Aug 18, 2022  
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 
Graduate Catalog 2018-2019 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing

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Kathleen B. LaSala, Dean and Professor
Health & Life Sciences Building, Office 115
(540) 678-4374,

Explore the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing on our university website.


To educate lifelong learners who provide holistic care and promote wellness, inspired by global health ideals.

Overview of the Nursing Program

Since the 1960s, Shenandoah University has played an integral part in the education of nurses in the region. This rich tradition continues at the graduate level in nursing. To become educated, learners become involved in intellectual work and critical thinking in order to transform information into knowledge, skills, values, meanings and experiences necessary for the provision, management and coordination of general nursing care for individuals, families, groups and communities at the graduate level. The scholarly habits of learning, established early, increase the graduate’s lifetime ability to contribute to the discipline/profession of nursing and to society. 

The School of Nursing at Shenandoah University has developed an innovative framework for graduate study. Based on knowledge, skills, values, meanings and experiences, it centers on the lived experiences of individuals. Alternative teaching-learning experiences that go “beyond the walls” of the classroom enrich the lived experience of students, faculty, clients and communities.

Students selected for the Graduate Program in Nursing are educated in clinically-based curriculum that facilitates their professional development as expert advanced practitioners capable of providing safe and innovative care for pecialized populations. In addition, MSN and DNP graduates participate in leading the profession during periods of unprecedented demand for nurses capable of advanced practice and clinical management.

Program Accreditation

American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)- Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) Accreditation

The graduate, post-graduate and doctoral degrees in nursing at Shenandoah University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC 20001, 202-887-6791.   

All programs in the School of Nursing are approved by the Virginia Health Regulatory Boards, also known as the:

Virginia Board of Nursing, Perimeter Center , 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300, Henrico Virginia 23233-1463, (804) 367-4515, (804) 527-4455 (Fax), Automated License Verification: (804) 270-6836,

Standards and Competencies

The MSN program addresses AACN’s The Essentials of Master’s Education in Nursing (2011).

The DNP program addresses AACN’s Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice (2006).

The specialty nurse practitioner programs address the core and population-focused nurse practitioner competencies (family, mental health, adult gerontology primary care) set forth by the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties (NONPF) (2013-2017) and core competencies set forth by American College of Nurse-Midwives (ACNM) (2012).

Nursing Policies and Procedures

In addition to policies and procedures of the university as identified in this catalog, nursing students are responsible for reading, understanding and implementing policies and procedures found in the School of Nursing Student Handbook, which enrolled students may access via the university learning management system. Students must meet the Technical Standards for Nursing as described in the School of Nursing Student Handbook and listed below.

Essential Qualifications for Candidates for Admission, Progression and Graduation

Nursing technical standards for admission establish expectations and abilities considered essential for students admitted to the nursing program in order to meet theoretical and clinical course objectives required to achieve the level of competency necessary for graduation and practice of essential functions as a registered nurse. All students admitted to nursing are expected to be able to demonstrate the abilities specified throughout their program of study.

Students must demonstrate the ability to function competently in a variety of clinical situations and to provide a broad spectrum of care. Students who require technological support or other accommodations must be able to perform in a reasonably independent and timely manner that does not affect the quality of care, the safety of patients or other individuals, and in a manner that does not impose undue hardship on the School of Nursing or other members of the health care team.

Use of trained intermediaries to carry out functions described in technical standards is not permitted. A student’s judgment and skills may not be mediated by reliance upon someone else’s power of selection, observation, or clinical ability.

Students must satisfy the following with or without reasonable accommodation, in order to be admitted, progress, and graduate:


  • Must have functional use of the senses of touch, speech, smell, hearing, and vision.
  • Must be able to observe patients to assess their health status accurately, including verbal and nonverbal signals such as facial expressions, gestures, temperature, position, equilibrium, and movement.
  • Must hear and see signals from monitoring equipment.
  • Must be able to elicit, transmit, and record patient data and other information from faculty, classmates, clinicians, and other personnel, and family members using the English language orally and in writing.

Motor Skills

  • Must demonstrate sufficient manual dexterity and other motor skills to execute movements reasonably required to engage in assessment and patient care procedures, including palpation, auscultation, percussion, administration of medication, and emergency interventions such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation, application of pressure to stop bleeding, and suction of obstructed airways.
  • Clinical settings may require the ability to carry and lift loads from the floor, from 12 inches from the floor, to shoulder height and overhead.
  • Must be able to occasionally lift 50 pounds, frequently lift 25 pounds, and constantly lift 10 pounds.
  • Must be able to maintain consciousness and equilibrium and have the physical strength and stamina to perform satisfactorily in clinical settings.
  • Must have the capability to navigate easily and quickly in small spaces in order to execute appropriate care to a patient.
  • Must have the ability, within reasonable limits, to safely assist a patient in moving, for example from a chair to a bed, or from a wheel chair to a commode.
  • Must have a reliable means of transportation in order to travel to educational experiences off campus for clinical experiences.


