Graduate Program Student Handbook 1. Getting Started

1.1 History of the School of Nursing

In l975, in direct response to requests nurses in the community, the University of North Florida (UNF) in cooperation with the University of Florida and Florida A & M University initiated a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for registered nurses (RN to BSN). In l977, UNF received approval from the Board of Regents of the State University System (SUS) to offer its own freestanding baccalaureate nursing curriculum. The program continued to admit registered nurse students and with approval from the Board of Nursing, admitted a class of prelicensure students in the fall of l982. Because of a state budgetary shortfall in l983, UNF temporarily discontinued the admission of prelicensure nursing students, continuing with RN to BSN admissions only.


The University reinstated the prelicensure baccalaureate curriculum the summer of l986. The first three years, a cohort of 24 prelicensure students was admitted each spring to begin the baccalaureate program of study. Once-a-year admissions increased to 36 in 1989 and 40 in 1990. The Florida State Board of Nursing approved expansion of the prelicensure nursing program on 1995 to admit two cohorts of 36 students per year, summer and fall. This increased to 48 per cohort in 2002.


Registered nurse students continue to be admitted to the RN to BSN track and account for an enrollment of approximately 50 to 75 students at any given time.


In June 1985 the nursing program achieved initial accreditation from the National League for Nursing which was officially retroactive to April 1984 and continuous through 1993. The program received full re-accreditation in 2001 from NLN, and in 2005 from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


In 1988, the Division of Nursing, along with other health-related programs, became departments in the new College of Health.


In November 1997, the School of Nursing received approval from the Board of Regents to open a Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program culminating in a Master of Science in Nursing. The first group of students was admitted in fall 1998. The program provides both part-time and full-time enrollment. A certificate program, for registered nurses already holding a master’s degree in nursing was added in 2000. Permission was received in 2005 to add a nurse anesthesia program, and the first cohort was admitted in 2006.


In May 2002, the Department of Nursing was re-designated as the School of Nursing.


In 2003, the School of Nursing designed an accelerated track in the prelicensure program for those students already holding a baccalaureate degree in another field and desiring a career in nursing. The accelerated prelicensure track is completed in 3 1/2 consecutive semesters of full-time study. In May 2003, the School of Nursing admitted the first 12 students into this cohort of accelerated study, increasing to 24 in May 2004.


At his inauguration in 2004, UNF President John Delaney outlined his vision for the selection and advancement of a limited number of academic "Flagship" programs within the University. His intent was to identify and promote programs of excellence that have the potential to be recognized as state or national leaders within their fields of study. In July 2005, the School of Nursing was selected as UNF's first Flagship program. Flagship designation recognized the School of Nursing's unique community-based, population-focused curriculum.


In July, 2007 the School of Nursing received approval from the Board of Governors to open a doctoral program culminating in a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The first group of students was admitted in fall 2007 with the first graduating class summer 2009.

1.2 Mission and Philosophy

School of Nursing faculty support the mission of the University of North Florida and believe that the mission of the nursing unit reflects the mission of the greater University community.

University of North Florida Mission and Institutional Values

The University of North Florida fosters the intellectual and cultural growth and civic awareness of its students, preparing them to make significant contributions to their communities in the region and beyond. At UNF, students and faculty engage together and individually in the discovery and application of knowledge. UNF faculty and staff maintain an unreserved commitment to student success within a diverse, supportive campus culture.


The University of North Florida is committed to values that promote the welfare and positive transformation of individuals, communities, and societies. We value:

  • the pursuit of truth and knowledge carried out in the spirit of intellectual and artistic freedom;
  • ethical conduct;
  • community engagement;
  • diversity;
  • responsibility to the natural environment; and
  • mutual respect and civility

Brooks College of Health Vision, Mission, and Values


To develop competent and caring health professionals for the 21st century who are diligent in the pursuit of knowledge, make significant contributions to the communities and individuals that they serve, and become leaders of their chosen professions.



To be a leader in the study of health and the preparation of health professionals.



In the fulfillment of our mission, the Brooks College of Health faculty, staff and students value the following:

  • Mutual Respect: We treat everyone in our diverse community with consideration and dignity
  • Service: We provide service to our university, communities and professions.
  • Integrity: We conduct ourselves in an ethical and respectable manner.
  • Accountability: We are responsible for our attitudes and actions.
  • Innovation: We encourage and support creativity.
  • Cooperation: We support a culture characterized by open communications, collaboration and collegiality.
  • Excellence: We promote the highest standard of quality performance.
  • Well-Being: We promote physical, emotional and, social well-being.
  • Fulfillment of Potential: We are committed to development through lifelong learning.

