Nursing (NURS) 516

Pharmacotherapeutics and Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners I


Delivery Mode: Paced/home-study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None

Precluded Course: NURS 516 cannot be taken for credit if credit has been obtained for NURS 519 or NURS 521

Faculty: Faculty of Health Disciplines

Centre: Centre for Nursing and Health Studies


NURS 516 is part of a program of study leading to the Post-Master's Diploma: Nurse Practitioner, or the Master of Nursing (Nurse Practitioner) degree. NURS 516 is a prerequisite course for NURS 517, NURS 518, NURS 522, NURS 524, NURS 526, NURS 527, NURS 528, NURS 530 and NURS 531. NURS 516 can be taken as an elective course by other Master of Nursing or Master of Health Studies students and by non-program students.

NURS 516 provides students with an integrated approach to pathophysiology and pharmacology that will support clinical decision making about the diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic presentations commonly managed by nurse practitioners. The course is comprised of eleven units, the first three of which are foundational, covering prescriptive practices, pharmacologic and pathophysiologic principles. The remaining seven units integrate the pathophysiology of body system with the pharmacologic agents used in the management of diseases of those body systems. Using a case-based approach students apply what they have learned to clinical scenarios depicting client presentations that students are likely to encounter in their clinical placements and in their practices as entry-level nurse practitioners.

NURS 516 covers a portion of the body systems with the remainder of the systems addressed in NURS 517. Together these courses provide foundational knowledge of pharmacology and pathophysiology that will be used to support clinical decision making. The content of NURS 516 is supported by other courses in the Nurse Practitioner program that teach management of common acute and chronic diseases of adult men and women, children, and older adults.

Course Goals

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  1. describe the basic principles of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, and how these principles may affect prescribing decisions;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of the selection and use of drugs in the management and treatment of disease, including the application of pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics to client clinical context and the integration of client social context (age, health status, gender, concomitant therapies, cultural beliefs, financial status, etc) to the selection of drugs of choice;
  3. identify and incorporate special considerations when prescribing for specific populations: pregnancy, breastfeeding, older adults, children and infants, and genetic factors;
  4. evaluate and then apply research findings to the development of evidence-based, comprehensive client pharmaceutical plans of care;
  5. evaluate prescribed drug regimens for safety, clinical efficacy and outcomes, in partnership with the client;
  6. identify and incorporate strategies to address potential barriers to regimen adherence into client assessment and education;
  7. integrate knowledge of adverse drug reactions and interactions in safe prescribing and appropriately report adverse drug reactions;
  8. understand professional, ethical and legal considerations and responsibilities when prescribing;
  9. recognize polypharmacy and takes appropriate interventions to optimize therapy; and
  10. summarize the role of interdisciplinary consultation in optimizing drug therapy.
  11. explain pathophysiological processes leading to clinical manifestations of common acute and chronic diseases;
  12. utilize knowledge of pathophysiological processes to inform diagnoses of common acute and chronic diseases;
  13. recognize variations of pathophysiological processes in pediatric and geriatric clients; and
  14. explain factors influencing the incidence and manifestation of diseases in populations.
  15. articulate how pathophysiological processes influence the selection of tests to diagnose common acute and chronic diseases

Course Materials

NURS 516 comprises online content and electronic course materials.

Print Materials

The textbooks listed below are used in this course.

Arcangelo, V.P. & Peterson, A.M. (2017) Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice: A Practical Approach (4th edition). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer 

McCance, K. & Huether, S. (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (8th ed.). St. Louis: Elsevier Mosby.

Additional Recommended Material

Woo T.M. & Robinson M.V. (2016). Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice Nurse Prescribers. (4th ed.). Philadelphia: FA Davis

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, the student 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 Faculty of Health Disciplines technical site.

Students are expected to connect to an Internet Service Provider at their own expense and to secure audio speaker or headphones for the required Clinical Forum events in the course.

Course Outline

NURS 516 consists of the following 11 units:

  • Unit 1: Foundations of Prescriptive Practice
  • Unit 2: Pharmacologic Principles
  • Unit 3: Foundations of Pathophysiology
  • Unit 4: Dermatologic Disorders
  • Unit 5: Cardiovascular Disorders
  • Unit 6: Hematologic Disorders
  • Unit 7: Respiratory Disorders
  • Unit 8: Gastrointestinal Disorders
  • Unit 9: Genitourinary Disorders
  • Unit 10: Renal/Fluids and Electrolytes
  • Unit 11: Consolidation

Assessment Structure

The assessment structure for NURS 516 - Pharmacotherapeutics and Pathophysiology for Nurse Practitioners I is based on the following course activities, with the percentage weighting of each activity as indicated. Your final grade for the course will be a composite mark based on your performance on these course activities.

Unit Tests - 3 Tests (test 1 = 15%; test 2 = 20%; test 3 = 25%) 60%
Case Studies - Case Study 10%
Case Discussion Contributor 10%
Problem Based Learning Group Activity 20%
Synchronous Case Studies (Any 2 out of 4) Pass/Fail
Total 100%

In order to pass NURS 516 you must achieve a minimum mark of 65% on problem based Learning group Activities, a combined mark of 65% on case studies, and a combined mark of 70% on the tests.

Unit Tests
Due Dates: Week 5, Week 10 and Week 13
Value: Test 1 = 15%; Test 2 = 20%; Test 3 = 25%

These are online exams consisting of multiple choice questions based on content from units as follows:

  • Test 1 covers units 1-4, Test 2 covers units 5-7, Test 3 covers units 8-10

The unit tests must be written during the specified time period. Students who do not write the tests during the specified time period will not be allowed to write the test at a later date and will be awarded a mark of zero on the exam.

You must attain combined mark of 70% on the unit tests (see below) in order to receive a passing grade for the course. If an average mark less than 70% is received, there will be no option for writing a supplementary exam (ie, there are no rewrites of unit tests allowed).

Case Studies
Value: 10%

Each student will be assigned one case study during the course (10%), which will be presented on-line. Students are expected to follow a prescribed format in preparing a Powerpoint presentation and will also be expected to moderate an on-line discussion of their case.

Case Discussion Contributor
Value: 10%

Students are expected to contribute to the case study discussions and must post either an scholarly original post or response in every unit.

Problem Based Learning Group Activities
Value: 20%

Over the duration of the course students will be assigned weekly problem-based learning (PBL) discussion forums. Each group will respond to assigned questions and will be responsible for presenting content related to these questions.

Synchronous Case Studies
Value: Pass/Fail

There are five synchronous Clinical Seminars utilizing Adobe Connect will occur over the span of the term to discuss specific clinical cases. Students will be provided with clinical cases prior to each seminar, and will be expected to participate in an instructor-led discussion of the case. Students will be required to attend a minimum of TWO Synchronous Clinical Seminars.

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 1, October 19, 2015