Curriculum Recommendations


In fall 2010, the ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice, 2nd Edition added Standard 16 Environmental Health. This standard requires that practicing nurses meet the competencies of the standard in their professional practice.  In addition, the 2008 AACN Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice includes environmental health for nursing curriculum.

While these recommendations are not new to many nurses who already include environmental health in their academic teaching, for the majority of prelicensure nursing programs, this mandate is new and challenges nursing faculty to respond.  The results of a survey conducted by the Education Work Group of Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments (AHNE) in 2009 indicate that most often environmental health content is taught in a community/public health nursing course or in a separate environmental health nursing course.   In addition, respondents to the survey noted that the majority of faculty in baccalaureate programs felt unprepared to teach environmental health nursing.

AHNE recommends that content that addresses environmental risks to health, issues specific to various life stages such as the fetus, infant, children, adolescents, adults, and older adults, must be integrated across the curriculum. This is necessary in order to prepare nurses to protect humans, create healthy environments, and advocate the reduction of harmful effects of toxins.

Recommendations for Baccalaureate Nursing Education

In June 2009, ANHE members developed competencies for nursing practice that have guided the recommendations for baccalaureate nursing education.

ANHE members met in May 2011 to develop the following recommendations for baccalaureate nursing education.  Participants represented specialists in medical-surgical, pediatric, obstetric, gerontological, behavioral, and community/public health nursing practice and education. Additionally, participating faculty also taught research, fundamentals, assessment, and leadership. The guidelines provide examples of essential content and possible teaching strategies relevant for courses commonly taught in baccalaureate nursing programs.  The content and teaching strategies can be adapted to meet variations in program offerings.  For example, content included for a course in pediatric nursing could be added to the content recommended in a maternity/beginning family course if the curriculum included those populations in a joint parent/child course.  Advocacy and policy content can be applied in courses addressing any of the populations across the life span.

Participating faculty believed that they already include some environmental content in their courses, but that it is important to name the content as “Environmental Health” so that students see that the content and competencies are threaded through the curriculum. Graduates will need to demonstrate environmental health competencies in their respective practice settings.

The following material includes: Appropriate Environmental Health Content, Teaching Strategies and Resources, and Related Environmental Health Competencies from ANA and ANHE for each Specific Classes/General Content Areas in Entry-Level Curricula. Priority areas are also identified within each class/content area.

ANHE BSN curriculum

Recommendations for Associate Nursing Degree Education

In June 2009, ANHE members developed competencies for nursing practice that have guided the recommendations for baccalaureate nursing education.

In the fall of 2012, ANHE members considered the Curriculum Recommendations for Baccalaureate Education (2011) with a specific focus on how the essential content in nursing education is offered in most Associate Degree programs.  Using the identical competencies from ANHE, from ANA and adding those from the National League for Nursing, recommendations were made based upon appropriate content for each general content area.  Allowing for the variety of school or college curriculum plans, the content areas serve as a guide for commonly taught content areas.

We urge faculty to select what works best in their particular nursing program. The content and teaching strategies can be adapted to meet variations in program offerings.  For example, content included for a course in pediatric nursing could be added to the content recommended in a maternity/beginning family course if the curriculum included those populations in a joint parent/child course. Advocacy and policy content can be applied in courses addressing any of the populations across the life span.  If a specific course is not offered for community/public health, essential content can be adapted into other courses.

ADN Curriculum Recommendations 1-13-2013

Recommendations for RN-BSN

In early 2013 a small group of members of the ANHE Education Workgroup began meeting to develop the recommendations for RN-BSN education found below.  Guiding the development of these curriculum recommendations were the competencies developed by ANHE in 2009 and ANA Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (2010).  Participants represent faculty in RN-BSN programs with specialties in women’s health and public health.  Participating faculty also taught research, assessment, leadership, and environmental health. The guidelines identify specific content areas with appropriate environmental health content for each content area. Accompanying the environmental health content are teaching strategies including resources and the source of identified competency. The content and teaching strategies can be adapted for use in related courses. For example, some of the strategies in community health could be adapted for use in a leadership course including policy and advocacy.

Faculty working on the curriculum recommendations believed that some environmental health content was already being taught in RN-BSN courses but felt that more clear identification of environmental health content was needed.

RN-BSN Curriculum Recommendations

Graduate Curriculum Recommendations

In the spring of 2012, a subgroup of AHNE members from the AHNE Education Workgroup met to develop curriculum recommendations for the graduate level of education.  Unlike the entry into practice level of education, graduate courses vary tremendously in how courses are organized to address competencies set forth by leading nursing organizations and accreditation programs. Working with this perspective the team used competencies from guiding documents from the Alliance of Nurse for Healthy Environments (2009),  the ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice, 2nd Edition (2010), the Essentials of Masters Education in Nursing (2011), The National Organization of Nurse Practitioners document Nurse Practitioner Core Competencies (2012)  and the Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006.)

In recognition of the fact that competencies for advanced nursing practice demand higher levels of knowledge and skills, to date most practicing nurses lack the essential knowledge to meet the Standard 16 of the ANA Scope and Standards of Nursing Practice, 2nd Edition (2010) requirements for the basic level of education.  Consequently, the Graduate Recommendations include content areas that address both basic and advanced levels of nursing practice.

The recommendations were organized around broad competency requirements put forth in the guiding documents rather than around courses as was done for the entry into practice educational recommendations.  The following material for each topical area includes: Appropriate Environmental Health Content, Teaching Strategies and Resources, and Related Environmental Health Competencies from ANA, AACN, and ANHE.

ANHE Graduate Course Recommendations