The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing

Pediatric-Vaccines Presentation PPT 2
September 16, 2022
Assignment 1: Prescribing for Children and Adolescents
September 16, 2022

The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing


The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing

March 21, 2011



Introduction 3

Master’s Education in Nursing and Areas of Practice 5 Context for Nursing Practice 6 Master’s Nursing Education Curriculum 7

The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing I. Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities 9 II. Organizational and Systems Leadership 11 III. Quality Improvement and Safety 13

IV. Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice 15 V. Informatics and Healthcare Technologies 17

VI. Health Policy and Advocacy 20 VII. Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient

and Population Health Outcomes 22 VIII. Clinical Prevention and Population Health for

Improving Health 24 IX. Master’s-Level Nursing Practice 26 Clinical/Practice Learning Expectations for Master’s Programs 29 Summary 31 Glossary 31




References 40 Appendix A: Task Force on the Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing 49 Appendix B: Participants who attended Stakeholder Meetings 50 Appendix C: Schools of Nursing that Participated in the Regional Meetings

or Provided Feedback 52 Appendix D: Professional Organizations that Participated in the Regional Meetings or Provided Feedback 63 Appendix E: Healthcare Systems that Participated in the Regional Meetings 64





The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing March 21, 2011


The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing reflect the profession’s continuing call for imagination, transformative thinking, and evolutionary change in graduate education. The extraordinary explosion of knowledge, expanding technologies, increasing diversity, and global health challenges produce a dynamic environment for nursing and amplify nursing’s critical contributions to health care. Master’s education prepares nurses for flexible leadership and critical action within complex, changing systems, including health, educational, and organizational systems. Master’s education equips nurses with valuable knowledge and skills to lead change, promote health, and elevate care in various roles and settings. Synergy with these Essentials, current and future healthcare reform legislation, and the action-oriented recommendations of the Initiative on the Future of Nursing (IOM, 2010) highlights the value and transforming potential of the nursing profession.

These Essentials are core for all master’s programs in nursing and provide the necessary curricular elements and framework, regardless of focus, major, or intended practice setting. These Essentials delineate the outcomes expected of all graduates of master’s nursing programs. These Essentials are not prescriptive directives on the design of programs. Consistent with the Baccalaureate and Doctorate of Nursing Practice Essentials, this document does not address preparation for specific roles, which may change and emerge over time. These Essentials also provide guidance for master’s programs during a time when preparation for specialty advanced nursing practice is transitioning to the doctoral level.

Master’s education remains a critical component of the nursing education trajectory to prepare nurses who can address the gaps resulting from growing healthcare needs. Nurses who obtain the competencies outlined in these Essentials have significant value for current and emerging roles in healthcare delivery and design through advanced nursing knowledge and higher level leadership skills for improving health outcomes. For some nurses, master’s education equips them with a fulfilling lifetime expression of their mastery area. For others, this core is a graduate foundation for doctoral education. Each preparation is valued.


The dynamic nature of the healthcare delivery system underscores the need for the nursing profession to look to the future and anticipate the healthcare needs for which nurses must be prepared to address. The complexities of health and nursing care today make expanded nursing knowledge a necessity in contemporary care settings. The transformation of health care and nursing practice requires a new conceptualization of master’s education. Master’s education must prepare the graduate to:

• Lead change to improve quality outcomes,




• Advance a culture of excellence through lifelong learning,

• Build and lead collaborative interprofessional care teams,

• Navigate and integrate care services across the healthcare system,

• Design innovative nursing practices, and

• Translate evidence into practice.

Graduates of master’s degree programs in nursing are prepared with broad knowledge and practice expertise that builds and expands on baccalaureate or entry-level nursing practice. This preparation provides graduates with a fuller understanding of the discipline of nursing in order to engage in higher level practice and leadership in a variety of settings and commit to lifelong learning. For those nurses seeking a terminal degree, the highest level of preparation within the discipline, the new conceptualization for master’s education will allow for seamless movement into a research or practice-focused doctoral program (AACN, 2006, 2010).

