Developing a Nursing Honors Program at the Departmental Level

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 10:00 AM

Ellen B. Buckner, DSN, RN, CNE
College of Nursing, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
Susan Hayden, RN, PhD
Adult Health Nursing, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL

Honors education in nursing may originate as a departmental program within the University Honors Program. Students are invited to apply near the time of admission to professional of the BSN program. Developing a departmental honors program can be done intentionally with care to establish faculty support of the process. A step-by-step discussion of relevant factors in the development of Honors in Nursing will be given. Specific topics meriting consideration include procedures for student recruitment and criteria for eligibility, and curriculum development to include models for course based seminars. Organizations facilitating undergraduate research, service-learning, and study abroad have advocated for extending learning opportunities at the highest levels, including that of professional education. There is a need for faculty development on nurturing excellence in high achieving nursing students and honors programs are one mechanism for that development. 

The discussion will introduce three models of nursing honors experiences. Components specific to undergraduate research include identification of a research mentor, exploration of relevant literature, development of a clinical question, implementation of qualitative or quantitative approach, and data analysis. Service-learning models build on academic learning, meaningful service, and civic engagement. Students implement a service-learning plan based on a collaborative relationship in the community. In study abroad experiences students have the opportunity to study a culture, develop relationships with sponsoring organizations, and initiate projects that meet the needs identified by the host country. Other models of honors education may include the development of a thesis based on a nursing theory, nursing history, or instrument development. For all models, students learn and practice for dissemination of the scholarship of nursing.  Clinical significance includes contributions to evidence-based practice.  Finally, the authors recommend opportunity for students to reflect on the process, deepening their self-awareness of learning and future potential for scholarship in nursing practice.