School of Nursing Mission, Vision and Values


To educate nursing students at beginning and advanced levels through excellence and innovation in teaching, scholarship and service.



To be a center for excellence in nursing education; recognized for innovation, scholarship, and service in the preparation of professional nurses who advocate for health and who collaboratively care for individuals, families, communities and populations throughout the life cycle in a variety of settings.



The School fosters a commitment to values, attitudes and ethical dimensions, including integrity, respect, collaboration, cooperation and social justice that are hallmarks of professional nursing. The School is committed to upholding and maintaining both professional nursing standards and a code of ethics for nursing.

School of Nursing Philosophy


The mission of the School of Nursing is further explicated through the School’s philosophical beliefs about the person, the environment, health, nursing, the educational preparation of nurses, and evidence-based nursing practice.



A person may be an individual, a family, a community or a population. The person is defined according to the focus of care.



The environment is a complex web of internal and external conditions that influence the health of individuals, families, and communities.



Health is the optimal fit between the person and the environment and is ultimately defined by the person. Health is a dynamic experience, influenced by internal and external environments, including interactions with the nurse.   



Nurses are healthcare providers who work collaboratively with persons and other individual healthcare providers as well as with agencies and institutions to protect, promote and optimize health. This work takes place within an environment of care that is influenced by biological, personal, social, physical and global forces that are more or less supportive of health.


The process of nursing is collaborative in nature, with the nurse entering into partnership with persons to facilitate the accomplishment of mutually determined goals. The partners share not only in determining goals, but also in joint assessment of progress toward goal achievement and in the responsibility for the outcomes. The person is an active participant in the process, possessing varying levels of knowledge and capability to understand and/or manage health and illness and to actively engage in the process.


In the nurse-person partnership, the nurse integrates knowledge, skills, experience, values, beliefs and attitudes to facilitate mutual decision-making. The partnership is shaped by characteristics of the nurse, the person and the environment. The nurse assists persons to identify and use their strengths and resources, using problem‑solving skills and caring behaviors to facilitate and/or restore an optimal state of health.


Nursing Education

Students and faculty cooperate in assuming a shared responsibility for planning and implementing learning activities within the context of the curriculum. Faculty members are in partnership with students and sensitive to the individual needs of students. Learning readiness, self‑directed learning, recognition of the value of past experience and education, and the development of a problem‑solving orientation to learning are important aspects of the learning process. Learning is facilitated when the educational environment provides an open, accepting atmosphere in which the faculty and students work together to achieve mutual goals.


Professional nursing practice is based on concepts and theories from the discipline of nursing and from other fields. A strong foundation from the natural sciences and the humanities assists nurses in developing the critical thinking skills essential to scientific nursing practice. Professional nurses use the nursing process to assess, analyze, plan, implement and evaluate nursing care. The scientific basis for practice continues to be developed throughout the nursing curriculum and provides the graduate with the knowledge and skills to practice nursing in a responsible manner.


Nursing education, at the baccalaureate level, provides graduates with the first professional degree in nursing. This education prepares the student for professional practice and beginning leadership roles within an ever-changing healthcare industry. It also serves as a foundation for graduate education in nursing.


Graduate nursing education, at the master’s level, prepares nurses with knowledge and skills for advanced nursing practice. Graduates provide expert nursing care to persons; contribute to nursing science; serve as mentors and teachers of nurse colleagues; and participate actively in planning and policy decision-making.


Graduate nursing education, at the doctoral level, prepares advanced practice nurses at the highest professional level of nursing practice. Graduates will advance the application of nursing knowledge through evidence-based practice including practice improvement, innovation and testing of care delivery models, evaluation of health outcomes, health policy, leadership in healthcare delivery and quality improvement, and clinical expertise for advanced nursing education.


Evidence-Based Nursing Practice

Nursing is a discipline that uses research as a process to develop a distinct body of knowledge as a basis for evidence-based practice. Research serves as the basis for changes that influence and improve nursing practice and outcomes of care.


The professional nurse prepared at the baccalaureate level:

  1. collaborates with others to identify and answer questions that arise from the practice of nursing and related issues; and
  2. is an informed consumer of research, able to appraise original research reports, evidence summaries, and clinical practice guidelines for specific practice implications.

    The profession nurse prepared at the master's level:

    1. functions as a collaborative member of research teams; 
    2. evaluates the clinical usefulness of research findings; and
    3. assumes a leadership role in promoting evidence-based practice.

      The professional nurse prepared at the doctoral level leads practice change by the ability to:

      1. develop and test methods to quantify outcomes of care;
      2. develop clinical applications of primary research; and
      3. design evidence-based practice programs for populations.