The nine Essentials addressed in this document delineate the knowledge and skills that all nurses prepared in master’s nursing programs acquire. These Essentials guide the preparation of graduates for diverse areas of practice in any healthcare setting.

• Essential I: Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse integrates scientific findings

from nursing, biopsychosocial fields, genetics, public health, quality improvement, and organizational sciences for the continual improvement of nursing care across diverse settings.

• Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership o Recognizes that organizational and systems leadership are critical to the

promotion of high quality and safe patient care. Leadership skills are needed that emphasize ethical and critical decision making, effective working relationships, and a systems-perspective.

• Essential III: Quality Improvement and Safety o Recognizes that a master’s-prepared nurse must be articulate in the

methods, tools, performance measures, and standards related to quality, as well as prepared to apply quality principles within an organization.

• Essential IV: Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice

o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse applies research outcomes within the practice setting, resolves practice problems, works as a change agent, and disseminates results.

• Essential V: Informatics and Healthcare Technologies




o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse uses patient-care technologies to deliver and enhance care and uses communication technologies to integrate and coordinate care.

• Essential VI: Health Policy and Advocacy o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse is able to intervene at the

system level through the policy development process and to employ advocacy strategies to influence health and health care.

• Essential VII: Interprofessional Collaboration for Improving Patient and Population Health Outcomes

o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse, as a member and leader of interprofessional teams, communicates, collaborates, and consults with other health professionals to manage and coordinate care.

• Essential VIII: Clinical Prevention and Population Health for Improving Health

o Recognizes that the master’s-prepared nurse applies and integrates broad, organizational, client-centered, and culturally appropriate concepts in the planning, delivery, management, and evaluation of evidence-based clinical prevention and population care and services to individuals, families, and aggregates/identified populations.

• Essential IX: Master’s-Level Nursing Practice o Recognizes that nursing practice, at the master’s level, is broadly defined

as any form of nursing intervention that influences healthcare outcomes for individuals, populations, or systems. Master’s-level nursing graduates must have an advanced level of understanding of nursing and relevant sciences as well as the ability to integrate this knowledge into practice. . Nursing practice interventions include both direct and indirect care components.


Master’s Education in Nursing and Areas of Practice Graduates with a master’s degree in nursing are prepared for a variety of roles and areas of practice. Graduates may pursue new and innovative roles that result from health reform and changes in an evolving and global healthcare system. Some graduates will pursue direct care practice roles in a variety of settings (e.g., the Clinical Nurse Leader, nurse educator). Others may choose indirect care roles or areas of practice that focus on aggregate, systems, or have an organizational focus, (e.g. nursing or health program management, informatics, public health, or clinical research coordinator). In addition to developing competence in the nine Essential core areas delineated in this document, each graduate will have additional coursework in an area of practice or functional role. This coursework may include more in-depth preparation and competence in one or two of the Essentials or in an additional/ supplementary area of practice. For example, more concentrated coursework or further development of the knowledge and skills embedded in Essential IV (Translational Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice) will prepare the nurse to manage research projects for nurse scientists and other




healthcare researchers working in multi-professional research teams. More in-depth preparation in Essential II (Organizational and System Leadership) will provide knowledge useful for nursing management roles. In some instances, graduates of master’s in nursing programs will seek to fill roles as educators. As outlined in Essential IX, all master’s-prepared nurses will develop competence in applying teaching/learning principles in work with patients and/or students across the continuum of care in a variety of settings. However, as recommended in the Carnegie Foundation report (2009), Educating Nurses: A Call for Radical Transformation, those individuals, as do all master’s graduates, who choose a nurse educator role require preparation across all nine Essential areas, including graduate-level clinical practice content and experiences. In addition, a program preparing individuals for a nurse educator role should include preparation in curriculum design and development, teaching methodologies, educational needs assessment, and learner-centered theories and methods. Master’s prepared nurses may teach patients and their families and/or student nurses, staff nurses, and variety of direct-care providers. The master’s prepared nurse educator differs from the BSN nurse in depth of his/her understanding of the nursing discipline, nursing practice, and the added pedagogical skills. To teach students, patients, and caregivers regarding health promotion, disease prevention, or disease management, the master’s-prepared nurse educator builds on baccalaureate knowledge with graduate- level content in the areas of health assessment, physiology/pathophysiology, and pharmacology to strengthen his/her scientific background and facilitate his/her understanding of nursing and health-related information. Those master’s students who aspire to faculty roles in baccalaureate and higher degree programs will be advised that additional education at the doctoral level is needed (AACN, 2008).


