Summer is the Power Season for Nursing Faculty


Co-Author, Fundamentals of Nursing:Active Learning for Collaborative Practice, 2e and Conceptual Care Mapping: Case Studies for Improving Communication, Collaboration, and Care, Elsevier

Summer is the season for creative thinking as a faculty member. When the number of committee and faculty meetings is typically fewer, it’s time to integrate more evidence-based active learning and evaluation strategies into our future courses. With medical knowledge predicted to double every 73 days by 2020 (Densen, 2011), active learning strategies that support the development of strong clinical decision-makers and lifelong learners must become the norm in our classrooms and labs.

Totally Worth It

In the 21st century, implementing evidence-based teaching strategies in the classroom is as critical as utilizing evidence-based practice in the clinical area. Revising our teaching strategies to include more active engagement of students takes time while being essential for enhanced student outcomes and patient safety. However, the time we spend developing active learning opportunities for students pays big dividends for our students and the patients for whom they provide care. Utilizing a variety of active learning strategies throughout a term will keep students engaged and prepared for class, lab, and clinical.

Require Conceptual Care Mapping

Concept mapping in many forms has been shown for several decades by multiple researchers as a teaching/learning method that provides deep learning and supports increased clinical judgment skills. Conceptual care mapping is a specific, evidence-based active learning strategy to replace traditional care plans. Concept maps that replace traditional care plans (conceptual care maps), “provide a visual model for students to view the interactions and relationships between bio–psycho–social aspects of the patient, disease signs and symptoms, medical management, medications, and nursing process” (Cook, Dover & Dickson, et al., 2012, p. 92).

Conceptual care mapping helps students visualize the relationships among their patient’s data, then analyze and synthesize the data necessary to develop an evidence-based, patient-centered care plan. Conceptual care mapping is a valuable learning tool in the classroom, lab, and clinical area. Require a conceptual care map (CCM) as a daily worksheet in the clinical area, then require approximately three CCMs/semester to be submitted for clinical evaluation, instead of a traditional care plan.

Have students develop conceptual care maps in the classroom from original, online, or textbook case studies. If you teach upper division courses, have a student present a case study (based on an anonymous clinical patient) and have the rest of the students discuss plans of care while completing a CCM. Require students to present evidence for their interventions and analyze lab and diagnostic testing data using their handheld reference resources. The visual aspect of the CCM allows students to more readily recognize connections among patient data, contributing to enhanced clinical judgment skills.

Conceptual care maps are also excellent evaluation tools that demonstrate the depth and application ability of students far more than typical quizzes and exams. Assign students an original case study and require each one to complete a CCM for didactic evaluation. Grading rubrics are already available for your revision and use.

Be Creative

Remember to mix up how you use active learning strategies throughout the semester. Students will better understand the complexity and uniqueness of patient care as a result of your time and effort. Encourage creativity in how students think about patient problems. Be energized and have a great year ahead!


Cook, L., Dover, C. & Dickson, M., et al. (2012). From care plan to concept map: A paradigm shift. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 7, 88-92

Densen P. (2011). Challenges and Opportunities Facing Medical Education. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc, 122, 48-58.

Authored by:

Barbara Yoost, MSN, RN, CNE, ANEF

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