      School of Nursing Conceptual Framework

      The philosophy of the School of Nursing is further explicated through a conceptual framework. The School of Nursing faculty have identified six core concepts for the nursing curriculum:

      1. collaborative partnership,
      2. professional values,
      3. nursing process,
      4. environment,
      5. cultural competence, and
      6. evidence-based practice.

      Collaborative Partnership

      Collaborative partnership is a philosophical stance encompassing the values, beliefs and attitudes of the nurse that influence shared power and decision-making in all nurse-person encounters (Gottlieb & Feeley, 2006). The nurse enters into an active, caring relationship with the person to identify and pursue mutually agreed-upon goals. This relationship requires active participation by both the nurse and the person to the extent possible given the capabilities of the person. Person participation may range from inactive person and fully active nurse to fully active person and inactive nurse. The optimum balance depends on the health problem or issue, the preference and/or capability of the person at that moment in time, and the situation.


      The aim of nursing education is to prepare students in a systematic way for competent, caring practice based both on clinical knowledge and knowledge of the situation. Clinical knowledge is the theoretical and experiential understanding of people, both as individuals and groups, and how they respond and cope during times of health, vulnerability and illness (Gottlieb & Feeley, 2006). This knowledge also includes understanding the complexities of health and illness, the environment in which healthcare is provided, and the factors that influence the processes and outcomes involved in the collaborative partnership. Situational knowledge comes from getting to know the person who is in the current collaborative partnership. Within this relationship, nursing care is provided to facilitate achievement of optimal physical, social, spiritual and psychological well-being.


      Professional Values

      Professional values are the foundation for nursing practice and provide a framework for working within collaborative partnerships. Core professional values include: 1) altruism: a concern and advocacy for the welfare and well-being of people; 2) autonomy: the right to self-determination; 3) human dignity: respect for the inherent worth and uniqueness of people; 4)  integrity: acting in accordance with an appropriate code of ethics and accepted standards of practice; and 5) social justice: fair treatment of people regardless of socioeconomic status, ethnicity, age, citizenship, state of health or illness, disability or sexual orientation (AACN, 2008). The aim of nursing education is to promote the development and application of professional values and associated caring behaviors within the context of the collaborative partnership.


      Nursing Process

      The nursing process, a critical thinking framework, is collaborative in nature and involves five essential elements: assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation. Assessmentis the systematic gathering of information related to internal and external environments using observation, interview and physical examination as appropriate to the situation. Diagnosis is the identification of the person’s responses to health and illness. A plan of care is developed based on mutually-determined goals and objectives. Interventions are designed and implemented based on these goals as well as the knowledge and expertise of the nurse, and the knowledge, capabilities, and preferences of the person. Interventions include ongoing assessment, direct or indirect care, teaching-learning, counseling, referral and advocacy. Evaluation of outcomes is ongoing and may lead to reaffirmation and/or renegotiation of any of the elements of the process.


      The aim of nursing education is to offer varied learning opportunities in which students develop and/or enhance their knowledge related to health and illness. Critical knowledge and skills for the nursing process include:

      1. communication;
      2. critical thinking;
      3. diagnostic reasoning;
      4. clinical judgment, and
      5. psychomotor skills.


      The environment is a complex web of internal and external conditions that influence the health of individuals, families, and communities. Aspects of the internal environment include the physiological, genetic, developmental, psychological and spiritual makeup that are unique to a particular individual. The external environment is the context within which people live (such as family, neighborhood), work, recreate, and receive health and nursing care. External environmental factors, such as social networks, culture, economic conditions, physical environment and politics influence the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities. Each individual, family, neighborhood and community is situated in a unique set of these conditions that can have negative or positive effects on health and well-being. The role of the nurse is to create, restore, maintain and advocate for caring environments that support health and well-being of individuals, families, communities, and aggregates.


      Students work in multiple environmentsof care to learn about and provide collaborative care including health promotion, disease and illness prevention, and illness care. These environments of care consist ofhomes, schools, churches, workplaces, neighborhoods, communities, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, mental health centers, long-term care facilities, primary and specialty care clinics, hospice, mobile vans, and any setting where nursing care is provided. Within these settings and agencies, students learn about the importance of partnership and have the opportunity to work collaboratively with individuals, families, communities, and interdisciplinary providers. Ahome-base is an environment of care that is unique to the UNF SON undergraduate curriculum, providing students the opportunity to work in one place with a cohort of other students across the curriculum. The continuity of the home-base experience is designed to complement the semester rotations across nursingspecialty areas.