Context for Nursing Practice

Health care in the United States and globally is changing dramatically. Interest in evolving health care has prompted greater focus on health promotion and illness prevention, along with cost-effective approaches to high acuity, chronic disease management, care coordination, and long-term care. Public concerns about cost of health care, fiscal sustainability, healthcare quality, and development of sustainable solutions to healthcare problems are driving reform efforts. Attention to affordability and accessibility of health care, maintaining healthy environments, and promoting personal and community responsibility for health is growing among the public and policy makers.

In addition to broad public mandates for a reformed and responsive healthcare system, a number of groups are calling for changes in the ways all health professionals are educated to meet current and projected needs for contemporary care delivery. The Institute of




Medicine (IOM), an interprofessional healthcare panel, described a set of core competencies that all health professionals regardless of discipline will demonstrate: 1) the provision of patient-centered care, 2) working in interprofessional teams, 3) employing evidence-based practice, 4) applying quality improvement approaches, and 5) utilizing informatics (IOM, 2003).

Given the ongoing public trust in nursing (Gallup, 2010), and the desire for fundamental reorganization of relationships among individuals, the public, healthcare organizations and healthcare professionals, graduate education for nurses is needed that is wide in scope and breadth, emphasizes all systems-level care and includes mastery of practice knowledge and skills. Such preparation reflects mastery of higher level thinking and conceptualization skills than at the baccalaureate level, as well as an understanding of the interrelationships among practice, ethical, and legal issues; financial concerns and comparative effectiveness; and interprofessional teamwork.


Master’s Nursing Education Curriculum

The master’s nursing curriculum is conceptualized in Figure 1 and includes three components:

1. Graduate Nursing Core: foundational curriculum content deemed essential for all students who pursue a master’s degree in nursing regardless of the functional focus.

2. Direct Care Core: essential content to provide direct patient services at an advanced level.

3. Functional Area Content: those clinical and didactic learning experiences identified and defined by the professional nursing organizations and certification bodies for specific nursing roles or functions.


This document delineates the graduate nursing core competencies for all master’s graduates. These core outcomes reflect the many changes in the healthcare system occurring over the past decade. In addition, these expected outcomes for all master’s degree graduates reflect the increasing responsibility of nursing in addressing many of the gaps in health care as well as growing patient and population needs.

Master’s nursing education, as is all nursing education, is evolving to meet these needs and to prepare nurses to assume increasing accountabilities, responsibilities, and leadership positions. As master’s nursing education is re-envisioned and preparation of individuals for advanced specialty nursing practice transitions to the practice doctorate these Essentials delineate the foundational, core expectations for these master’s program graduates until the transition is completed.





Figure 1: Model of Master’s Nursing Curriculum











* All master’s degree programs that prepare graduates for roles that have a component of direct care practice are required to have graduate level content/coursework in the following three areas: physiology/pathophysiology, health assessment, and pharmacology. However, graduates being prepared for any one of the four APRN roles (CRNA, CNM, CNS, or CNP), must complete three separate comprehensive, graduate level courses that meet the criteria delineated in the 2008 Consensus Model for APRN Licensure, Accreditation, Certification and Education. ( In addition, the expected outcomes for each of these three APRN core courses are delineated in The Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (pg. 23-24) ( + The nursing educator is a direct care role and therefore requires graduate-level content in the three Direct Care Core courses. All graduates of a master’s nursing program must have supervised practice experiences that are sufficient to demonstrate mastery of the Essentials. The term “supervised” is used broadly and can include precepted experiences with faculty site visits. These learning experiences may be accomplished through diverse teaching methods, including face-to-face or simulated methods.

