Nursing (NURS) 438

Trends and Issues in Nursing and Health Systems (Revision 6)

Revision 6 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: NURS 328

Precluded Course: NURS 438 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for NURS 489.

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies

NURS 438 is not available for Challenge.

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*Note: Follow directions on the [Undergraduate Course Registration] form to register in the course. Online course materials cannot be accessed prior to your course contract start date.


Nursing 438: Trends and Issues in Nursing and Health Systems introduces students to the position of nursing in the Canadian health care system. Perspectives to be explored include social, political, organizational, and legal/ethical factors. The continuing debate about the essence of nursing including professional issues is examined. The politics of health is discussed within the context of the Canadian health care system. Current issues are critically analyzed in relation to their influence on the nursing profession and nursing practice.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of NURS 438, the student will achieve or exceed the following learning outcomes:

  • Articulate the relationship between one’s personal values, beliefs and assumptions and one’s professional nursing practice;
  • Discuss possibilities resulting from positioning oneself to be open to new ideas;
  • Articulate and analyze current nursing and health care trends and issues;
  • Articulate and analyze societal change and resulting challenges for nursing practice;
  • Discuss appropriate resolution strategies for selected issues;
  • Demonstrate understanding of ethical and legal issues in nursing practice;
  • Demonstrate understanding of the major nursing organizations and their interrelated roles in regulating Canadian nursing;
  • Discuss the relationship between nursing education and professional nursing practice; and
  • Analyze nursing workplace environments for current trends and issues.

Course Structure

  • Unit 1: Identifying Personal Values, Beliefs and Attitudes
  • Unit 2: Articulating and Analyzing Current Nursing and Health Care System Trends and Issues
  • Unit 3: Identifying Appropriate Issue Resolution Strategies
  • Unit 4: Ethical and Legal Issues in Nursing Practice
  • Unit 5: Nursing Education
  • Unit 6: Professional Nursing Organizations
  • Unit 7: Nursing Workplace Environments
  • Unit 8: Interpersonal Violence


To receive credit for NURS 438, students must complete and submit all of the required assignments and achieve an overall composite grade of “C-” (60%). Effective January 1, 2010, all papers submitted must follow the guidelines of the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) (2010). The assignments and weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Media Analysis Scholarly Paper A Scholarly Paper B Total
20% 40% 40% 100%

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


McIntyre, M. & McDonald, C. (2013). Realities of Canadian nursing: Professional, practice and power issues (4rd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer and Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Other Materials

A variety of electronic journals and websites are used in the course and paper copies are not included in the course package.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 6, November 29, 2013.

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