School of Nursing Conceptual Framework

Synergy Model

The curriculum flows logically from the conceptual framework originally developed by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN). The Synergy Model suggests that patient outcomes are enhanced when the nurses' competencies are compatible with the characteristics or needs of the patient.

When applied in the educational system, the center of attention for the model is the students and their learning. In the academic environment, developmental needs of the students are advanced when faculty competencies are aligned with the learning needs of nursing students. The competencies of the nurse identified in the model are those the faculty envisions as essential to the success of the nurses' interventions. Underlying all of the nurses' competencies is the unique contribution of nurses to provide "safe passage" for patients and their families through the health care environment.

According to Curly (1998), these competencies are:

  • Clinical judgment - clinical reasoning that underpins decision-making in clinical practice, includes the assessment of given patient care situations and nursing skill.
  • Advocacy and moral agency - representing the interests of the "other" and identifying and working to manage or explain ethical and clinical concerns. This dimension acknowledges the unique trust inherent in the nurse-patient relationship.
  • Caring practices - constellation of nursing activities that are responsive to the uniqueness of the patient, family, group and community and create a therapeutic environment. Caring practices include vigilance, engagement and responsiveness.
  • Facilitation of learning - ability to use self to maximize patients' learning.
  • Collaboration - working with others to promote and encourage each person's contribution to achieving optimal goals for the patient. This includes intradisciplinary and interdisciplinary work.
  • Systems thinking - appreciating the care environment and the interrelationships within and across health care systems.
  • Response to diversity - sensitive to recognize, appreciate and incorporate differences between and among people along multiple dimensions in the provision of care.
  • Clinical inquiry - process of questioning and evaluating practice, assessing evidence base of practice, and innovating through research and learning.