      Cultural Competence

      Cultural competence is a lifelong process of learning that focuses on persons becoming increasingly self-aware and responsive to cultural differences within the context of their environments. Cultural competence requires skills beyond a basic understanding of cultural diversity and ethnicity. Appreciating differences in family and roles, communication, healthcare practices, nutrition, spirituality and death rituals among persons is crucial in creating culturally sensitive environments of care (Purnell & Paulanka, 2005). Nurses care for all persons who comprise varying social mores, world views, languages, literacy skills, socio-economic levels and have the potential to help reduce racial and ethnic disparities across all environments of care (Smedley, Stith, & Nelson, 2002).


      The aim of nursing education is to instill a commitment to cultural competence and to assist students to develop the requisite skill set. Critical skills for the development of cultural competence include:

      1. understanding of self;
      2. integration of cultural knowledge and cultural sensitivity into the nursing process; and
      3. advocating against ethnocentric practices, cultural biases, stereotypes and health disparities.

      Evidence-Based Practice

      Evidence-based practice, a rigorous problem-solving approach to care, provides the nurse with the tools to integrate the most current, best evidence into the plan of care. After identifying a clinical problem or question, the nurse first considers the preferences of the person with whom the nurse is partnering. Other forms of evidence, including practice guidelines, systematic reviews, results of well-designed scientific studies, expert opinions and local data, are appraised for usefulness and appropriateness. The resulting best evidence is then integrated, with person preferences, into the plan of care. As the nurse appraises the evidence, outcome measures are also identified for inclusion in the plan. Using the best evidence enhances the quality of care, optimizes outcomes, and increases the satisfaction of the partners. 


      The aim of nursing education is to assist students in the development of critical appraisal skills for the evaluation of the evidence for clinical usefulness.

      1.3 Academic Advising

      The Graduate Nursing Faculty Advisors provide information to incoming students, advise current students on programs of study, assist students with referrals to other UNF services and advise students on academic or career plans and problems.


      When admitted to the University of North Florida MSN program each student will be assigned a Faculty Advisor. Each student must meet with the Faculty Advisor to review a program of study. The initial program of study must be written and signed by the MSN Coordinator within the first month of enrollment. An approved program of study signed by the Faculty Advisor is required for all nursing students. If there are changes in the program, after the initial meeting, the student must contact the advisor in advance of submitting the withdrawal form, and if the student is unable to enroll in classes during a given semester, the advisor must be notified in writing.

      1.4 Graduate Student Responsibilities

      Students have responsibilities as well as rights.


      Students should assume responsibility for:

      1) Knowledge of the lines of authority and communication in the parent institution and the unit in nursing.


      2) Participation in central councils and committees of the parent institution and the unit in nursing by:


      a) attendance at meetings;

      b) sharing views;

      c) reporting back to constituents;

      d) gathering data and developing rationales for positions taken and requests presented;

      e) representing the total student constituency rather than oneself alone or small interest or pressure groups;

      f) developing channels for receipt of views, grievances; facilitating due process.


      3) Participation in search committees for administrative officers and faculty.


      4) Participation in the establishment and periodic review of admission and graduation policies.


      5) Maintenance of confidentiality where appropriate and indicated.


      6) Development of forums for receipt of ideas and diverse views:


      a) keeping records and minutes of ideas and deliberations;

      b) distributing appropriate and printed materials;

      c) protecting the right of freedom of expression for all.


      7) Participation in curriculum development by:


      a) attending all scheduled meetings;
      b) preparing to make a contribution during the meeting;
      c) sharing ideas, comments, reactions, and suggestions;
      d) polling students for their views, comments, reactions, and suggestions;


       8) Participation in curriculum implementation by:


      a) attending classes;

      b) following through with class and laboratory assignments;

      c) preparing in advance of scheduled classes and laboratory sessions;

      d) maximizing all learning opportunities;

      e) resisting a focus limited to minimal achievement;

      f) sharing learning experiences with peers;

      g) striving constantly to broaden their general education base;

      h) transferring previous learning;

      i) fostering effective relationships with members of the interdisciplinary health team;

      j) abiding by the established policies and procedures;

      k) assuming responsibility for their own learning and development;

      l) seeking out new and different learning experiences;

      m) finding opportunities for decision-making, independent judgment, and self-direction;

      n) operationalizing the philosophy and conceptual framework;

      o) preparing one’s own projects, papers, thesis, and other assignments;

      p) maximizing learning through independent study.


