School of Nursing

Mission Statement

The School of Nursing (SON), as an integral part of National American University (NAU), is in concert with its mission, core values and purposes. Consistent with the overall university mission, the SON mission is to prepare competent nursing graduates by providing a caring, diverse, and student-centered environment that fosters critical thinking and enhances holistic health care across the life span. The nursing programs offer career mobility through an articulated ladder approach to nursing education.


Maintain and mature the infrastructure of the SON and the practice of nursing education.

Core Values

Offer high-quality nursing education and collaborative community partnerships.
Provide a caring and supportive learning environment for nursing students.
Offer professional nursing programs leading to career advancement and professional development.

  • Prepare learners to influence the delivery of healthcare services through safe and accountable clinical judgment.
  • Promote and facilitate (student-centered) lifelong learning opportunities responsive to the needs of students, graduates, faculty, community, and profession.
  • Commit to the advancement of nursing knowledge and application to health care by collaborating with faculty within and external to the university and with professionals in healthcare and community agencies.
  • Support and participate in activities that interpret and promote the role of the nurse, influence nursing practice, and the concept of caring.
  • Support efforts to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds and experiences who demonstrate potential for success in nursing.
  • Incorporate a holistic approach to culturally congruent care throughout the lifespan.

School of Nursing Philosophy

The SON derives its philosophy and purposes from the mission statement of NAU. The SON and its faculty believe that nursing education should enable students to acquire the knowledge and proficiencies necessary to practice culturally competent and congruent nursing care and meet the changing needs of society. The philosophy and conceptual model are based on the learning paradigms of Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). In accordance with these paradigms, the faculty believes that education is predicated on the following constructs derived from Benner’s Novice to Expert and Leininger’s Transcultural Nursing theories:

  1. Experiential: student-centered and lifelong learning; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty believe nursing education includes experiences and activities that promote learning in open learning climates where students may examine and discuss transitions in understanding, mistakes, or misconceptions in actual clinical situations (Benner). Nursing is embraced as a discipline committed to the importance of lifelong learning for the maintenance and advancement of knowledge.

The SON and faculty further believe culturally congruent care reflects an infinite number of factors that affect well-being which is important for today’s diverse society. It is through culturally congruent care that nursing finds an infinite number of explored and unexplored dimensions of care as a pursuit for enhanced knowledge which may result in predictable care outcomes (Leininger).

  1. Caring: essential to nursing and nursing education; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty embrace Benner’s tenet that caring practice is the invisible work of nursing, acknowledges a common human condition and is required to nurture and sustain human life.

The SON and faculty further embrace Leininger’s definition: “Care is the heart of nursing; Care is power; Care is essential to healing (or well-being); Care is curing; and Care is (or should be) the central and dominant focus of nursing and transcultural nursing decisions and actions” (Leininger, 1991, 2002, 2006).

  1. Clinical Judgment: qualitative distinction, evolves over time, integrative/dynamic; Benner (1984, 2000, 2001). The SON and faculty believe Benner’s tenet that clinical judgment is based on recognition of dynamic patient/family/community transitions across time in response to conditions and associated treatment. The nurse’s clinical judgment evolves over time as the nurse gains experience and furthers education in the profession.
  2. Holistic Health/Illness/Death; Leininger (1991, 2002, 2006). The SON and faculty believe nursing education should embrace the care of clients as addressed within all stages of health from wellness to death. Within the art of healing and comforting, utilization of a holistic perspective should support and enhance human dignity. This holistic perspective views cultural insight as a pivotal factor that directs and shapes well-being within an individual, the family, and the community as a whole.

The SON uses the tenets of Benner (1984, 2000, 2001) and Leininger (1991, 2000, 2006) to form the eclectic conceptual framework. Specifically, Benner’s work on Novice to Expert (1984) provides a framework for the SON. The SON programs are built upon various student levels of education and experience and designed to enhance career mobility. Concepts of care and culture based on Leininger are threaded throughout the curricula. The constructs: experiential learning, caring, clinical judgment, and holistic health/illness/death provide horizontal threads that serve as broad categories under which a variety of content can be addressed. They are not considered mutually exclusive. It is recognized that the rapid evolution of nursing science, practice, and education demands ongoing reexamination of categories and concepts.

