Biological sciences and the nursing curriculum: a challenge for educationalists


  • Philippa H Trnobranski BSc RGN RHV Cert Ed

    Corresponding author
    1. Nurse Lecturer, North Staffordshire College of Nursing and Midwifery, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England
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Philippa H Trnobranski 39 Kentmere Place, Clayton Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire ST5 3QL, England


In recent years there has been considerable emphasis on the social and behavioural sciences in the nursing curriculum, with a corresponding tendency to devalue the role of the biological sciences This paper argues the case for the biological sciences as being essential to the development of ‘intelligent practitioners’ and the progress of nursing The notion of ‘intelligent practice’ is discussed against the background of a historical perspective which seeks to present a brief comparison of the traditional expectations of nursing practice with those for practice in the future It is suggested that the application to nursing practice of relevant knowledge from the biological sciences is central to skilful practice and a ‘caring’ philosophy Without such knowledge, nurses are unable to deliver safe, high-quality care and, in addition,‘handmaiden status’ is perpetuated In the past, the biological science component of the nursing curriculum was derived from medicine and the biomedical model its teaching was, largely, inadequate and ineffective If knowledge of biological science is crucial to ‘intelligent practice’ then there is an urgent need to review how this knowledge is structured and taught in the nursing curriculum The conceptual model of ‘bionursing’ is suggested as a possible framework for developing a new approach to the structuring and teaching of biological sciences in the curriculum Finally, consideration of biological sciences as an educational task, and the challenge of implementing a coherent, structured curriculum, are addressed