Nursing Education Trends: Trends in Education Within the Last 50 Years

1950s-2000s: Educational trends have changed in the last 50 years. It was traditional in the past that every university, college, and even faculty chose independently what the students needed to know. The accreditation of the students also depended on the particular teacher and faculty, which often lead to subjective evaluation of student’s knowledge.

There was a strict hierarchical system in the institutions, that supposed that the teacher is the only active participant of the learning process, while the students remain passive and learn from lectures. Students were not actively involved in the educational process. In addition, lack of technological possibilities in educational institutions did not allow students to implement their knowledge in practice, reduced the number of sources from which they could take new information, and made the authority of teacher the most credible source of information (Tanner, 2007).

2000s-2015: According to the recent research, the curriculum has become more student-centered and this innovation has seriously improved the learning experience of the students. The teaching strategies changed from impersonal lecturing to a more individual approach. Nowadays there are general educational programs for universities and colleges of the country. As the result, all students of the same profession learn the same things regardless the place of their studying (Scheckel, 2008). Accreditation is also more objective comparing to the situation that used to be 50 years ago. The personal attitude of the professor to the particular student does not matter, because the examination is usually passed in the form of testing. Educational roles also changed for the better. With the popularization of technologies students have the possibility to find the needed information without problems, the teacher is not the only source of wisdom now. In addition, student’s participation during lessons is encouraged, and now the teacher is passive and the student is active (Scheckel, 2008).

2015: All these aspects can be applied in nursing education. To start with, the level of education raised significantly due to the following reasons.

  • Technology: Technological progress allowed students to practice with the medical devices they will work with after graduation. In addition, they have an access to the most urgent research in the nursing subject, which is important as the medical progress continues to grow (Scheckel & Ironside, 2006).

  • Educator role and teaching strategies: Active participation in the class and individual approach to every student gives teachers the possibility to understand whether the student has enough theoretical basis for future work. The focus on individual approach and the student-centered education helps the nursing students improve their understanding of future work, that is also patient-centered. It helps them to understand that there can not be education only for the sake of giving information, just like there can not be nursing only for the sake of mechanic actions. In the process of education a teacher should know that his/her students learn, and a nurse should be sure that all his/her actions help the patients to overcome illnesses (Scheckel & Ironside, 2006).

  • Regulatory/accreditation issues: The regulation of the professional level significantly improved during the last 50 years. The students need to pass state accreditation in nursing and get certificates in order to find work in future. It guarantees that the nurse is objectively prepared to be responsible for someone’s life and health (Scheckel & Ironside, 2006).

Future Trends in Education

2015-2040: It is possible to assume that in future the technological progress will take more responsibilities from the teacher, who will become not the source of knowledge, but the curator of the educational process. The student-centered model of teaching might remain, but there might be more practice in the learning process than it is now. The accreditation might consist of several levels in order to be reassured in the professional competence of a person.

I do not expect to see so many degree and mobility programs in nursing in 2040. It is evident that not all students need a PhD in nursing and prefer to be practicians rather than scientists. However, there might be one level of university accreditation that might provide equal education of high quality to all nurses.

In my opinion, the simulation method in nursing education does not receive required attention nowadays. There are no technological possibilities to construct credible clinical situations that might arise in the nursing practice. However, with the technological development this trend might evolve to the required level.


There is an assumption that professional level and academic success of nursing students depends directly from their curriculum in the educational institution. All of the discussed trends in the nursing education improve the professional level of students, give them a possibility to implement their knowledge in practice, form their patient-centered professional assumptions. Obligatory accreditation of nurses is also a step towards more professional approach to patient care.

The role of the nurse educator shifts from being the only source of information to the instructor, who shows the direction of development and controls the educational activity of students. The student-centered strategy and the opportunity for individual student’s research lead to such consequences. In future the situation might become even more evident because of the technological progress and its implementation into the learning process. However, it does not seem possible to study without the guide of a professional educator, because even the most detailed tests, accreditations, and technologies can not consider all individual characteristics of a particular student.


Scheckel, M. (2008). Selecting learning experiences to achieve curriculum outcomes. In D. M. Billings & J. A. Halstead (Eds.), Teaching in nursing: A guide for faculty (3rd ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders, pp. 154–172. New York: Macmillan.

Scheckel, M. M., & Ironside, P. M. (2006). Cultivating interpretive thinking through enacting narrative pedagogy. Nursing Outlook, 54, 159–165.

Tanner, C. A. (2007). Editorial. The curriculum revolution revisited. Journal of Nursing Education, 46(2), 51–52.

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