In addition, development of clinical proficiency is facilitated through the use of focused and sustained clinical experiences designed to strengthen patient care delivery skills, as




well as system assessment and intervention skills, which will lead to an enhanced understanding of organizational dynamics. These immersion experiences afford the student an opportunity to focus on a population of interest or may focus on a specific role. Most often, the immersion experience occurs toward the end of the program as a culminating synthesis experience.


The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing

Essential I: Background for Practice from Sciences and Humanities


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. These nurses are well prepared to provide care to diverse populations and cohorts of patients in clinical and community-based systems. The master’s-prepared nurse integrates findings from the sciences and the humanities, biopsychosocial fields, genetics, public health, quality improvement, health economics, translational science, and organizational sciences for the continual improvement of nursing care at the unit, clinic, home, or program level. Master’s-prepared nursing care reflects a more sophisticated understanding of assessment, problem identification, design of interventions, and evaluation of aggregate outcomes than baccalaureate-prepared nursing care.

Students being prepared for direct care roles will have graduate-level content that builds upon an undergraduate foundation in health assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. Having master’s-prepared graduates with a strong background in these three areas is seen as imperative from the practice perspective. It is recommended that the master’s curriculum preparing individuals for direct care roles include three separate graduate-level courses in these three content areas. In addition, the inclusion of these three separate courses facilitates the transition of these master’s program graduates into the DNP advanced-practice registered-nurse programs.

Master’s-prepared nurses understand the intersection between systems science and organizational science in order to serve as integrators within and across systems of care. Care coordination is based on systems science (Nelson et al., 2008). Care management incorporates an understanding of the clinical and community context, and the research relevant to the needs of the population. Nurses at this level use advanced clinical reasoning for ambiguous and uncertain clinical presentations, and incorporate concerns of family, significant others, and communities into the design and delivery of 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. Knowledge from information sciences, health communication, and health literacy are used to provide care to multiple populations. These nurses are able to




address complex cultural issues and design care that responds to the needs of multiple populations, who may have potentially conflicting cultural needs and preferences. As healthcare technology becomes more sophisticated and its use more widespread, master’s-prepared nurse are able to evaluate when its use is appropriate for diagnostic, educational, and therapeutic interventions. Master’s-prepared nurses use improvement science and quality processes to evaluate outcomes of the aggregate of patients, community members, or communities under their care, monitor trends in clinical data, and understand the implications of trends for changing nursing care.

The master’s-degree program prepares the graduate to:

1. Integrate nursing and related sciences into the delivery of advanced nursing care to diverse populations.

2. Incorporate current and emerging genetic/genomic evidence in providing advanced nursing care to individuals, families, and communities while accounting for patient values and clinical judgment. 3. Design nursing care for a clinical or community-focused population based on biopsychosocial, public health, nursing, and organizational sciences. 4. Apply ethical analysis and clinical reasoning to assess, intervene, and evaluate advanced nursing care delivery.

5. Synthesize evidence for practice to determine appropriate application of interventions across diverse populations.

6. Use quality processes and improvement science to evaluate care and ensure patient safety for individuals and communities.

7. Integrate organizational science and informatics to make changes in the care environment to improve health outcomes. 8. Analyze nursing history to expand thinking and provide a sense of professional heritage and identity.

Sample Content

• Healthcare economics and finance models • Advanced nursing science, including the major streams of nursing scientific

development • Scientific bases of illness prevention, health promotion, and wellness • Genetics, genomics, and pharmacogenomics • Public health science, such as basic epidemiology, surveillance, environmental

science, and population health analysis and program planning • Organizational sciences




• Systems science and integration, including microsystems, mesosystems, and macro- level systems

• Chaos theory and complexity science • Leadership science • Theories of bioethics • Information science • Quality processes and improvement science • Technology assessment • Nursing Theories Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership


Organizational and systems leadership are critical to the promotion of high quality and safe patient care. Leadership skills are needed that emphasize ethical and critical decision making. The master’s-prepared nurse’s knowledge and skills in these areas are consistent with nursing and healthcare goals to eliminate health disparities and to promote excellence in practice. Master’s-level practice includes not only direct care but also a focus on the systems that provide care and serve the needs of a panel of patients, a defined population, or community.

