbreviated clinical rotation. Such curricula contrast the non-veteran student ones in that the student veterans will only be required to take the unsuccessfully completed entry modules tests, while non-veteran students must take the entire course (Beckford & Ellis, 2013). This means that the time taken to complete the BSN nursing program for veterans is shorter. Although the two sets of nursing students will take separate paths in completing the course work, the programs are similar in that the students take identical tests and they will eventually take the same Registered Nurse licensing examination after graduation.
As indicated above, the majority of the nursing schools continue to experience pressure to educate nursing students on how to care for veterans and their families. The introduction of evidence-based content in the non-veteran curricula is among the viable strategies of education (Beckford & Ellis, 2013). However, unlike the BSN nursing program for non-veteran students where the students need to reinforce therapeutic communication skills with multiple simulations of psychosocial aspects of veterans care, the BSN nursing programs for veterans require less of the simulations (Beckford & Ellis, 2013). This happens because they have gone through similar emotional phases; hence, can more easily relate to the patient and provide the necessary care in the process.
In sum, the paper has identified two major similarities between the BSN nursing program for veterans and BSN nursing program for non-veteran students, namely the content, and the tests and final examination. On the other hand, the programs are different based on the time taken to complete the course, lessons attended, and the structure of the programs. In addition, modularizing the curricula exempts the veteran nursing students from some of the elementary course modules that contribute to bridging the existing care gaps for veterans’ families. Lastly, less simulation of the psychosocial aspects involved in providing care for the military families is required with the BSN nursing program for veterans as compared to the BSN nursing program for non-veteran students.
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