      9) Participation in the evaluation of the curriculum by:


      a) appraising self in relation to stated course, level, and end‑of‑program behavioral expectations;

      b) appraising peers in relation to stated course behavioral expectations;

      c) appraising the environment for learning;

      d) appraising learning resources/ services/facilities regarding quality, suitability, and availability;

      e) completing follow‑up studies


      10) Knowledge of the range of student, professional, scholarly, cultural, social, and religious activities.


      11) Participation in student, professional, scholarly, cultural, social, and religious activities.


      12) Determination of need of seeking out appropriate assistance and follow‑through with payback commitment for financial aid.


      13) Participation in the developing, reading, circulating, evaluating, and revising of institutional and unit services.


      14) Utilization of appropriate advisement and counseling services.


      15) Maintenance of their own records‑completeness, periodic review, initiating changes, following protocol for release, extension and sharing.


      16) Protection of institutional and unit property by:


      a) assuring privacy;

      b) abating noise;

      c) minimizing waste;

      d) disposing of waste and refuse properly;

      e) preventing damage and destruction.


      17) Freedom of access, for adjudication, rights and responsibilities of others.


      18) Enhancement of health and security measures.


      19) Appraisal of existing institutional and unit services to determine suitability, quantity, and quality.


      20) Determination of need for additional institutional and unit services.


      21) Elimination of obsolete services.


      1.5 Graduate Faculty in the Nursing Program


      Irma Ancheta, PhD, RN


      Assistant Professor

      Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases, Women and Heart Disease, Asian American Women, Filipino American Women, Quality of Life, Heart Failure


      Michele Bednarzyk, DNP, ARNP


      Assistant Professor

      MSN Program Director



      Kathaleen C. Bloom, PhD, CNM 



      Adult education, evidence-based practice, women's health

      Gerard Hogan, DNSc, CRNA


      Assistant Professor


      Margaret (Bonnie) Holder, PhD, ARNP


      Assistant Professor

      Quality Safety Education in Nursing  facilitator and trainer-University of North Florida. 


      M. Cathy Hough, PhD, RN


      Associate Professor

      Applied Nursing Ethics, Nursing Management & Leadership, Learning & Instruction - Adult Education, Adult Health & Critical Care Nursing


      Barbara Kruger,PhD, MPH, MS, RN


      Associate Professor



      Carol Ledbetter, PhD, ARNP



      DNP Program Director; Colonel, USAF (RET)

      Higher Education - Program Evaluation; Graduate Education, Accreditation - National; Department of Education, Health - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse; Primary Care, APRN Consensus Model, Research - Human Subjects, Gay & Lesbian Issues, Veterans Health, Pandemics


      Comeaux, Judith


      Assistant Professor



      Li Loriz, PhD, ARNP


      Associate Professor

      Director, School of Nursing

      Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, HIV, Chronic Illness


       Jane McCarthy, PhD, CRNA, FAAN



      Evidence Based Practice, Pulmonary Physiology, Patient Safety, Anesthesia Patient Safety,Malignant Hyperthermia


      John McDonough, EdD, CRNA



      Nurse Anesthesia

      Anesthesiology and pain management

      Jan Meires, EdD, ARNP


      Associate Professor
      Adult and Family Nurse Practitioner, Cardiovascular Clinical Specialist, Health Promotion/Disease Prevention, Education, Research Methods, Evidence Based Practice, Writing for publication

      Patrick Monaghan, PhD, MT, (ASCP). CLS, SBB



      Medical Laboratory Science:  Clinical Research,   Blood Transfusion Practices, Laboratory Measurements, Health Education

      Barbara Olinzock, EdD, RN


      Associate Professor

      Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, Community Health Nursing, Nursing Science and Evidence-based research

      Rehabilitative Nursing

      Doreen Radjenovic, PhD, ARNP


      Associate Professor


      Kathy Robinson, PhD, RN, CCRN


      Associate Professor

      Critical Care Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing, Family Caregiving, Nursing Theory, Clinical pathophysiology,

      Qualitative Methodology

      Connie Roush, PhD, RN


       Assistant  Professor

      Community-based transformational learning, health geography in nursing, families in health and illness, community health promotion, home health nursing practice, qualitative research

      Debi Wagner, PhD, CNM


      Assistant Professor

      Patient Satisfaction; maternity nursing; nurse-midwifery

      1.6 References

      Gottlieb, L.N., & Feeley, N. (2006). The collaborative partnership approach to care: A delicate balance. St. Louis, MO: Mosby.


      Purnell, L.D., & Paulanka, B.J. (2005). Guide to culturally competent health care. Philadelphia: Davis.


      Smedley, B.D., Stith, A.Y., & Nelson, A.R. (Eds). (2002). Unequal treatment: Confronting racial and ethnic disparities in health care. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.