The mission of the School of Nursing (SON) of Western Kentucky University is to produce culturally sensitive nurses for an increasingly global society at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels and to provide continuing education opportunities for lifelong learning to our constituents.
The SON faculty members believe that education for professional nurses is built upon knowledge from the liberal arts and sciences and occurs within institutions of higher learning. The School of Nursing provides two options for entry into practice, the Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree builds upon the baccalaureate degree and is the foundation for advanced nursing practice and doctoral education.
Nursing is a professional discipline, an art and science, which applies knowledge from the liberal arts and sciences to meet the health care needs of patients. The goal of professional nursing practice is to assist patients in achieving an optimal level of functioning across the lifespan.
Professional nursing practice encompasses the application of the nursing process, critical thinking skills, communication and scientific inquiry in the delivery of nursing care in a variety of settings. Nurses assume multiple roles based on educational preparation. Generalist nurses prepared at the Associate and Baccalaureate levels assume the roles of provider of care, designer/manager/coordinator of care, and member of a profession. Masters prepared nurses assume specialty roles based on educational preparation and experience. Nurses at all levels use inter and intraprofessional communication and collaborative skills to deliver evidenced based interventions aimed at health promotion, risk reduction, disease surveillance/prevention/management and patient centered care for patients of all ages and diverse cultures. All professional nurses are accountable for their practice within the guidelines of standards of care and ethical codes set forth by professional organizations.
The patient, the recipient of nursing care and/or services, is conceptualized as an individual, family, group, community or population that is unique with intrinsic worth and dignity. The patient does not exist in isolation but as part of a complex interaction among other persons and the environment. Patients come from diverse backgrounds that require culturally sensitive nursing care. Patients have the right to self-determination. The unique interaction between the nurse and the patient is the essence of professional nursing practice.
Health reflects the patient's optimal level of functioning. Health is a dynamic process influenced by the complex interaction of biological, economic and environmental factors, values and beliefs, societal interactions, and health behaviors. Professional nursing practice enhances the patient's optimal level of functioning.
The environment consists of internal and external parameters that affect patients. The parameters include biological, cultural, economic, political, psychosocial, and spiritual factors. Any change in the environment has the potential to influence the patient's health. Nurses assist patients to modify the environment for improvement of health.
Nursing education is a dynamic interactive process between faculty and learner that leads to the acquisition and application of knowledge for professional nursing practice. The learner is an active and responsible partner within the learning process. The learner is engaged in scholarly activities that result in the integration and application of knowledge. The faculty members are facilitators and resources who direct the learner towards self-discovery. Faculty use evidenced based methods appropriate to the level of the learner throughout the educational process. Nursing education is a process that fosters independence and a quest for life- long learning. Nursing education occurs at the associate, baccalaureate and graduate levels and through continuing education.
Continuing education facilitates self-growth and competence in nursing practice and is provided through educational offerings based upon the needs of constituents. Professional development is the responsibility of the individual nurse; however, as an institution of higher learning, Western Kentucky University SON contributes to the continued growth of constituents through quality continuing education and certificate programs
University administrative officers and members of various health and community agencies in the Bowling Green area identified a need for adequately prepared registered nurses in Southwestern Kentucky. In 1962, the Board of Regents of Western Kentucky University approved the establishment of a basic nursing program. In October 1962, the Kentucky Board of Nursing Education and Nurse Registration granted approval to establish an Associate Degree Program in Nursing at Western Kentucky University. The first students were admitted in the Fall 1964 and graduated in May 1966. The program was first granted initial accreditation by the NLN Council of Associate Degree Board of Review in 1966 and has continued to be reaccredited since that time, with the last reaccreditation being in 2015 by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The physical relocation of the ASN Program to the WKU South Campus occurred Fall 1998 where it was part of the WKU Community College. In an attempt to meet the needs of students in outlying areas of the WKU service area, the ASN Program began offering nursing courses at the Glasgow Extended Campus Fall 1987 and continued admitting cohorts until Fall 2015. In 2011 the ASN program was officially made part of the WKU School of Nursing. In Fall 2013 the ASN program added an entry option for licensed LPNs to complete their ASN with flexible delivery methods. The traditional ASN program accepted its last class January 2017 and will be closing after these students graduate, but the online LPN to ASN program is continuing to accept students twice a year.
The Board of Regents of Western Kentucky University approved a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) completion program for RNs in June 1974. The first class of RN students was admitted fall 1976 and graduated May 1978. The NLN Council of Baccalaureate and Higher Degree Board of Review granted this program initial accreditation in December 1979. Since1998, the program has been accredited under the auspices of the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. The BSN completion program was extended to Owensboro in 1984 and Glasgow in 1988. This program was offered onsite in Glasgow for two years to meet constituent needs. During 1998-1999 the baccalaureate curriculum for RNs was revised in response to needs of RNs in the Western Kentucky University service area. Using interactive television (IVS), classes were televised from the main campus to six distant sites. The first group of students under the revised curriculum graduated in May 2001. In Spring 2010, the program officially changed its name from the Post-RN/BSN Program to the RN to BSN Program. The program began transition to an all online course delivery in Spring 2010. In the Fall of 2010, the RN to BSN program became an on-line cohort model.
In 1988, the faculty of the Department of Nursing identified the need to develop and implement a traditional prelicensure BSN program. The traditional BSN program admitted 40 students/year. However, due to the high level of student demand, the program began admitting 40 students each semester (80/year) in spring 2006. A national nursing shortage and a continued demand for BSN prepared nurses led the program to seek and receive approval to double in size again in fall of 2012 and admit 80 students each semester (160/year). The demand for more nurses has continued to increase and the BSN program expanded again in the fall of 2017 when we admitted our first cohort of 120 students (240/year). The BSN and Higher Programs relocated from the main campus to the new WKU Health Sciences Complex in 2013. The BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents and the Council on Postsecondary Education approved a proposal for a Master of Science degree program in 1995. The program was approved to prepare Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) as primary care practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse administrators. The primary care nurse practitioner concentration was implemented in fall 1995 with its first graduate completing the program in August 1997. The nurse educator tract was implemented in fall 2001. The first nursing administration course was taught in fall 2005, the first cohort completing this concentration in May 2006. There is also a post-masters certificate option available in the nurse practitioner and nurse educator's concentrations. This certification was designed to meet the needs of masters prepared nurses desiring to practice as primary care nurse practitioners or nurse educators. The MSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Due to decreasing student demand, the MSN nurse educator and Nurse Administrator tracks and post-graduate certificate programs in nursing education and administration are not admitting new students as of Fall 2018. These tracks will be closing as soon as the currently enrolled students graduate. The Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) MSN track and post mater's certificates in FNP and PMNNP will continue to accept students.
In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) endorsed the Position Statement on the Practice Doctorate in Nursing, which proposed to change the education of advanced practice nurses (APNs) by requiring a DNP by 2015 as the entry level for practice for nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and nurse midwives. In the spring of 2010, the Kentucky Legislature passed SB 127 allowing regional universities to offer a DNP program. Following completion of a needs assessment of the advanced practice nurses in the WKU service area, the faculty developed a proposal for a DNP program.
In the spring of 2011, the School of Nursing graduate program received approval from the WKU Board of Regents, the Kentucky Board of Nursing and the Kentucky Council on Post Secondary Education for a new DNP program with tracks for Post-MSN and Post BSN students. Twenty (20) Post-MSN DNP students were admitted in the fall of 2011. Post-BSN students will be admitted to the DNP program in the fall of 2013.