To be effective, graduates must be able to demonstrate leadership by initiating and maintaining effective working relationships using mutually respectful communication and collaboration within interprofessional teams, demonstrating skills in care coordination, delegation, and initiating conflict resolution strategies. The master’s- prepared nurse provides and coordinates comprehensive care for patients–individuals, families, groups, and communities–in multiple and varied settings. Using information from numerous sources, these nurses navigate the patient through the healthcare system and assume accountability for quality outcomes. Skills essential to leadership include communication, collaboration, negotiation, delegation, and coordination.

Master’s-prepared nurses are members and leaders of healthcare teams that deliver a variety of services. These graduates bring a unique blend of knowledge, judgment, skills, and caring to the team. As a leader and partner with other health professionals, these nurses seek collaboration and consultation with other providers as necessary in the design, coordination, and evaluation of patient care outcomes.

In an environment with ongoing changes in the organization and financing of health care, it is imperative that all master’s-prepared nurses have a keen understanding of healthcare policy, organization, and financing. The purpose of this content is to prepare a graduate to provide quality cost-effective care; to participate in the implementation of care; and to




assume a leadership role in the management of human, fiscal, and physical healthcare resources. Program graduates understand the economies of care, business principles, and how to work within and affect change in systems.

The master’s-prepared nurse must be able to analyze the impact of systems on patient outcomes, including analyzing error rates. These nurses will be prepared with knowledge and expertise in assessing organizations, identifying systems’ issues, and facilitating organization-wide changes in practice delivery. Master’s-prepared nurses must be able to use effective interdisciplinary communication skills to work across departments identifying opportunities and designing and testing systems and programs to improve care. In addition, nurse practice at this level requires an understanding of complexity theory and systems thinking, as well as the business and financial acumen needed for the analysis of practice quality and costs.

The master’s-degree program prepares the graduate to:

1. Apply leadership skills and decision making in the provision of culturally responsive, high-quality nursing care, healthcare team coordination, and the oversight and accountability for care delivery and outcomes.

2. Assume a leadership role in effectively implementing patient safety and quality improvement initiatives within the context of the interprofessional team using effective communication (scholarly writing, speaking, and group interaction) skills.

3. Develop an understanding of how healthcare delivery systems are organized and financed (and how this affects patient care) and identify the economic, legal, and political factors that influence health care.

4. Demonstrate the ability to use complexity science and systems theory in the design, delivery, and evaluation of health care.

5. Apply business and economic principles and practices, including budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, and marketing, to develop a business plan.

6. Design and implement systems change strategies that improve the care environment.

7. Participate in the design and implementation of new models of care delivery and coordination.







Sample Content

• Leadership, including theory, leadership styles, contemporary approaches, and strategies (organizing, managing, delegating, supervising, collaborating, coordinating) • Data-driven decision-making based on an ethical framework to promote culturally responsive, quality patient care in a variety of settings, including creative and imaginative strategies in problem solving • Communication–both interpersonal and organizational–including elements and channels, models, and barriers • Conflict, including conflict resolution, mediation, negotiation, and managing conflict • Change theory and social change theories • Systems theory and complexity science • Healthcare systems and organizational relationships (e.g., finance, organizational structure, and delivery of care, including mission/vision/philosophy and values) • Healthcare finance, including budgeting, cost/benefit analysis, variance analysis, and marketing • Operations research (e.g., queuing theory, supply chain management, and systems designs in health care) • Teams and teamwork, including team leadership, building effective teams, and nurturing teams Essential III: Quality Improvement and Safety


Continuous quality improvement involves every level of the healthcare organization. A master’s-prepared nurse must be articulate in the methods, tools, performance measures, culture of safety principles, and standards related to quality, as well as prepared to apply quality principles within an organization to be an effective leader and change agent.

The Institute of Medicine report (1998) To Err is Human defined patient safety as “freedom from accidental injury” and stated that patients should not be at greater risk for accidental injury in a hospital or healthcare setting than they are in their own home. Improvement in patient safety along with reducing and ultimately eliminating harm to patients is fundamental to quality care. Skills are needed that assist in identifying actual or potential failures in processes and systems that lead to breakdowns and errors and then redesigning processes to make patients safe.

