The SSU Department of Nursing educates exceptional nurse graduates who initiate and foster the equitable health of individuals within local and global communities.
Faculty model a philosophy of caring to sustain a nurturing learning environment that embodies a commitment to equity and standards of inclusive excellence.
The faculty in the Department of Nursing have collaboratively identified and defined our collective core values that guide our nursing philosophy and pedagogy.
- Integrity - Integrity is essential to every aspect of professional nursing that faculty believe includes upholding principles and standards, truth telling, humility, honesty, and veracity. Additionally, integrity includes adherence to the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics concepts of sincerity, authenticity, taking responsibility for actions, living in accordance with one’s principles, trustworthiness, and consistency of values, actions, and outcomes. These principles are demonstrated when one chooses to do the right thing when no one is looking, regardless of recognition.
- Love - The application of Dr. Jean Watson’s theory is demonstrated as the practice of loving kindness (Watson, 2018). Love reduces separation and builds connection between people (Adib-Hajbaghery & Bolandian Bafghi, 2020). “Love, as an aspect of human care, means respect for kindness, self-esteem, dignity, and human values” (Adib-Hajbaghery & Bolandian Bafghi, 2020, para. 3). Love is actualized by demonstrating compassion, empathy, respect, humility, and generosity.
- Equity - Equity requires unencumbered access and elimination of barriers, leading to optimal outcomes and health justice. “Equitable care aims to provide the entire population with safe, efficient, and reliable nursing services at all levels of health” (Rooddehghan, ParsaYekta, & Nasrabadi, 2019, p. 598). Faculty are committed to dismantling systemic oppression and share Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream of “equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where [we] will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few” (King Jr., 1961 as cited by UNAC - HCP).
- Accountability - Accountability is taking responsibility for choices, acknowledging autonomy of nursing and all actions taken in practice. As licensed practitioners, nurses have the responsibility to adhere to standards of care. Nurses must recognize their personal and professional power and understand the universal impact of their actions and decisions. Faculty create and support a system of just culture in educational and clinical practice environments. Part of following ethical conduct requires a nurse to be answerable to self and others for their actions.
- Courage - Courageous practice is acting on one’s values to assure just outcomes. This includes speaking the truth, not being a passive bystander, and having moral courage to advocate for safety, equity, and quality across healthcare roles and structures. Nurses demonstrate courage by managing conflict with skill and respect, and maintaining an active engagement in the care of our patients and the environments in which we work. Interactions across disciplines and dynamic reflection of personal and professional values uphold excellence and counter all forms of injustice and discrimination.
- Reflexivity - “Critical reflexivity is personal analysis that involves challenging” individual beliefs and assumptions to improve practice (Timmins, 2006, p.49). This allows for continuous improvement, growth, and authenticity, which includes examining values, feelings, thoughts, reactions, and motives (Nairn et al, 2012). In order to advance optimal health and educational outcomes, faculty practice and promote reflexivity through a process of shared wisdom and perspective-taking.
The philosophy of the Sonoma State University Nursing Department is based on two unique components. The first component includes two theoretical frameworks: Watson’s theory of human caring and critical social theory. The second component reflects the requirements of our credentialing bodies as described in the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s (AACN) 2021 Essentials, Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Standards, and California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) for both baccalaureate and master’s programs. Our core values of integrity, love, equity, accountability, courage, and reflexivity form the foundation of our department philosophy and are incorporated into the following statement:
The SSU Department of Nursing embraces Watson’s (2008; 2018) Theory of Human Caring and the field of Unitary Caring Science, to uplift a foundation of wholeness, relationality, and transcendence in its education of nurses. We believe in the connectedness and unity of all and advocate for the development of caring consciousness, which functions on assumptions of caring and love as a universal expression of humanistic-altruistic values. Caritas Consciousness is relational, requires authenticity, and offers a path toward humility and self-actualization. Respect and compassion for where we are now, and what we may become (Being/Becoming), commits one to the lifelong journey as a professional nurse. Through self-reflective, authentic presence and listening, one moves beyond ego-self to provide unitary care that is transformative. Utilizing a creative problem solving and transpersonal teaching/learning approach reflects self-love and growth to influence the unitary healing environment. Caring moments are highlighted to affirm human dignity through interactive processes wherein the nurse and patient collaborate to move toward health and expanded consciousness.
In order to fully actualize unitary caring moments in nursing, as well as comply with the American Nursing Association’s (2015) Code of Ethics, we embrace Critical Social Theory as a philosophical approach to educate students toward evolving into nurses who reflect values of justice and equity. Critical Social Theory calls for critique through inquiry and reflection, to challenge oppressive ideology, practices, and systems. Structural determinants of health perpetuate disparities and inequities that are well documented. This demands nursing action to counter historical and present day social, economic, and political factors that affect health. “Such theory is critical in the sense that it analyzes the roots and consequences of social inequities and injustices that privilege one group over another” (Chinn & Kramer, 2018, p. 76). Nurses are challenged to engage in praxis, an approach in critical reflection and action, to address health inequities. Emancipatory practice requires courage, integrity, risk-taking, and skill development to challenge oppressive social dominance and actively advocate for marginalized and divested communities. Through self-reflexivity and praxis, structural racism and social injustices can be disrupted. Through this philosophical lens, the faculty in our department hold ourselves and learners accountable to the deconstruction and co-creation of a new reality: health justice. Watson’s Theory of Human Caring and Critical Social Theory serve as key underpinnings for our department philosophy and are integrated throughout our curricula in all nursing programs.
A second component of our department nursing philosophy is the practical application of a competency-based education that prepares our graduates for safe and competent entry into practice and beyond. We have embraced the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials (2021) as the organizing framework for our curricula, program evaluation, and evaluation of student learning outcomes. We strive to ensure that our graduates are ready for practice and have the baseline competencies needed to safely and competently enter the nursing profession and be lifelong learners who make meaningful contributions to nursing practice. The AACN Essentials domains, concepts, and competencies are embedded in all courses and nursing programs within the Department of Nursing. The ten AACN domains serve as a framework for competency development across the curriculum and the eight key AACN Essential concepts, which are aligned with our department values, are integrated throughout the curriculum. The organizing framework, as demonstrated below, represents how the department philosophy informs the 10 curricular domains, surrounded by the eight key concepts, which are integrated into the curriculum.
The Department of Nursing philosophy statement is guided by our theoretical framework, values, and best evidence standards in nursing education, including the AACN Essentials and regulatory requirements. Core values are reflected in our selection of Watson’s theory of human caring and critical social theory. Operationalizing these principles will require ongoing reflexivity and a commitment to continuous growth. To that end, we strive to be open-minded, practice with humility, and engage in lifelong learning.