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About the School of Nursing

Student Nurse


Welcome to the School of Nursing at Western Carolina University. We have grown significantly over the last several years, and offer many exciting education options at the undergraduate and graduate level.

A career in nursing is challenging and rewarding. Now more than ever, nurses prepared at the baccalaureate and master's level are in great demand by healthcare employers. Our faculty members are invested in nurturing students as they prepare for their roles as clinicians, teachers, researchers, leaders, life-long leaders and responsible members of society. The School of Nursing was established at Western Carolina University in 1969 under Dr. Mary K. Kneedler, a nationally recognized leader in healthcare who helped develop the Head Start program under President Lyndon Johnson. The first class of BSN students graduated in 1973. The School now has well over 2,000 alumni who practice in clinical and leadership roles nationwide.

Students who graduate from our programs perform well on their licensure exams with pass rates well above national averages. They also have the opportunity to engage in clinical experiences at many different types of healthcare institutions in rural and urban western North Carolina.

Mission, Vision, and Philosophy

Educate nurse leaders who are dedicated to caring and participating with individuals, families, and communities to meet health needs.

To be recognized for excellence in the transformation of healthcare through the scholarship of teaching, practice, and research.

The Philosophy of the SON reflects the beliefs and values of the faculty and gives direction to the baccalaureate, masters and doctoral curricula. The baccalaureate graduate is a generalist who designs, provides, manages and coordinates nursing care in a variety of healthcare settings. The masters and doctoral curriculum build on the baccalaureate education and prepares graduates to practice in advanced roles.

Nursing is a discipline of knowledge and professional practice. Nursing occurs in relationship with self and others and requires the intentional presence of the nurse. The focus of nursing is to improve health outcomes with individuals, families and communities through caring.

The professionalization of caring in nursing includes:

Competence – knowledge, wisdom, skills, judgment, experience and motivation.

Compassion – a shared awareness and connectedness with the experiences of others.

Commitment – a deliberate choice to act in accordance with beliefs and obligations.

Conscience – a state of moral awareness.

Confidence – the internal belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way which fosters trusting relationships.

Comportment – demeanor, conduct, personal bearing, behavior. (Roach, 1997)

Excellence in nursing requires a blending of science and art. Nursing science is the body of nursing knowledge derived from the integration of theory, research, and practice. The art of nursing is the creative integration of empirical, personal, ethical, intuitive, esthetic ways of knowing in practice. The art of nursing is that which humanizes the delivery of nursing care.

Learning in nursing occurs through the integration of multiple ways of knowing. Self-awareness, reflection, and ethical and critical reasoning are important aspects of the learning that occurs in practice situations and through interprofessional collaboration. A supportive environment for learning is one which respects and values the contributions of each person and is a collaborative relationship between faculty, and students. The completion of a nursing degree is not an end-point but the beginning of a life-long commitment to learning.

Roach, S. (1997). Caring from the heart: The convergence of caring and spirituality. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.

Last edited 9/24/2012, 11/26/2012, 12/14/2012, and 01/10/2013

Program Outcomes

The undergraduate student is able to:

  1. Apply the nursing process with clinical judgment to provide safe, holistic, and compassionate care to diverse individuals and populations across the lifespan. 
  2. Synthesize knowledge from nursing and other disciplines to inform clinical judgment, provide evidence-based care, and explore innovative solutions to improve healthcare on the individual and systems level.
  3. Improve individual and population health by integrating principles of leadership, advocacy, health equity, and social justice with knowledge of health policy, health care systems, and the social determinants of health.
  4. Collaborate in a culture of safety and quality through an understanding of healthcare systems, care outcomes, evidence-based practice, economics, and regulatory requirements.
  5. Communicate effectively through written, verbal, behavioral, and technological modalities to manage information, collaborate with the healthcare team, gain knowledge, and drive decisions for safe, high-quality, efficient, and evidence-based nursing care.
  6. Cultivate lifelong learning and integrate professional standards rooted in the ANA Code of Ethics to lead with empathy, self-awareness, integrity, and resilience in providing therapeutic care and supporting nursing excellence.

The master’s nursing graduate will:

  1. Demonstrate competence in a defined role or area of advanced nursing practice.
  2. Utilize the process of scientific inquiry to translate evidence into advanced nursing practice.
  3. Demonstrate cultural sensitivity and an understanding of human diversity in delivery of health care across the lifespan.
  4. Build and lead collaborative interprofessional care teams to improve quality outcomes.
  5. Lead in the integration of healthcare services across practice environments.
  6. Promote excellence in practice environments through a commitment to lifelong learning.

Upon completion of the DNP program, graduates will:

  1. Analyze and integrate evidence from nursing science with evidence from other relevant scientific disciplines to form a scientific foundation for advanced practice in nursing.
  2. Apply clinical scholarship, scientific evidence, and analytical methods to improve healthcare outcomes.
  3. Develop and evaluate systems to enhance safety and quality of healthcare.
  4. Advocate and participate in collaborative interdisciplinary efforts to improve health outcomes at the practice/organization, community, state and national levels.
  5. Engage in culturally competent and ethically sound advanced nursing practice.
  6. Demonstrate leadership in the improvement of patient outcomes and transformation of healthcare delivery.
  7. Directly manage complex health problems of clients or develop and implement organizational systems to facilitate access and navigation of the health care system.
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