Knowledge and skills in human factors and basic safety design principles that affect unsafe practices are essential. Graduates of master’s-level programs must be able to analyze systems and work to create a just culture of safety in which personnel feel comfortable disclosing errors—including their own—while maintaining professional




accountability. Learning how to evaluate, calculate, and improve the overall reliability of processes are core skills needed by master’s-prepared nurses.

Knowledge of both the potential and the actual impact of national patient safety resources, initiatives, and regulations and the use of national benchmarks are required. Changes in healthcare reimbursement with the introduction of Medicare’s list of “never events” and the regulatory push for more transparency on quality outcomes require graduates to be able to determine if the outcomes of standards of practice, performance, and competence have been met and maintained.

The master’s-prepared nurse provides leadership across the care continuum in diverse settings using knowledge regarding high reliability organizations. These organizations achieve consistently safe and effective performance records despite unpredictable operating environments or intrinsically hazardous endeavors (Weick, 2001). The master’s-prepared nurse will be able to monitor, analyze, and prioritize outcomes that need to be improved. Using quality improvement and high reliability organizational principles, these nurses will be able to quantify the impact of plans of action.

The master’s-degree program prepares the graduate to:

1. Analyze information about quality initiatives recognizing the contributions of individuals and inter-professional healthcare teams to improve health outcomes across the continuum of care.

2. Implement evidence-based plans based on trend analysis and quantify the impact on quality and safety.

3. Analyze information and design systems to sustain improvements and promote transparency using high reliability and just culture principles.

4. Compare and contrast several appropriate quality improvement models.

5. Promote a professional environment that includes accountability and high-level communication skills when involved in peer review, advocacy for patients and families, reporting of errors, and professional writing.

6. Contribute to the integration of healthcare services within systems to affect safety and quality of care to improve patient outcomes and reduce fragmentation of care.

7. Direct quality improvement methods to promote culturally responsive, safe, timely, effective, efficient, equitable, and patient-centered care.

8. Lead quality improvement initiatives that integrate socio-cultural factors affecting the delivery of nursing and healthcare services.




Sample Content

• Quality improvement models differentiating structure, process, and outcome indicators • Principles of a just culture and relationship to analyzing errors • Quality improvement methods and tools: Brainstorming, Fishbone cause and effect diagram, flow chart, Plan, Do Study, Act (PDSA), Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA),Find, Organize, Clarify, Understand, Select-Plan, Do, Check, Act (FOCUS-PDCA), Six Sigma, Lean • High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) / High-reliability techniques • National patient safety goals and other relevant regulatory standards (e.g., CMS core measures, pay for performance indicators, and never events) • Nurse-sensitive indicators • Data management (e.g., collection tools, display techniques, data analysis, trend analysis, control charts) •Analysis of errors (e.g., Root Cause Analysis [RCA], Failure Mode Effects Analysis [FMEA], serious safety events) • Communication (e.g., hands-off communication, chain-of-command, error disclosure) • Participate in executive patient safety rounds • Simulation training in a variety of settings (e.g., disasters, codes, and other high-risk clinical areas) • RN fit for duty/impact of fatigue and distractions in care environment on patient safety Essential IV: Translating and Integrating Scholarship into Practice


Professional nursing practice at all levels is grounded in the ethical translation of current evidence into practice. Fundamentally, nurses need a questioning/inquiring attitude toward their practice and the care environment.

The master’s-prepared nurse examines policies and seeks evidence for every aspect of practice, thereby translating current evidence and identifying gaps where evidence is lacking. These nurses apply research outcomes within the practice setting, resolve practice problems (individually or as a member of the healthcare team), and disseminate results both within the setting and in wider venues in order to advance clinical practice. Changing practice locally, as well as more broadly, demands that the master’s-prepared nurse is skilled at challenging current practices, procedures, and policies. The emerging sciences referred to as implementation or improvement sciences are providing evidence about the processes that are effective when making needed changes where the change processes and context are themselves evidence based (Damschroder et al., 2009; Sobo, Bowman, & Gifford, 2008; van Achterberg, Schoonhoven, & Grol, 2008). Master’s-




prepared nurses, therefore, must be able to implement change deemed appropriate given context and outcome analysis, and to assist others in efforts to improve outcomes.

