Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Developing a New Bachelor of Nursing Course Responsive to Australia's Culturally Diverse Community

Academic journal article Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession

Developing a New Bachelor of Nursing Course Responsive to Australia's Culturally Diverse Community

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article is to discuss issues surrounding the development of a new Bachelor of Nursing course for the University of Notre Dame, Sydney,Australia. In particular, the focus of the discussion is on the factors that influenced the development of learning outcomes that would enable student nurses the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to advance both personally and professionally a cultural awareness of self and others appropriate for the Australian context and delivery of culturally congruent and safe nursing care.


Over the past several decades, I have worked as a lecturer in nursing at several New South Wales universities and colleges. During that time, I have observed a diversity of teaching and learning approaches utilised by staff to develop cultural self-awareness and cultural competence among undergraduate and postgraduate student nurses. I have also observed a growing trend towards implementing learning outcomes that focused only on one or a limited number of the evidenced-based cultural theoretical or conceptual approaches currently available to health professionals.1 This approach to teaching student nurses about the role culture plays in influencing the health and well-being of all individuals, I believe does not encourage students to become critical thinkers, nor does it demonstrate a sustained scholarship culture. Learning outcomes that limit the examination of the evidenced-based research and health care policies available to inform practice is not congruent with the goals of higher education in Australia, nor the role of universities to utilise research to advance knowledge and understanding (MCEETYA, 2007). Therefore, the aim of the new Bachelor of Nursing course was to develop a curriculum that reflected both stakeholders' views and a diverse range of evidencedbased research on culture care and cultural safety relevant to nursing practice for the Australian context.

The Bachelor of Nursing (BN) is a comprehensive three-year course, which prepares student nurses to meet the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council (ANMC) National Competency Standards for the Registered Nurse (2006) that are currently required for registration by the Nurses and Midwives Board in each state and territory of Australia. A transfer of state and territory registration to national registration in Australia is anticipated during 2008 to 2010.The new University of Notre Dame,Australia Bachelor of Nursing course (Sydney Campus) aims to provide the student with essential knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiential learning that will prepare the student for the role of a professional nurse in order to provide safe care across various clinical settings and socio-cultural contexts. Graduates will be able to practise at a beginning level in a variety of health agencies and settings, under the direction of or with access to, experienced registered nurses (RNs), until a level of independent practice is achieved. The BN course also extends attitudes and skills of the professional nurse, through researching contemporary health care/ nursing issues, exploring the impact of health policy and socio-cultural issues on health and the modes used in bringing about change in health care delivery.


It became apparent early in the curriculum development process that in order to meet the diverse cultural health needs of the Australian community, a diverse range of professional stakeholders' views needed to be sought.The curriculum developers needed to identify what culturally relevant content needed to be included in the course units of study and learning outcomes. The developers of the course also needed to know how the Bachelor of Nursing curricula could provide teaching and learning opportunities for the student nurse so that they could further develop their levels of cultural awareness, knowledge, skills, and attitudes that could lead to culturally safe and competent practice (NSWNMB 2005a, 2005b;ANMC 2006). …

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