Nursing (NURS) 528

NP: Older Adult Health


Revision 9 is closed for registrations, see current revision

Delivery Mode: Paced/home-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: NURS 519 and NURS 521 or NURS 516 and NURS 517, NURS 518, NURS 526, NURS 610, NURS 614

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies


Nursing 528: NP: Older Adult Health is part of a program of study leading to a Post-Masters Diploma: Nurse Practitioner or the Master of Nursing Degree.

In Nurse 528, students study the Primary Health Care principle of Accessibility, the Community Health Development principle of Public Policy, and the Nurse Practitioner Competency of Leadership.

Students learn to provide primary health care, including clinical services, to older adults. Students study wellness counseling of healthy older adults, management of their acute and chronic conditions, and referral of conditions requiring management by other health professionals. Students consider health promotion and illness prevention at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels. Students examine special considerations and issues in the care of older adults, and how health policy influences the health of older adults.

Clinical Practicum

Students complete a minimum of 140 hours of clinical practice focusing on the health of older adults (>60 years of age). You are required to have a successful clinical evaluation in order to achieve a passing grade; additional hours over and above 140 may be required in order to achieve course objectives. You are encouraged to use the clinical hours in NURS 528 to focus on the care of older adults. By the end of NURS 530 you must have logged a total of at least 100 hours of clinical practice in the care of older adults.

Course Goals

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  1. critically analyze the primary care principle of healthy public policy, the community development principle of accessibility, and the NP competency of leadership, and discuss how these influence the health of individuals, families, communities;
  2. understand how public policy affects vulnerable groups including health and health outcomes;
  3. review the determinants of health and how healthy public policy affects the determinants of health and community functioning;
  4. identify strategies that can be used to influence the creation of healthy public policies, including policy design, political activity and research in the policy process;
  5. identify strategies for assessing accessibility issues within their health region;
  6. review which populations may have reduced access to primary care based on location, ethnicity, income, health literacy, language and lifestyle;
  7. explore the qualities and domains of leadership as they apply to the nurse practitioner role, including change agent, leading oneself, leading others, policies and politics, teambuilding and partnerships and alliances;
  8. identify and utilize current recommendations for preventative screening in the older adult;
  9. synthesize the assessment of relevant functional health patterns including fall risk, driving ability, dementia screening, sensory function, mental health and substance abuse screening into the care plan;
  10. provide evidence-based clinical services to well older adults and to those presenting with acute and chronic health concerns, at a level appropriate to a beginning practitioner, including:
    1. health history and physical examination
    2. clinical diagnoses, and decision-making
    3. ordering of laboratory and diagnostic tests
    4. prescription of medications and treatments
    5. administering treatments or procedures
    6. therapeutic communication
    7. collaborative relationships;
    8. documentation of clinical data, diagnoses, collaborations, communications and treatments, monitoring and follow-up.
  11. refer older adults with health concerns that exceed the scope of practice of a beginning practitioner to other health professionals or other appropriate resources;
  12. demonstrate integration of medical and nursing management of health concerns of older adults;
  13. articulate, promote and practice, evidence-based primary, secondary and tertiary health promotion and illness prevention strategies along the health-illness continuum;
  14. identify and explore issues particular to geriatric care including life transitions, caregiving roles, elder abuse, frailty, end of life issues, long term care, iatrogenesis, poverty and isolation, pharmacodynamics and polypharmacy, geriatric emergencies, and health education and health literacy;
  15. appreciate the social and cultural values of older adults in Canada in a way that promotes culturally sensitive care to this cohort;
  16. utilize clinical practice guidelines and review reputable Internet-based sources of information about evidence-based health care with older adults.

Course Materials

NURS 528 comprises online and print-based course materials.

Online Materials

  • Introduction: Provides essential information about the course materials, the design of the course, and the procedures you should follow to complete the course successfully.
  • Schedule: Outlines the timing of course activities.
  • Units: There are seven units in this course. Resource lists of required reading, websites and citations are integrated into the Units.
  • Assessment: Outlines the assignments/evaluation procedures of the course.

Print Materials

The following textbook is used in this course.

Ham, R., Sloane, P., Warshaw, G., Potter, J., & Flaherty, E. (2014). Ham’s primary care geriatrics: A case-based approach. (6th ed.). Philadelphia: Elsevier Saunders.

Other Materials

Textbooks and readings from other Nurse Practitioner Practice courses will be used as appropriate. A list of optional additional reference texts is included.

Course Structure

In this course, you will access health-related websites worldwide. You will also participate in email and computer conferencing with other students. Students are expected to connect to an Internet Service Provider at their own expense.