Master’s-prepared nurses lead continuous improvement processes based on translational research skills. The cyclical processes in which these nurses are engaged includes identifying questions needing answers, searching or creating the evidence for potential solutions/innovations, evaluating the outcomes, and identifying additional questions.

Master’s-prepared nurses, when appropriate, lead the healthcare team in the implementation of evidence-based practice. These nurses support staff in lifelong learning to improve care decisions, serving as a role model and mentor for evidence- based decision making. Program graduates must possess the skills necessary to bring evidence-based practice to both individual patients for whom they directly care and to those patients for whom they are indirectly responsible. Those skills include knowledge acquisition and dissemination, working in groups, and change management.

The master’s-degree program prepares the graduate to:

1. Integrate theory, evidence, clinical judgment, research, and interprofessional perspectives using translational processes to improve practice and associated health outcomes for patient aggregates.

2. Advocate for the ethical conduct of research and translational scholarship (with particular attention to the protection of the patient as a research participant).

3. Articulate to a variety of audiences the evidence base for practice decisions, including the credibility of sources of information and the relevance to the practice problem confronted.

4. Participate, leading when appropriate, in collaborative teams to improve care outcomes and support policy changes through knowledge generation, knowledge dissemination, and planning and evaluating knowledge implementation.

5. Apply practice guidelines to improve practice and the care environment.

6. Perform rigorous critique of evidence derived from databases to generate meaningful evidence for nursing practice.


Sample Content:

• Research process • Implementation/Improvement science • Evidence-based practice:




� Clinical decision making � Critical thinking � Problem identification � Outcome measurement

• Translational science: � Data collection in nursing practice � Design of databases that generate meaningful evidence for nursing practice � Data analysis in practice � Evidence-based interventions � Prediction and analysis of outcomes � Patterns of behavior and outcomes � Gaps in evidence for practice � Importance of cultural relevance

• Scholarship: � Application of research to the clinical setting � Resolution of clinical problems � Appreciative inquiry � Dissemination of results

• Advocacy in research • Research ethics • Knowledge acquisition • Group process • Management of change • Evidence-based policy development in practice • Quality improvement models/methodologies • Safety issues in practice • Innovation processes Essential V: Informatics and Healthcare Technologies


Informatics and healthcare technologies encompass five broad areas:

• Use of patient care and other technologies to deliver and enhance care;

• Communication technologies to integrate and coordinate care;

• Data management to analyze and improve outcomes of care;

• Health information management for evidence-based care and health education; and




• Facilitation and use of electronic health records to improve patient care.

Knowledge and skills in each of these four broad areas is essential for all master’s- prepared nurses. The extent and focus of each will vary depending upon the nurse’s role, setting, and practice focus.

Knowledge and skills in information and healthcare technology are critical to the delivery of quality patient care in a variety of settings (IOM, 2003a). The use of technologies to deliver, enhance, and document care is changing rapidly. In addition, information technology systems, including decision-support systems, are essential to gathering evidence to impact practice. Improvement in cost effectiveness and safety depend on evidence-based practice, outcomes research, interprofessional care coordination, and electronic health records, all of which involve information management and technology (McNeil et al., 2006). As nursing and healthcare practices evolve to better meet patient needs, the application of these technologies will change as well. As the use of technology expands, the master’s-prepared nurse must have the knowledge and skills to use current technologies to deliver and coordinate care across multiple settings, analyze point of care outcomes, and communicate with individuals and groups, including the media, policymakers, other healthcare professionals, and the public. Integral to these skills is an attitude of openness to innovation and continual learning, as information systems and care technologies are constantly changing, including their use at the point of care.

