Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework of the School of Nursing may be summarized in the following statements: Health is a result of the interaction of a person with the environment and constantly changes across time. Nursing is the resource in the environment that can influence the health of a person through use of the processes of inquiry, caring, and practice. The conceptual framework serves as a guide for the selection of nursing content, ordering of courses, and sequencing of meaningful learning experiences. The movement through the curriculum has as bi-determinants both content and process components.

Content Components

The four concepts central to the curriculum are person, environment, health, and nursing. The concepts are defined as follows:


Person incorporates the concepts of learner, self, individuals, families, groups, and communities. Human beings are unique individuals who have worth, rights, and inherent dignity. Persons have biological, psychological, social, spiritual, and cultural traits that influence their development. Throughout the life span, individuals exist within a cultural and social milieu and encounter phenomena that have an impact on optimal health and development.


Environment is the sum total of all internal and external phenomena and processes that have an impact on people. Environment includes physical, psychological, social, spiritual, and cultural elements as well as historical, political, and economic conditions. Nursing is a resource in the environment that can influence health of a person.


Health represents a dynamic state of being resulting from interaction of person and environment. Health is actualized through competent personal care, goal directed behavior, and satisfying relationships with others. Adjustments are made as needed to maintain stability and structural integrity. A person’s state of health can vary from optimum wellness to illness, disease, and dysfunction and changes throughout an individuals’ life span, including at the end of life.


Nursing is the teaching of health promotion practices; the continuous care of the acutely or chronically ill; the restorative care during convalescence and rehabilitation; the supportive care given to maintain the optimum level of health of individuals, families, groups, and communities; the teaching and evaluation of those who perform or are learning to perform these functions; the support and conduct of research to extend knowledge and practice; and the management of health care delivery.

Process Components

Interwoven with the concepts which determine content are those process concepts which nursing uses to maintain and improve the health of persons in their environment. These processes include inquiry, caring, and practice and are conceptualized as follows:


Inquiry is the process of seeking, developing, and applying knowledge. Inquiry includes the nursing process, scientific process, and research process. It also includes critical thinking, a deliberate and systematic process, which involves analysis and interpretation, inductive and deductive reasoning, drawing logical inferences, and evaluating and justifying conclusions.


Caring is a process, a way of relating to someone that involves development. In a caring relationship, a person or idea is experienced both as an extension and as something separate from oneself. One experiences what is cared for as having dignity and worth with potentialities and need for growth and development. Caring is the antithesis of possessing, manipulating, or dominating. In any actual instance of caring, there must be someone or something specific that is cared for. Caring cannot occur in the abstract, nor can it occur by sheer habit. An essential ingredient of caring is communication: a dynamic, developmental process of transmitting perceptions, thoughts, and ideas in verbal, non-verbal, and written interactions. Within an intentional caring process, messages are effectively conveyed by persons or through technology. Other essential ingredients of the caring process are: knowledge, self-awareness, patience, honesty, trust, humility, hope, and courage.


The ability to provide evidenced based nursing interventions is the core of professional nursing practice. Nursing interventions are those direct or indirect interactions that occur between a nurse and client to diagnose and treat human responses to actual or potential health problems. Furthermore, nursing interventions have cultural and ethnic relevance for the client and are carried out within the ethical and legal domains of practice. In clinical practice, nurses use the nursing process to interact with clients in achieving mutual goals. The nursing process is informed through nursing research and consists of activities related to assessment, diagnosis, analysis, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Professional nurses acquire and maintain current knowledge and are willing to participate in peer review and other activities that insure quality of care. Nurses also communicate effectively with clients, families, and interdisciplinary healthcare providers to promote a safe, effective quality care environment.