Friday, April 3, 2015

Western Governors University - BS Nursing



Western Governors University's (WGU) BS Nursing program is a highly credible and well-recognized academic degree in the U.S. and outside it.

There are quite a few strengths of the program making it a highly credible pick by the certified nurses who want to move on to the next level: B.S. Nursing.

The standard completion time for this online course is 18 months in which the candidate has to cover quite a few time-bound tasks, projects, and activities that add up to their passing score. You can find all the details of this program here.

The purpose of this post is NOT to promote the WGU's BS Nursing program. No way! I write this post only to let you know that, EXCEPT FOR HARD/NATURAL SCIENCES TASKS, I can provide assistance in all the tasks for this program since this is my job to help out students in their time of difficulty while pursuing an academic goal in the middle of their professional and home-based responsibilities.

So, I would give you a brief overview about some of the major tasks required to complete in this program.

The degree is divided in quite a few sections/subdomains of health care and nursing, and each section covers subjects from basic calculus to literature, from evidence-based practice to community health nursing, etc. Major breakdown of the program falls into the following subdomains.

1. Professional development
2. Quality and safety
3. Evidence-based practice
4. Applied leadership
5. Community and population health

Under each of these subject areas, there are quite a few tasks and activities that involve fieldwork, research, collaboration, synthesis, and writing. The overall focus of the degree program, thus, is to develop in the nurse the professional skills and competencies that can help them play an active role at different levels in the health care sector.

If we look at the academic subdomain, Evidence-based practice, there are quite a few writing tasks that help the professional to nurture hardcore skills to play with evidence-based nursing. Evidence-based nursing has now become part of professional nursing, and so, the nurse has to consult available evidence with regards to a health care concern/issue needed for careful decision making.

WGU's EBP is particularly known for developing advanced-level skills for EBP in their students. The reason is that the subdomain enables the nurse to differentiate between different types of literature available in the current health care knowledgebase: 
  • Primary research
  • Secondary research
  • Evidence guidelines
  • Evidence summary
  • Meta-analysis
  • Synthesis of different types of evidence
and so on. Moreover, EBP also requires the nurse to carry out tasks that are field-based, i.e., the professional has to connect the literature search, review, and synthesis to the health care context they are either employed at or has knowledge of.

The end-result of covering the EBP is that the candidate gets away with a bundle of cutting-edge skills in EBP.

Community and Population Health Nursing is the most challenging yet exciting subdomain of BSN at WGU. Challenging because the professional has to carry out very rigorous activities by being part of a community (usually the ones they live in), and by applying the principles of community health nursing in that community to bring about a positive change.


C228 - Community Health Nursing – Task 1

For example, one of the tasks in this domain is Application of Community Health & Population-Focused Nursing, a lengthy write-up around 20 pages. Activities in the task involve applying quite a few tools to identify a community and understand the major health concerns the community faces. This is a field project. There are six mandatory tools needed of the researching nurse (You) to apply to his/her selected context and discuss the application in the main document. These are:

1. Population Economic Status Survey
2. Neighborhood/Community Safety Inventory
3. Cultural Assessment Tool
4. Disaster Assessment and Planning Guide
5. Windshield Survey
6. Population Health Scavenger Hunt. 

There are quite a lot of documents, guides, and links that accompany this task. The details required to carry out each of these six tools are clearly given in these accompanying resources. However, putting them all together in this task requires advance writing and synthesis skills. To make things easy for you, I discuss each of these six tools below giving you the insider's view, i.e., the approach by which you can have your task passed.

1. Population Economic Status Survey
PESS tool is actually a comprehensive approach taken by the nurse while working in the community to objectively understand the major health concerns faced by the community. The rationale for this tool, provided by the WGU, is that it helps the nurse to understand a health concern and argue her position in order to address the issue in favor of her community.

To cut short, the nurse has to dig deeper into major databases at the state and federal levels, i.e., American Fact Finer, City-Data.Com, Census.Gov, Healthy People 2020, etc. Alongside, she has to visit the local community centers such as the City Council, Health Department, non-profit organizations, and so on.

At the end of this exercise of information gathering, the nurse is able to understand the economic drivers at play in regards to the community's overall health status (the poor vs. the rich).