Technical Requirements

Computer System

In order to successfully complete this course, you must own or have ready access to certain computer hardware and software programs. For complete and up-to-date information on the minimum computer requirements required to complete the graduate nursing courses, visit the Centre for Nursing and Health Studies technical site.

Course Outline

NURS 528 consists of the following 7 units:

Unit 1: Nurse Practitioner Practice and Healthy Public Policy
Unit 1 provides an exploration of the history and development of healthy public policy in Canada. The impact of public policy on the health of individuals, families, communities and vulnerable groups is explored. The role of nursing in the creation of healthy public policy is reviewed and the benefits of incorporating critical social theory in policy development are also discussed.

Unit 2: Nurse Practitioner Practice and the Well Older Adult
This unit is comprised of two parts. The first part of the unit discusses primary prevention and health promotion for the well older adult. Normal aging is reviewed in both physiological terms and from a functional health pattern perspective. Part two of this unit focuses on secondary prevention by reviewing evidence-based screening recommendations for the older adult. This is an in-depth review of the guidelines.

Unit 3: Secondary Prevention, Health Promotion and Episodic Care of Older Adults with Acute Presentations
In Unit 3, secondary prevention and health promotion are reviewed in regards to common acute illnesses in the older adult. Students will learn to diagnosis, order diagnostic tests and prescribe treatment for common acute illness in the older adult.

Unit 4: Tertiary Prevention, Health Promotion and Primary Care of Older Adults with chronic Presentations
Unit 4 studies tertiary prevention and health promotion in regards to common chronic diseases in the older adult. Students will learn to diagnose and manage these chronic diseases in the primary care setting.

Unit 5: Special Considerations in the Care of Older Adults
This unit differs from the clinical, preventative and curative focus of the previous units and focuses, instead on issues pertinent to the care component of Nurse Practitioner practice. Several issues are discussed including end of life, polypharmacy, frailty, elder abuse and caregiver stress. The student will gain a holistic perspective of the issues in this life-stage.

Unit 6: Primary Health Care and Nurse Practitioners: Accessibility
In this unit the student will define accessibility and examine accessibility and its impact on health, especially the health of older adults. Special consideration is given to health literacy, sexual orientation, language, racial inequality, and the social determinants of health.

Unit 7: Nurse Practitioner Competencies: Leadership
In this final unit, students study the many facets of leadership in Nurse Practitioner Practice. Topics include political action, advocacy, promoting the NP role, being a change agent, leadership in an NP-led clinic, and teambuilding.

Assessment Structure

The assessment structure for NURS 528 is based on the following course activities, with the percentage weighting of each activity as indicated. The final grade for the course is a composite mark based on your performance on these course activities.

Conference Participation 10%
Exam 1 25%
Assignment 1: Scholarly Paper 20%
Assignment 2: Older Adult Health: A Case Study 20%
Exam 2 25%
Total 100%
ALSO: Clinical Practicum Pass/Fail

In order to pass NURS 528, you must achieve a minimum mark of 65% (6.5/10) on conference participation, a minimum combined mark of 65% (26/40) on the written assignments, and a minimum combined mark of 70% (35/50) on the exams.

In addition to these activities, you must receive a satisfactory evaluation of the clinical practicum.

If the minimum mark is not achieved on any element of the assessment structure (conference participation, written assignments, exams or clinical practicum), then a failing grade will be assigned for NURS 528. If the student re-registers in NURS 528, then all elements of the course must be repeated (conference participation, written assignments, examinations and clinical practicum).

Conference Participation (10%)

Feedback regarding conference participation will be ongoing. Quality of input (not quantity) is the goal. Feedback will focus on the student's ability to provide organized and original contributions that reflect analysis and synthesis of the material presented.

Participation Criteria

Participation will be measured against the following criteria:

  1. Complete online contributions during the unit conference timeframe.
  2. Respond to online discussions at least twice each week.
  3. Contribute original thoughts or ideas to online discussions.
  4. Cite relevant resources to validate points made.
  5. Demonstrate openness to divergent points of view.
  6. Be respectful of the perceptions of others.
  7. Integrate material from previous units to formulate ideas and generate dialogue.
  8. Present responses that follow the rules of grammar and spelling in the online contributions.

Assignment 1: Scholarly paper (20%)

Assignment 1 is a scholarly paper which allows students to identify and discuss a health issue affecting older adults in their community. The student will then identify a health policy (local, municipal, provincial, or federal) and discuss its relevance to the health issue.

Assignment 2: Older Adult Health: A Case Study (20%)

In Assignment 2, students analyze case studies that present an older adult health concerns appropriate for a nurse practitioner to assess, treat, and follow up.

Exam 1 (25%)

Exam 1 consists of multiple-choice questions.

Exam 2 (25%)

Exam 2 consists of multiple-choice questions.

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.