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Up and coming at the CPNE

July 21, 2017

A look at how the CPNE is keeping pace in an evolving profession


As the scope of practice continues to expand for nurses, so does their need for advanced knowledge to meet practice challenges. The Centre for Professional Nursing Education (CPNE) is a key resource for nurses across Canada looking to keep pace with the evolution of their profession. But how does the CPNE keep up?

Continuous evaluation of courses, research on trends and issues in practice, and listening to feedback from nurses, employers and regulatory bodies help the CPNE stay on top of changes in the profession. The result is the centre’s ability to respond to nurses’ educational needs by developing new professional development courses like those outlined below and expected to be available in 2017.


Leanne Tyler, an RN and faculty member who wrote the CPNE’s pharmacology course, is currently working on a course that looks at the therapeutic application of pharmacology knowledge.

“Several provinces in Canada have taken steps toward enacting legislation that allows RNs to prescribe medication within specific settings, such as community and public health,” she says.

“ In undergrad nursing you establish a very basic knowledge, but nurses want and need more information about how to apply that knowledge in their everyday practice.” 
Leanne Tyler

Pharmacotherapeutics builds on a foundational understanding of pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics—the science of drugs, how the body affects drugs and their action within the body. It focuses on the study of the therapeutic uses and effects of drugs in the monitoring and management of clinical conditions, as well as related implications for nursing practice.

“In undergrad nursing you establish a very basic knowledge, but nurses want and need more information about how to apply that knowledge in their everyday practice,” says Tyler.

Nicole Simpson, academic coordinator with the CPNE, agrees. “The trend for nurses is to be more involved in the decision making within the health-care team. If you want to understand what the pharmacist, physician or nurse practitioner is talking about, you need a really good grasp of how pharmacology applies to practice.”

Advanced lab and diagnostics

The development of an advanced lab and diagnostics course was driven by evaluations from students who had completed the foundational lab and diagnostics course. “Students wanted to take their knowledge to the next level so they would have a better understanding of disease pathology and be more involved in decision making for their patients,” says Simpson.

Tyler is working with the CPNE to develop this course as well. “As a nurse, when you receive a patient’s lab or diagnostics results, you first need to be able to identify normal and abnormal, and then you need to understand what the implications of those results are and the appropriate action to take in response.”

This course is designed to help nurses in their clinical decision making and draws its content from the most recent evidence and practice guidelines.

Nursing informatics

In Spring 2015, the CPNE offered an Informatics Bootcamp in response to the growing need for health-care professionals to understand how to engage more effectively with client health information. “Feedback from that bootcamp was that people wanted a foundational course in informatics that was accessible, available and written by a credible instructor,” explains Simpson.

Manal Kleib, an RN with extensive experience in and knowledge of the field of informatics, is developing the new informatics module. She explains that while nurses use some of the systems that exist, they often do not actually engage with that system or understand how to evaluate the information it provides and, thus, use it effectively.

“Nursing is a knowledge-based profession, and informatics is key to our being able to provide evidence-based care and keep up with rapidly changing technology and innovation in health care,” Kleib explains.

Taken in conjunction with foundational coursework, this course will provide opportunities to examine the future of nursing informatics—a focus that sets it apart from other foundational informatics courses in the country.

“The reality is, the environment out there has moved way past introductory,” explains Simpson. “This module isn’t like a med calculation course, where it will always be the same. We need to be able to respond to rapid changes in this area.”

Teaching for tomorrow

With the future of nursing showing no signs of stagnation, it’s safe to say the quest for knowledge and the CPNE’s role in the evolution of practice won’t slow anytime soon.

“As educators, we really need to be at the edge of what’s coming,” explains Simpson. “We can’t always teach to what nurses are doing right now. Given how fast information and practice are changing, we need to teach nurses for tomorrow. ”

This entails keeping a thumb on the pulse of practice to identify educational needs and determine best practices for teaching courses already developed.

One area the CPNE continues to explore is clinical simulation. While simulation isn’t new in health-care teaching—think role-playing and using oranges for practising injections—in this technological age, simulation has evolved tremendously in the past 10 to 15 years.

“ We need to be at the edge of what’s coming. We can’t always teach to what nurses are doing right now. Given how fast information and practice are changing, we need to teach nurses for tomorrow.” 
Nicole Simpson

“There are many opportunities to integrate simulation into our programs and courses, both in the lab and online,” explains Shirley Galenza, director of the CPNE. “What I’m most excited about is the upcoming technology that will support online simulation, and how that will enhance student engagement and understanding of course content prior to attending labs. Learning supported with simulation provides a more enriched learning experience.”

Colette Foisy-Doll, director of MacEwan University’s Clinical Simulation Centre, and a team of nurse simulationists will be working closely with Galenza and CPNE faculty to find ways to integrate simulation into coursework and labs. She agrees with Galenza that the advanced technology brings some exciting possibilities to enhance students’ experiences.

“It’s really important to have learning in context,” explains Foisy-Doll. “Simulation and expert coaching shorten the bridge between what happens in the learning environment and what happens in real practice.”

Informing and advancing what happens in real practice is what the CPNE does best, whether through responsive education or enriched learning experiences for nurses and health-care providers.

“Advancing our knowledge as nurses helps us make sound clinical decisions,” says Tyler. “Ultimately, this affects patient outcomes in a positive way, which is really the goal: providing safe and competent care to patients.”

The Centre for Professional Nursing Education provides continuing education for nurses and health-care professionals.

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