The SON and faculty believe nursing is a practice profession with a defined body of knowledge and outcomes. Nursing practice is embraced through education as holistic, caring in nature incorporating, and supporting lifelong learning.

Nursing Practice and Nursing Education

A knowledge base reflective of the varying levels of nursing practice contributes to incorporating information to promote health, prevent disease, restore health, and promote adaptation across the lifespan. Nursing demands the ability to adapt to a changing environment in assessing, analyzing, planning, implementing, and evaluating nursing care.

Continued learning and application of facts and principles are necessary for effective clinical judgment in patient care settings. As providers of health services, nurses should be self-directive, creative, critical thinkers who strive for lifelong learning, regardless of their level of practice.

Within nursing, there are levels of practice within varying settings which require different educational preparation. Educational preparation within each level of practice should build on previous knowledge to facilitate career mobility.

The NAU Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) curriculum was designed to provide a broad base of principles from science and liberal arts including additional specialized courses in leadership, healthcare delivery systems, community and public health nursing, health promotion, nursing research, and evidence-based practice. To ensure the program quality and integrity, the BSN program follows the standards set out in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2008). The baccalaureate graduate enters the nursing profession as a nurse generalist with a strong foundation for developing specialized clinical practice and other advanced practice roles. The BSN graduates are prepared to function effectively in ambiguous, unpredictable, and complex environments; demonstrate critical thinking and flexibility; translate, integrate, and apply knowledge to enhance patient care quality and safety. The program graduates possess the skills and credentials necessary to pursue graduate education.

The NAU Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program includes four emphasis areas: Nursing Administration, Care Coordination, Education and Nursing Informatics. The MSN program utilizes the Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2011) to integrate the core competencies of the essentials into the MSN curricula for the various emphasis areas. These competencies prepare the graduate for emerging roles in healthcare design, delivery and leadership, as well as higher education. The MSN graduates are prepared to face challenges of today’s complex academic and healthcare environments, as well as assume leadership roles at the local, state, national, and international levels.

The model below represents the organizing structure of the NAU SON and illustrates the emphasis on lifelong learning throughout all programs in a culturally congruent context for all populations. Students enter the SON at varying points in their careers (pre-licensure ASN, BSN, online RN to BSN and/or MSN). Although students enter Benner’s (1984, 2000, 2001) continuum at different starting points (as a result of additional knowledge and experience), they continually move toward higher levels of competence. The implication for teaching and learning is emphasized by the constructs of caring, experiential, clinical judgment, and holistic health/illness/death.

Organizing Structure of NAU SON


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2008). The essentials of baccalaureate education for professional nursing practice. Retrieved from

American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2011). The essentials of master’s education in nursing. Retrieved from'sEssentials11.pdf.

Benner, P. (1984). From novice to expert. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley.

Benner, P. (2000). Shaping the future of nursing. Nursing Management, 7(1), 31-5.

Benner, P. (2000). The wisdom of caring practice. Nursing Management, 6(10), 32-37.

Benner, P. (2001). Taking a stand on experiential learning and good practice. American Journal of Critical Care, 10(1), 60-62.

Leininger, M. M. (1991). Culture care diversity and universality: A theory of nursing. New York, NY: National League for Nursing Press.

Leininger, M., & McFarland, M. (2002). Transcultural nursing: Concepts, theories, research, and practice. New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Leininger, M., & McFarland, M. (2006). Culture care diversity and universality. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.

National League for Nursing. (2010). Outcomes and competencies for graduates of practical/vocational, diploma, associate degree, baccalaureate, master’s, practice doctorate, and research doctorate programs in nursing. New York, NY: National League for Nursing Press.