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History and Philosophy

 Mission Statement

The School of Nursing and Allied Health prepares students of all backgrounds to be productive, engaged and socially responsible health care providers. Through the use of service and inter-professional learning opportunities, students are prepared to function in an increasingly global society and to provide creative evidence based and ethical solutions for complex healthcare issues. The desire for lifelong learning is instilled in graduates as a means to continue personal professional development and to affect positive change in healthcare systems and policy.


  1. Provide high quality programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels for SONAH students.
  2. Produce ethical and competent health care professionals ready to enter the workforce.
  3. Prepare graduates to become informed and engaged future leaders in the health care system through use of evidence-based practice and advocacy for themselves and their patients.
  4. Provide engaging learning experiences within our classrooms, labs and community-based settings.
  5. Provide an environment that respects individual differences and cultures and enhances personal and professional growth for students, faculty and staff.

Philosophy of the School of Nursing and Allied Health

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.


Brief History of the School of Nursing and Allied Health at WKU

Associate of Science in Nursing Program - Now Online LPN To RN Program.

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 is now closed. The online LPN to ASN program is now accepting LPN's only.LPN's who wish to become RN's can start online classes in January,  May or August each year.  Classes for this program are online, and supervised clinicals are offered in select locations.

RN to BSN Program (Closed)

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.  Due to decreasing student demand and available resources, as of January 2019 the WKU RN to BSN program stopped admitting new students. The last WKU RN to BSN students graduated Dec 2021.  

BSN Program

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.

Master of Science in Nursing Program

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 program was started with approval of the Kentucky Board of Nursing and all WKU nursing programs were under accreditation by the National League for Nursing (NLNAC) at that time. In 2002 the SON changed to AACN-CCNE, and all nursing programs above the level of ASN have been accredited by CCNE since that time. Our last site visit was in 2017, and we have full accreditation through 2027.

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 were 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.  Due to decreasing student demand, the MSN nurse educator and Nurse Administrator tracks and post-graduate certificate programs in nursing education and administration stopped admitting new students as of Fall 2018. These tracks are now closed.  As of 2019 we started a new Masters entry program in nursing (MEPN) for people who hold undergraduate BS or BA degrees in other fields. This program allows these students to return to school and earn both a BSN and MSN in 2 years of full time study.  Currently at the MSN level we continue to offer the Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP) MSN track, Masters Entry for Professional Nursing (pre-licensure program) and post mater's certificates in FNP and PMNNP  continue to accept students. 

Masters Entry Professional Nursing (MEPN) Program

In fall 2019 the SONAH admitted their first MEPN students. The MEPN program is an accelerated entry program for highly qualified students with a prior BS/BA degree in a field other than nursing who wish to obtain a BSN and  MSN at the same time. Students must have an over GPA of 3.0 or higher in their prior BS degree, must complete the requied 3 prerequiste courses with a grade of B or above, and must maintain  a GPA of 3.0 to remain in the program. The program runs year round (including summer term) and takes two years to complete once the nursing courses are started. For more information see https://www.wku.edu/nursing/mepn.php

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program

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. BSN

to DNP students were first admitted to the DNP program in the fall of 2013.

Dental Hygiene Programs

In 2019 the WKU Board of Regents approved combining the Department of Dental Hygiene with the School of Nursing, to create the School of Nursing and Allied Health. The Dental Hygiene program remained on the main campus and offers a AS and BS in Dental Hygiene. The programs are selective, and students must meet minimum requirements to be admitted to the major. Once accepted into the program, student smust maintain and average of "C" or better in each Dental Hygiene Course. See https://www.wku.edu/dentalhygiene/ for more information about the Dental Hygiene programs.






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 Last Modified 7/14/23