Developing a Curriculum for the Nurse Resident in the Intensive Care Unit

Julie Childers

Grand Canyon University: DNP 837

May 10, 2020

Developing a Curriculum for the Nurse Resident in the Intensive Care Unit

            ICU nurses need to possess advanced skills, theoretical knowledge, capabilities, and competencies to care for patients who are critically ill in the fast-changing and challenging environment of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). The nurse resident program is a program that is designed to help bridge the gap for nurses to transition from student to nurse. In developing a curriculum for these residents, it is therefore crucial for educators to assess the needs and gaps among the residents so that they can create an evidence-based practice curriculum that meets individual nurse resident’s needs to achieve similar learning outcomes among all the residents. In curriculum development for ICU nursing resident, to ensure all learning gaps were closed, a needs assessment was conducted to drive the instructional goals and hence the curriculum content. The needs assessment will not only identify the problems and issues of the individual ICU nursing learners but will also drive the creation of instructional goals and generally drive the content of the curriculum.

Curriculum Needs Assessment

            To assess the learning needs of ICU nursing residents who had been exposed to the clinical learning environment were asked to fill an anonymous questionnaire on what they found challenging in the acute care setting. From the analysis of the self-report survey, one significant educational need stood out among half of the nursing residents, the challenge of coordination in an urgency and emergency situations. The residents reported having experienced stressful, challenging, and unpredictable circumstances during clinical learning. The needs assessment helped identify the residents’ abilities and compare them to what is expected of a competent nurse working in that area. In the real world, ICU nursing residents will often work in urgency and emergency situations, and it is, therefore, essential to ensure they can work in such environments. To sharpen their coordination in emergencies, this educational need identified among the residents need to be addressed. To prepare the residents to be competent nurses in the area, this educational need must be addressed, and hence, it must be considered in the development of the curriculum. This way, the needs of the residents will drive the content of the curriculum. From this assessment, I will be able to develop learning objectives that will close the existing knowledge and skill practice gap. One key focus of the curriculum will, therefore, be to teach emergency and urgency contents to the residents.

Instructional Goals and Resources

            The primary significance of the learners’ needs assessment is that it enables an educator to develop instructional goals or objectives to close the existing knowledge, practice, or skill gaps among the residents (Jannetti, 2012). From the assessment, the instructional goal for this curriculum unit will be to teach emergency and urgency content to the nursing residents. It will be essential to integrate various possible resources to sharpen the student’s clinical reasoning as well as doing (Morais Filho et al., 2018). This curriculum unit will need a broad knowledge required to care for patients in the ICU, including the humanization of care and the current technologies, among others. To teach the residents emergency and urgency contents, different resources will be used, and these include lectures, videos, presentations accompanied by discussions, case studies, games, debates, and role-play or simulation by the residents. The integration of practice and theory through the strategies, as mentioned above, will enable reflective teaching through knowing-in-action. Through lectures, videos, presentations, discussions, case studies, and debates, the residents will be taught the theoretical concepts of emergency and urgency in clinical settings. Through case studies, role-playing, games, and simulations, the residents will be presented with case studies and scenarios to practice on, hence, sharpening actions for immediate care combined with skills and technical knowledge and mediated by the utilization of current technology. Through this instructional goal and resources, the residents will learn how to work under emergency and urgency situations and hence competently provide care to patients in critical conditions.

The Population of Learners

            The population of learners will be undergraduate ICU nursing residents. ICU nurses are expected to possess hands-on technical skills as well as comprehensive education. They should possess an excellent skill set ranging from critical thinking to interpersonal skills to be able to care for critically ill patients. An educator of nursing residents is, therefore, is responsible for ensuring that nursing residents sharpen these mandatory skills. This curriculum unit will be delivered to the nursing residents in a traditional classroom learning environment. The classroom setting will offer dedicated time and fewer distractions and hence an excellent setting for optimal learning. It will, therefore, be an excellent learning environment to teach the critical emergency and urgency content to the nursing residents, thus closing the gaps between the residents’ skills and the best practice.


            The nurse resident program is a valuable and great program offered to help prepare the nurse for life as a nurse. The program is a foundation to help reduce the gaps in learning and skills needed by the nurse to provide optimal evidence-based quality care to the patient population they serve. This program commits to help build confidence, encourage critical thinking, and empower our future nurses to succeed in their nursing practice.


Keating, S. (2015). Curriculum development and evaluation in nursing (3rd ed.). New York,

NY: Springer Publishing Company.

Jannetti, A. J. (2012). A representation: Incorporating a needs assessment and gap analysis into the educational design. Pitman, NJ: Author.

Morais Filho, A., Gue Martini, J., Delacanal Lazzari, D., Ambrosina Vargas, M., Schubert Backes, V. M., & de Farias, G. M. (2018). STRATEGIES USED FOR TEACHING URGENCY/EMERGENCY IN A NURSING UNDERGRADUATE COURSE. Texto & Contexto Enfermagem27(4).

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