Nursing curriculum content: an innovative decision-making process to define priorities
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Curriculum planning in the health sciences is becoming increasingly complex due to rapid societal change and scientific discovery. The half-life of most curricula is 5 years, which necessitates a periodic close examination and revision of both content and process. For nursing faculty, this exercise is often viewed as an arduous one and traditionally can lead to endless hours of circular debate. Planning is usually in two stages; the first stage being the development of or agreement about a theoretical framework and the second stage is deciding on core content and teaching methodologies. This article focuses on decisions in the second stage. Traditionally, decisions around curriculum are arrived at by much debate. Some argue that all health issues should be addressed in the curriculum in order that the graduate be prepared to deal with a breadth of issues. However, this approach often leads to what has been referred to as 'curriculum hypertrophy', where, in an attempt to be all-inclusive, the curriculum grows without bounds. Rarely is anything dropped from the curriculum when this approach is used. Sometimes priorities are established on the basis of what the individual teaching staff deems important. In other cases a consensus approach is chosen.
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