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4/22/2015 6:00 PM

​​A major revision of the baccalaureate nursing curriculum is under development at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia. Dalhousie embarked on a three-year curriculum review and revision, informed by best educational practices, a Provincial Nursing Education Review Report, and a desire for change, which resulted in the development of an integrated, innovative 21st century eight-semester program, spanning a three-year period. Three Nova Scotia universities that offer a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, Cape Breton, Dalhousie and St. Francis Xavier, have collaborated on many curriculum related issues, to avoid duplication, share resources and increase accessibility and transferability for students. The modified curriculum is expected to begin Fall 2016.

An examination of the nursing curriculum was launched about three-years ago at Dalhousie. Using innovative curriculum mapping software created by a Dalhousie computer science professor, Dr. Christian Blouin, program and course outcomes, as well as provincial and jurisdictional competencies were mapped. With a complete spreadsheet of student learning outcomes (SL0s) in hand, the Dalhousie School of Nursing was one of four health care faculties across Canada to participate in a pilot of the Canadian Patient Safety Institute Safety Competencies mapping project.

“I cannot say enough about how much internal mapping and the Safety Competencies mapping project have informed a very creative, innovative and integrated nursing curriculum,” says Dr. Shelley Cobbett, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Dalhousie University School of Nursing.  “After the provincial nursing review, formal collaboration began between the three universities in Nova Scotia to ensure that nursing education is not only based upon a culture of safety, quality indicators and competencies but also to make it accessible and transferable within the province.”

Dr. Cobbett says that during the Safety Competencies mapping, at first glance, it appeared that the curriculum was not addressing adverse outcomes, which was a major red flag. Going into more detail, they found that they were teaching about adverse outcomes, adverse reporting, and the importance of patient’s rights, but these were not reflected in the SLOs. The safety competency mapping verified what they were doing very well, but also identified areas they needed to be very cognizant of as they moved forward in the development of the new curriculum. The mapping pilot also provided a comparative view to other Canadian nursing schools in relation to the Safety Competencies.

“By mapping student learning outcomes, we were able to identify where we had potential gaps in our provincial jurisprudence competencies and the national registered nurse competencies,” says Dr. Cobbett.  “We also looked at the Canadian Registered Nurse exam (CRNE) blueprint and the more recent national licensure exam alteration, the NCLEX-RN test plan. Dalhousie wanted to create a curriculum that was not content heavy or content saturated, and this mapping enabled careful consideration of the concepts and abilities students need to learn as well as confirming what is expected of a beginning registered nurse, all within a culture of safety.”

To learn more about the competency mapping and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute Safety Competencies, visit