  • Must be able to measure, calculate, analyze, integrate, and synthesize data accurately and make decisions that reflect consistent and thoughtful deliberation of appropriate data.
  • Must be able to quickly read and comprehend extensive written material.
  • Must be able to evaluate and apply information and engage in critical thinking in the classroom and clinical setting.


  • Must possess interpersonal skills sufficient to communicate effectively with students, patients, families, faculty, colleagues, and other professionals of diverse religious, cultural, or social backgrounds.
  • Must be able to clearly express his or her ideas and feelings and demonstrate a willingness and ability to give and receive feedback.
  • Must be able to convey or exchange information at a level allowing development of a health history, identify problems presented, explain alternative solutions, and give directions during treatment and post treatment.
  • Must be able to process and communicate information on the patient’s status with accuracy in a timely manner to members of the health care team. Appropriate communication may rely on the individual’s ability to make a correct judgment in seeking supervision and consultation in a timely manner.


  • Must possess the emotional health required for the full utilization of his or her intellectual abilities, exercise good judgment, and provide prompt completion of all responsibilities related to the diagnosis and care of patients and families.
  • Must be able to maintain mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, family, other students, faculty, staff and other professionals under all circumstances including stressful situations.
  • Must have the emotional stability to function effectively under stress and able to adapt to an environment that may change rapidly without warning or in unpredictable ways.
  • Must be able to experience and effectively communicate empathy in sharing the situations and experiences of others.
  • Must know that his or her values, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and experiences affect his or her perceptions and relationships with patients, families, and others. The student must be able and willing to examine and change his or her behavior when it interferes with productive individual and/or team relationships.
  • Must possess skills and experience necessary for effective relationships in diverse academic and working environments.

Professional Conduct

  • Must possess the ability to reason morally and practice nursing in an ethical manner.
  • Must be willing to learn and abide by professional standards of practice.
  • Must possess personal qualities that include compassion, empathy, altruism, integrity, honesty, responsibility and tolerance.
  • Must be able to engage in patient care delivery in all settings and to all patient populations regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, disability or any other basis protected by law.

All students must meet the essential requirements of the program as outlined in the Technical Standards for Nursing. Reasonable accommodations will be granted to qualified students with disabilities to the extent the accommodation will enable them to perform the essential functions of the program and will not create an undue hardship – however no accommodations are given that will alter the essential program requirements. Therefore all students must pass all courses at an acceptable level and master all essential clinical competencies as established by the nursing program. Questions regarding the technical standards for nursing should be directed to the Dean of the School of Nursing.

While the nursing program requires students to have essential skills for the program, the program has a duty to accommodate where accommodations can be had, and that accommodation process is based upon an individualized assessment of the applicant/student. Therefore, it is advised that students with disabilities must register with the Office of Learning Resources and Services before any accommodations can be granted to the student. Revealing a disability is voluntary and student disability information is handled in a confidential manner. Reasonable accommodations will be made to comply with the university’s responsibilities to facilitate equal access to university programs, events, activities, and services for students with disabilities according to the legal, ethical, and philosophical principles of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). For any questions regarding disability service, please contact the Director of Learning Resources and Services (

For further information contact

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The Graduate Program in Nursing offers several options to obtain an MSN or Post Graduate Certificate in the following advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) roles: Nurse-Midwifery (NM), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) and Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP). The MSN is offered to qualified applicants with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and an RN license in the United States. An RN-MSN degree option is available for qualified applicants with an Associate of Science degree in Nursing (ASN) or a Diploma in Nursing and a RN license.* In addition, a post graduate certificate in NW and PMHNP is available to qualified applicants who are current MSN students in a university participating in either the SU Midwifery Initiative or PMHNP Initiative program. 

Master of Science Program Outcomes:

  • Synthesize knowledge associated with the advanced nursing practice and advancement of nursing.
  • Demonstrate skill in the delivery, management, and leadership of advanced nursing practice.
  • Demonstrate values consistent with the ethical delivery of advanced practice nursing.
  • Exemplify unique meanings associated with advanced practice nursing and the profession.
  • Actively and intellectually engage in advanced nursing and health care delivery for specialized populations. 

