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Loyola University Chicago

Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

Mission Statements, Philosophy and Beliefs

Educational Mission Statement

The mission of the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing (SON) is to prepare baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral level nurses, professional dietitians, entry-level fitness professionals and health system managers who enhance the health of persons within communities and the larger global environment. The SON is an integral part of “Chicago’s Jesuit, Catholic University—a diverse community seeking God in all things and working to expand knowledge in the service of humanity through learning, justice and faith.”1 In concert with the Jesuit Catholic educational mission of the university, the SON stresses excellence in teaching, research, service, and practice.

Philosophy Statement


The SON is an integral part of Loyola University Chicago. Consistent with the university’s educational mission, the SON community strives to embody the Jesuit ideal of living and caring for others. The SON offers curricula leading to baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing, a master’s degree and internship in dietetics through its food and nutrition programs, a baccalaureate degree in exercise science and a baccalaureate degree in health systems management. The following statements reflect core beliefs about nursing, nursing education, dietetics, and health systems management. These beliefs are expanded upon in the conceptual definitions.

Beliefs About Nursing

Nursing is both a scientific discipline and a profession. The purpose of the discipline is to develop and disseminate knowledge about foci of concern to nursing: persons, communities, environment, and health. Professional nursing is the practice of a scientific discipline that directly benefits society through decreasing disparities, caring for the sick, promoting health, engaging in scientific inquiry, and, ultimately, enhancing the quality of life. The discipline of nursing is grounded in values and ethics. It also reflects advances in disciplinary and technological knowledge in an ever-expanding, multicultural society. Faculty believe that persons are created by God and have the right to live and die with dignity, to be accepted for their individual inherent worth, to be responsible for decisions about their lives, and to benefit justly from the world’s wealth of resources.

Beliefs About Nursing Education

Professional nursing education is conceptually based and evolves from a spirit of inquiry and search for truth. The SON, as an urban institution, benefits from Chicago’s exceptional cultural, economic, and human resources, and faculty believe that the use of these resources strengthens the educational experience of our students. The SON has a long-standing commitment to the health of diverse populations in our urban setting and works to solve existing health problems. This includes decreasing health disparity and promoting optimal health. Faculty believe that experiences in community-focused practice and research enhance achievement of program goals. Faculty believe they are educating students to be caregivers, managers, leaders, advocates, educators, and scholars. While faculty are committed to appreciating the uniqueness of each student and accommodating their learning needs, students are expected to assume responsibility for their learning. The individual life experiences that each student brings to the program will influence the way that each develops their own practice of nursing. The undergraduate curricula emphasize levels of prevention, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, cultural competence, ethics, scholarly inquiry, spirituality, and therapeutic interventions.

Beliefs About Dietetics

The practice of dietetics promotes optimal health and quality of life through the application of the science of nutrition. The practice of dietetics is applied to persons, communities, and organizational systems in a variety of environments, stages of life, and conditions of health. Competent dietetic practice, based upon application of the science of nutrition in concert with principles from the biological and psychosocial sciences, requires leadership, management, lifelong learning, and scientific inquiry through effective communication and collaboration.

Beliefs About Dietetics Education

To respond to the needs of society, dietetic students must be prepared for ongoing professional development. To this end, the faculty provide an educational environment that stimulates critical thinking, promotes ethical values, and develops adaptability to dynamic practice environments.

Beliefs About Health Systems Management

The complexity of the United States health care industry demands leadership that is focused on the needs of all citizens. Health care leaders are responsible for creating, providing and evaluating health care activities. Effective leaders understand the need for making high quality, accessible health care services available to an increasingly multi-cultural society and to all people regardless of ability to pay.   Competent leaders in health care employ management and leadership theories to manage the financial, technological, and human resources required to assure high quality care to all. This discipline is grounded in values, spirituality, and ethics, and those employed in this discipline demonstrate the ability to adapt to an ever-changing health care environment.