2. Neighborhood/Community Safety Inventory
NCSI is another tool to be applied in the community. It helps the nurse to understand the systemic level factors when it comes to her community's health status. This tool is to be filled up by observing and collecting data from community resources such as fire, police, emergency departments, disaster management to clearly understand the safety-related dynamics and to develop her inventory. Thus, you will have to visit the relevant departments to carry out this task which should involve formal/informal interviews and focus groups with the relevant staff; in addition, searching relevant databases over the Internet is part of the game here.

3. Cultural Assessment Tool
CAT clearly points us to the direction of understanding the racial/ethnic, gender, age-wise makeup of the community to help the nurse to better understand the dynamics of the present health concerns as spread over these domains. Understanding the role of culture is fundamental in community health nursing because it is well established in literature that different ethnic/cultural groups view epidemiology and treatment of a disease differently. For instance, a Hmong community member might possibly explain her epilepsy as a spirit taking her over.

This tool also requires you to search for data. However, it has a subjective element that requires you to meet different people and talk to them, interview them, and understand their viewpoint in relation to a health concern and its treatment. These two areas of investigation combine together to add another dimension to your community health nursing fieldwork.

4. Disaster Assessment and Planning Guide
DA&PG, as the title suggests, is about understanding the many resources your community utilizes to combat a disaster, natural or otherwise. This takes you to survey the community's geography to find out its industry, terrain, etc. and to plan for a possible route to prevent a disaster from hitting the community. DA&PG also asks you to take note of such factors as weather patterns, cultural outlook, contagious diseases, the spread of a disease, etc. It also puts you to trace the local government's position on these variables. As soon as you start to cover the areas given in the tool, the picture of disaster assessment and any loopholes start to emerge for you to argue in favor of your community's health.

5. Windshield Survey
WS tool should have come in the beginning of this list because it is used (and expected by WGU to be used) in the beginning of your community health fieldwork. As the name suggests, this tool is to get the feel of the community through the bird's eye view. WGU's guide to WS states, "While driving through your community, stop for coffee or have lunch in a neighborhood".

Hence, your focus is to bear a holistic understanding of your community's overall feel and look that includes its housing, commercial buildings, open spaces, etc.

6. Population Health Scavenger Hunt. 
PHSH tool follows the footprints of the famous scavenger hunt game. However, in this task, it requires the nurse to choose six facilities from the long list given in the supplementary resource. So, logically, what you're doing here is a scavenger hunt for the community's health by going to these facilities and collecting information. But the approach is rigorous and systematic.

For example, you chose American Red Cross. Now, the hunt requires you to answer the 13 questions given in the same guide from "What is the organization's target population?" down to "What specific services does the organization provide?". At the end, thus, your knowledge of the community is immaculate and you become an expert nurse on that community! Wow, hats off to the WGU's curriculum planners, honestly!

This should be very clear from the tools mentioned that the task is highly beneficial for nurturing community health nursing skills and competencies.

The task discussed above is followed by Community Health & Population-Focused Nursing Practicum. This task is also quite long, around 25 pages, and requires applying the knowledge of the community's health profile (as obtained in the previous task) to address ONE specific health concern (e.g. obesity, cancer, influenza, etc.). For this, the candidate, once again, jumps on to the field and works with a number of community-based stakeholders to come up with a viable health care plan to address that health concern by taking into account the epidemiology and the prevention factors of the health concern.
The fieldwork requires a lot of activities from collecting reliable statistics to critiquing available resources and any loopholes. With these areas covered, the nurse then DEVELOPS effective and EFFICACIOUS interventions. The required number is two.

These interventions are well-planned. You will have to demonstrate every aspect of these interventions, i.e. how you would carry out these interventions, their estimated impact factor, and the objective evaluations of the outcome.

So this practicum is really killing in terms of the skills, deeper level understanding of community health nursing, and the relevant competencies you gain while doing it.

With this brief overview of the WGU's BSN, I would suggest that you should go ahead and get your hands dirty with the explosive knowledge and skills that the program has to offer. However, if you need any assistance anywhere in the program, coming to me will not be a bad idea.

Good luck! My email: meokhan2/at/gmail/dot/com










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