*For graduates wishing to practice in states requiring a bachelor’s degree in addition to the MSN, a BSN option is available.

Doctor of Nursing Practice

The Graduate Program in Nursing offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree for FNP, AGPCNP and PMHNP advanced practice specialties. A Doctor of Nursing Practice degree (BSN-DNP or Post Graduate DNP) prepares the nurse with the necessary skills and knowledge to assume the roles in advance practice leadership in a variety of settings. Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates are educated to become leaders in the health care arena and prepared to deliver quality health care.

BSN-DNP graduates are prepared to practice as an FNP, AGPCNP or PMHNP and are eligible to take the FNP, AGPCNP or PMHNP certification exams. 

Application Process for the Graduate Program

Priority Application Guidelines:

The graduate nursing programs admit for the Fall semester only. Priority consideration for Fall admission is April 15. 

Summer admission is available to PMHNP Initiative students and Graduate Certificate - PMH by prior arrangement..

General Information

Application Process

All students must complete the Shenandoah University Graduate Application and the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing Supplemental Application Packet. The following are requirements for admission:

  1. Applicant must be a licensed registered nurse in the United States. Applicants not licensed in Virginia must apply and receive licensure by endorsement unless the applicant is licensed in a compact state with multi-state privilege. Applicants must have a minimum undergraduate cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants to the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Post Graduate Certificate programs must have a minimum graduate cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  2. Submit three recommendations (Post Graduate Certificate applicants submit two recommendations). One recommendation is to be from a former dean, faculty member or advisor familiar with the applicant’s academic performance, one from a current or former supervisor familiar with the applicant’s clinical practice and one may be another nurse with at least a baccalaureate degree, who can address the applicant’s ability for graduate school performance. If the applicant cannot submit a nursing faculty member recommendation, one may be submitted from an additional nursing service supervisor.
  3. All applicants must submit an essay. DNP applicants must also submit an additional one page essay on a proposed clinical research project..
  4. DNP and MSN applicants must have earned a B.S. in Nursing degree from an ACEN, NLNAC or CCNE-accredited program. RN-MSN applicants must have earned an ASN or diploma in nursing from an ACEN, NLNAC or regionally accredited program. Post Graduate Certificate applicants must have earned a MSN degree from an ACEN, NLNAC or CCNE-accredited program. If the degree is not from an ACEN, NLNAC or a CCNE-accredited program, the applicant is evaluated on an individual basis.
  5. FNP, PMHNP, AGPCNP and NM MSN and Post Graduate Certificate applicants must have a minimum of one year (2,080 hours) clinical nursing experience (or equivalent) within the preceding five- year period before entering the APRN specialty clinical courses. These are generally offered in the second year; therefore, the first year courses may be taken while the student is accumulating clinical nursing experience. Equivalency of clinical nursing experience is determined by the School of Nursing. Students requesting consideration of equivalency should do so in writing and provide rationale for this request.
  6. Applicants to the Post Graduate Certificate PMHNP who hold a PMHCNS must present transcript evidence of a minimum of 320 supervised clinical hours in Psychiatric Mental Health graduate level coursework.
  7. MSN and BSN to DNP applicants must demonstrate successful completion of baccalaureate-level nursing courses in physical assessment, introductory statistics, and community nursing with a grade of “C” or better. Applicants missing one or more of these courses may be admitted provisionally and are allowed to complete any missing prerequisites within the first year of study, or challenge the Community Nursing and Physical Assessment requirements via NLN exams.
  8. Post Graduate NP or NM Certificate applicants must provide evidence of successful completion of a MSN degree as well as graduate level physical assessment, pharmacology,and pathophysiology courses with a grade of “B” or better within the past five years. Applicants may be offered provisional acceptance moving to full acceptance upon completion of advanced physical assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology courses with a grade of “B” or better.
  9. RN-MSN applicants must demonstrate successful completion of all prerequisite courses prior to admission.
  10. Advanced Practice Nurses (APRNs) who are applying for the Post Graduate DNP must hold appropriate national certification no later than December 31st of the year starting the program. Students who do not pass the certification exam by December 31st will be withdrawn from the program.
  11. Advanced Practice Nurses (APRNs) who are applying for the Post Graduate DNP must provide evidence of successful completion of MSN courses in advanced physical assessment, pharmacology, and pathophysiology.
  12. Qualified graduate program applicants may be invited for a personal interview with the School of Nursing graduate faculty.
  13. Applicants who have been dismissed from any graduate program of nursing are not eligible for admission or readmission to the Shenandoah University School of Nursing.
  14. Upon acceptance to the graduate program, an applicant can defer admission only one time. Deferral after one year requires a new application.
  15. International applicants for graduate nursing programs must follow the guidelines for Non-Native English Speaking (NNES) graduate students as detailed in the graduate catalog under Admission of International Students.
    All international students applying to be considered for a graduate degree in nursing must hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing and be currently licensed as a Registered Nurse within the United States. If not already licensed in the U.S., due to clinical experiences required in the graduate program, applicants must take the NCLEX in a compact state or apply for reciprocity in Virginia prior to entering the program. For more licensure information, please see the website Applicants for licensure in Virginia may be required to have their international transcripts evaluated, course-by-course, by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS).
    All international applicants and all applicants whose first language is not English must submit official copies of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants should request official scores be sent to the Shenandoah University (SU) Graduate Admissions office; the SU code is 5613. More information about TOEFL can be found at The date of taking the TOEFL should not be more than 12 months prior to the date of enrollment. The minimum score acceptable for admission to the School of Nursing is 83 or higher for the Internet-based TOEFL. NOTE: applicants with successful completion of a higher education degree in the U.S. may not be required to take the TOEFL. Please consult with the Office of Admissions.