Graduates of master’s-level nursing programs will have competence to determine the appropriate use of technologies and integrate current and emerging technologies into one’s practice and the practice of others to enhance care outcomes. In addition, the master’s-prepared nurse will be able to educate other health professionals, staff, patients, and caregivers using current technologies and about the principles related to the safe and effective use of care and information technologies.

Graduates ethically manage data, information, knowledge, and technology to communicate effectively with healthcare team, patients, and caregivers to integrate safe and effective care within and across settings. Master’s-prepared nurses use research and clinical evidence to inform practice decisions.

Master’s-degree graduates are prepared to gather, document, and analyze outcome data that serve as a foundation for decision making and the implementation of interventions or strategies to improve care outcomes. The master’s-prepared nurse uses statistical and epidemiological principles to synthesize these data, information, and knowledge to evaluate and achieve optimal health outcomes.

The usefulness of electronic health records and other health information management systems to evaluate care outcomes is improved by standardized terminologies. Integration




of standardized terminologies in information systems supports day-to-day nursing practice and also the capacity to enhance interprofessional communication and generate standardized data to continuously evaluate and improve practice (American Nurses Association, 2008). Master’s-prepared nurses use information and communication technologies to provide guidance and oversight for the development and implementation of health education programs, evidence-based policies, and point-of-care practices by members of the interdisciplinary care team.

Health information is growing exponentially. Health literacy is a powerful tool in health promotion, disease prevention, management of chronic illnesses, and quality of life–all of which are hallmarks of excellence in nursing practice. Master’s-prepared nurses serve as information managers, patient advocates, and educators by assisting others(including patients, students, caregivers and healthcare professionals) in accessing, understanding, evaluating, and applying health-related information. The master’s-prepared nurse designs and implements education programs for cohorts of patients or other healthcare providers using information and communication technologies.

The master’s-degree program prepares the graduate to:

1. Analyze current and emerging technologies to support safe practice environments, and to optimize patient safety, cost-effectiveness, and health outcomes.

2. Evaluate outcome data using current communication technologies, information systems, and statistical principles to develop strategies to reduce risks and improve health outcomes.

3. Promote policies that incorporate ethical principles and standards for the use of health and information technologies.

4. Provide oversight and guidance in the integration of technologies to document patient care and improve patient outcomes.

5. Use information and communication technologies, resources, and principles of learning to teach patients and others.

6. Use current and emerging technologies in the care environment to support lifelong learning for self and others.


Sample Content

• Use of technology, information management systems, and standardized terminology




• Use of standardized terminologies to document and analyze nursing care outcomes

• Bio-health informatics • Regulatory requirements for electronic data monitoring systems • Ethical and legal issues related to the use of information technology, including

copyright, privacy, and confidentiality issues • Retrieval information systems, including access, evaluation of data, and

application of relevant data to patient care • Statistical principles and analyses of outcome data • Online review and resources for evidence-based practice • Use and implementation of technology for virtual care delivery and monitoring • Electronic health record, including policies related to the implementation of and

use to impact care outcomes • Complementary roles of the master’s-prepared nursing and information

technology professionals, including nurse informaticist and quality officer • Use of technology to analyze data sets and their use to evaluate patient care

outcomes • Effective use of educational/instructional technology • Point-of-care information systems and decision support systems

Essential VI: Health Policy and Advocacy


The healthcare environment is ever-evolving and influenced by technological, economic, political, and sociocultural factors locally and globally. Graduates of master’s degree nursing programs have requisite knowledge and skills to promote health, help shape the health delivery system, and advance values like social justice through policy processes and advocacy. Nursing’s call to political activism and policy advocacy emerges from many different viewpoints. As more evidence links the broad psychosocial, economic, and cultural factors to health status, nurses are compelled to incorporate these factors into their approach to care. Most often, policy processes and system-level strategies yield the strongest influence on these broad determinants of health. Being accountable for improving the quality of healthcare delivery, nurses must understand the legal and political determinants of the system and have the requisite skills to partner for an improved system. Nurses’ involvement in policy debates brings our professional values to bear on the process (Warner, 2003). Master’s-prepared nurses will use their political efficacy and competence to improve the health outcomes of populations and improve the quality of the healthcare delivery system.