The Role of CNEs in Curriculum Evaluation & Revision

Instructor: Leasha Roy

Leasha is licensed as a registered nurse and clinical nurse specialist. She has over 17 years of nursing experience in a variety of settings and roles including long-term care, acute care, critical care, education, and leadership.

Certified nurse educators (CNE) are an essential part of building a strong and productive nursing workforce. This lesson will discuss the role of the CNE in evaluating and revising nursing curricula.

What is a CNE

A certified nurse educator or CNE is a masters- or doctorate-prepared registered nurse who specializes in academic nursing education. These nurses have taken a step beyond school and licensure to garner knowledge and experience in education as well as to pass a rigorous examination that tests their expertise in this specialty.

CNEs are instrumental in preparing nursing students to pass the licensure exam and function at the entry level of nursing. CNEs also function in programs aimed at preparing nurses for higher degrees (such as an associates or diploma to bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees). Some of their responsibilities in an academic program may include:

  • Mentoring and instruction of nursing students in the classroom, lab, simulation centers, or clinical setting
  • Developing and implementing nursing program content and curricula utilizing appropriate teaching methods
  • Evaluate student learning and nursing program outcomes (such as licensure, exam pass rates, graduation rates, etc.)
  • Assist in the course scheduling to help meet the needs and demands of the evolving student (i.e. online and evening offerings to accommodate working students)
  • Maintain expertise in specialty through participation and attendance of continuing education offerings
  • Help ensure courses/content follow state regulatory requirements for nursing programs
  • Assist in student recruitment efforts

This list is not all-inclusive and responsibilities may vary between programs; however, this provides a concise synopsis of the typical duties.

Nursing Program Curriculum

The curriculum of a nursing program provides the foundation for learning and is heavily related to the success or failure of students. For programs aimed at preparing new nurses, content must meet regulatory requirements; otherwise graduates of the program will not be able to take the licensure exam to become licensed practical or registered nurses. Programs that aim to further the education for currently licensed nurses should aim to meet criteria for program accreditation. Organizations such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation offer voluntary accreditation for associate's and above programs to ensure the quality and integrity of the education being offered. Program accreditation is significant as employment, grants, and further certification may require graduation from an accredited nursing program.

CNEs ensure nursing programs meet these different criteria while still adequately preparing students by:

  • Maintaining a thorough understanding of accreditation and/or state board of nursing requirements
  • Utilizing and promoting evidence-based nursing practice
  • Incorporating information on societal and community trends in the course content (such as the aging population, disease trends, new treatments, etc.)
  • Understanding and meeting the unique learning needs of nursing students at various levels and across different ages and stages of life
  • Incorporating up-to-date concepts in both nursing education and nursing practice

Evaluating and Revising Nursing Curricula

The creation of a strong curriculum is only half the battle of providing a strong nursing education. Ongoing evaluation and improvements must occur so that students are receiving the latest and highest quality training. When the CNE evaluates a curriculum, the aim should be determining the effectiveness of the program in meeting the desired results, or outcomes, and how can it be improved. Ultimately, evaluation and revision should positively affect the healthcare consumer by providing a well-trained and knowledgeable nurse to provide care.

Nursing program outcomes can vary by school, but may include pass rate on the licensure exam, program completion/graduation rate, or ability to successfully obtain and maintain accreditation. The program may also choose to survey graduates and/or employers of graduates to determine the effectiveness of the program and suggestions for improvements. Seeking input from community and regional healthcare facilities may also be beneficial in the revision process to ensure the community needs for nurses are being incorporated in the curriculum. Evaluation and revision should be done routinely and should take a team approach, as it can be a daunting task.

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