Academic Progression

For SON graduate academic progression policies please refer to School of Nursing Student Handbook and the School of Nursing DNP Handbook.

Course Credit as a Visiting Student

No more than six credits of graduate course work as a Visiting Student may be applied toward the graduate degree. Visiting students must be eligible for admission and may enroll only as space is available.

Graduate Courses for Transfer Credit

Graduate applicants may transfer up to 12 semester hours of equivalent courses into the graduate program. Post Graduate Certificate and Post Graduate Doctor of Nursing Practice applicants may transfer up to six credit hours into the graduate program. Courses for transfer credit are evaluated on an individual basis.

Graduate Degree Completion

Once admitted, students must complete degree requirements within the following timeframes:

MSN 5 years
RN-MSN 6 years
BSN-DNP 6 years
Post Graduate DNP 4 years

Graduate Student Computer Requirements

For current technology requirements please click on the links below: and

It is recommended that graduate nursing students have access to a reliable, stable and efficient high-speed Internet connection at a place where they study and prepare assignments. Learning assignments often include materials and learning content that must be accessed on SU Web-based platforms and Internet sites. The student must have the capability to transfer large files of data and learning materials. This is not easily possible with a dial-up Internet connection.

For more information on use of technology, please see the School of Nursing Student Handbook.

Licensure Considerations

Students and graduates are subject to the current Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Nursing Statutes regarding legal limitations of licensure and professional advanced practice.

Students who have been convicted of a felony, or who may have had previous experiences that would interfere with their ability to practice advanced nursing, are responsible for informing the Dean of the School of Nursing and for contacting the Board of Nursing regarding their ability to practice. Criminal background checks are required of all accepted nursing students prior to enrollment in classes.


The School of Nursing program tries to limit student expenses. However, there are fees and expenses associated with texts, lab coats/uniforms, campus learning laboratory equipment, travel, required clinical and classroom experiences, standardized tests, copying, clinical fees, criminal background check, urine drug screening and malpractice insurance that are the students’ responsibility.

Students accepted into the graduate program must:

  • Carry and maintain professional liability insurance to the maximum litigation potential allowed by the state in which clinicals are being held. Insurance must be held for the entire duration of all clinical courses. Students will be billed by the university and are automatically enrolled in a liability insurance policy.
  • Complete and maintain a Shenandoah University Health Form. Student immunization requirement information may be found on the university website. and click on Health and Insurance Requirements.
  • Complete and maintain a criminal background check according to current university and clinical site requirements.
  • Complete and maintain a urine drug screening according to current university and clinical site requirements.

MSN and BSN-DNP Required Core Courses in the Graduate Program in Nursing

* Curriculum currently under revision (Fall 2018)

Course Title Credits NM FNP AGNP PMHNP
N 506   Data Analysis and Interpretation I   3 3 3 3
N 512   Theory, Research and Reasoning I   3 3 3 3
N 521   Theory, Research and Reasoning II   3 3 3 3
N 532   Roles and Issues in Advanced Practice   3 3 3 3
N 550   Advanced Pharmacology and Therapeutics   3 3 3 3
N 560   Advanced Concepts in Physiology and Pathophysiology   3 3 3 3
N 580   Advanced Health Promotion and Assessment Across the Lifespan   4 4 4 4
  Total Core Credits   22 22 22 22


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