Beliefs About Health Systems Management Education

The MNSON faculty believes an education in Health Systems Management must be rooted in ethics, spirituality, and values, with a solid commitment to the health care needs of all people including underserved populations. The curriculum is conceptually based on the framework of cost, quality, and access. The broad-based curriculum incorporates experiential learning activities, scholarly inquiry, business fundamentals, and exploration of the policies and practices that contribute to and can ameliorate health care disparities. The Chicago area provides students with a wide range of service-learning and internship opportunities that support the development of ethical and values-based leadership skills in keeping with the Jesuit tradition

While the faculty are committed to appreciating the uniqueness of each student and accommodating individual learning needs, students are expected to assume responsibility for their learning. The individual life experiences that each student brings to the program will influence the way each student develops his/her own management style. The undergraduate curriculum emphasizes:

Beliefs About Exercise Science

The practice of Exercise Science promotes the health of individuals and groups through the application of the science of human movement, rehabilitation, and nutrition, in a variety of settings, such as fitness centers, outpatient, acute care, and rehabilitation settings.  Competent exercise science practice integrates principles from the biological and social sciences, evidence based practice, leadership, ethics, and collaboration in the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of exercise programs for the promotion of health and wellness.

Beliefs About Exercise Science Education

Exercise Science education involves the study of the complexities of human movement and exercise induced physiological and psychological responses, built on a solid foundation from the biological and social sciences and a broad based liberal arts education. Competencies for the beginning exercise science profession include exercise assessment, nutritional principles related to exercise and sport, interpersonal relationship management, exercise prescription and programming, prevention and treatment of injuries. These competencies are acquired through an educational experience that includes theoretical instruction, service learning, laboratory engagement, and a synthesizing internship experience.

Program Goals

Faculty and administrators are engaged in a collaborative effort to recruit, retain, educate, and graduate healthcare professionals who contribute to the well-being of society. The SON offers undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral programs for the education of professional nurses, a graduate and intern program for professional dietitians, and an undergraduate program in health systems management. The goal of the undergraduate nursing program is to prepare entry-level nurses who competently and professionally deliver nursing care using a community-focus. The goal of the MSN program is to prepare nurses at the master's level who use advanced knowledge and skills to assume a leadership role in interprofessional healthcare delivery to improve health outcomes at the system, population, or individual patient levels.  The goal of the DNP doctoral program is to prepare advanced practice nurses with the highest level of knowledge and skill for providing innovative leadership to the profession and for ensuring high-quality health care across all settings through the dissemination of evidence-based practice initiatives to patients, families, communities and populations. The goal of the PhD doctoral program in nursing is to prepare scholars who improve human health through the development and expansion of knowledge.  The goal of the Loyola Dietetic Internship is to provide quality experiential preparation enabling graduates to enter dietetic practice as competent Registered Dietitians. The goal of the master’s program in dietetics is to prepare Registered Dietitians to design and implement systems that produce desired health outcomes. The goal for the Health Systems Management program is to prepare graduates to perform effectively in entry level positions within the health care industry. Goals for faculty include excellence in teaching while assisting students to achieve expected outcomes. Faculty contribute to collective excellence according to their particular education, experience, abilities, and goals.

Nursing Curricular Outcomes

Outcomes for the BSN Program

At the completion of the program the graduate has the knowledge and skills to:

Outcomes for the MSN Program

At the completion of the program, the graduate has the knowledge and skills to:

Outcomes for the DNP

At the completion of the program, the graduate has the knowledge and skills to

Outcomes for the PhD in Nursing

At the completion of the program the graduate has the knowledge and skills to:

Outcomes for the Health System Management Program

At the completion of the program the graduate will be prepared to:

 Outcomes for the Exercise Science Program

At the completion of the program, the graduate will be able to:

Outcomes for the Dietetic Internship

At the completion of the program the graduate has the knowledge and skills to:

Conceptual Framework of the Undergraduate and Master's Programs

This conceptual framework represents the faculty’s belief that nursing practice arises out of the mutual interaction of person(s), environment, nursing, and health. Persons are bio-psycho-social-spiritual beings who are created by God and have the right to live and die with dignity and to be accepted for their individual inherent worth. Each person develops ideals and beliefs through socialization within a community. Persons learn and display sets of behaviors associated with one’s role(s) within the community. Environment represents the physical and social conditions that create the context within and through which persons and communities interact. Health is a dynamic state of integrated physical, psychological, social, and spiritual well-being within persons and/or communities. Nursing is both a scientific discipline and a practice profession. Nursing science involves engaging in inquiry to develop, expand and refine the scientific knowledge base for professional nursing practice. Nursing practice involves the protection, promotion, optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, communities, and populations (ANA, 2004).

The conceptual framework serves as the common thread for curricular development and implementation among the undergraduate and master's programs. This conceptual framework provides a structure for the student's educational journey. Specific curricular themes are developed for each program.

The conceptual framework and curricular themes are the template for course development and evaluation. This ensures the integration of concepts and themes throughout the nursing program. A student’s knowledge will increase in breadth and depth as the student moves through the program.

The value context within which the educational process of the SON takes place is the Jesuit Educational Mission of respecting the dignity of each individual and viewing learning as a way of seeking and finding God.1

Undergraduate Curricular Themes

The curricula of the SON emphasize increasing competence in levels of prevention, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, cultural competence, ethics, scholarly inquiry, spirituality, and therapeutic nursing interventions. The curricular themes deepen and broaden as students progress throughout the curriculum. The curricular themes are evident in the program outcomes and reflect The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education (AACN, 2008).

The concept of Levels of Prevention is a philosophical consideration that embraces a commitment to wellness, conscious desire to prevent illness and disease, and the belief that health restoration is essential. Levels of prevention include the concepts of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention.


is the process of making decisions with other people regarding health care. Knowledge of health-care systems includes an understanding of the organization and environment in which nursing and health care is provided. "Health-care policy shapes health-care systems and helps determine accessibility, accountability, and affordability."2


is the process by which information, ideas, and feelings are interchanged. It involves symbols, such as written words, gestures, images, and spoken language. It arises from inherent capacities, sociocultural background, environment, attitudes, past experiences, knowledge of subject matter, and ability to relate to others. It is also affected by technological advances in health care and how they impact communication systems.

Critical Thinking

is a self-reflective, cognitive process that seeks to uncover truth within a specific context. Critical thinking is evidenced when skills such as analysis, inference, synthesis, and evaluation are used. Critical thinking results in deliberate and focused data collection, accurate analysis of data, and reflective judgment based on the use of a nursing standardized vocabulary. It is foundational to professional practice and scholarly activities.

Cultural Competence

is the ability to understand and appreciate the learned beliefs, values, and behaviors shared by members of the same group and transmitted by its members to others.3


includes values, principles, and codes that govern decisions in nursing practice, conduct, and relationships. Skill and knowledge in resolving conflicts related to role obligations and personal beliefs are necessary. Values essential to the practice of professional nursing include caring, altruism, autonomy, human dignity, integrity, empowerment, learning, excellence, spirituality, social justice, and the common good.1,2

Scholarly Inquiry

is an ongoing endeavor of faculty and students in which critical thinking skills are developed and used, and in which knowledge is created and transmitted. From inquiry flows scholarship which includes: teaching and learning, independently and with others; using a framework to guide nursing practice; participating in research as consumers and members of professional organizations; using research findings in practice; designing and conducting nursing-related theoretical, applied, and philosophical studies; and, disseminating research findings.


is the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life through a person’s connectedness with self, others, art, music, literature, nature, or a power greater than oneself.4

Therapeutic Nursing Interventions

are actions involving critical-thinking designed to assist movement toward mutually agreed upon health outcomes. Implementation of therapeutic nursing interventions requires the use of nursing standardized vocabulary, cognitive processes, and psychosocial and psychomotor skills.

Master's Curricular Themes

The master's programs emphasize the interrelatedness of the four major concepts of person, environment, and health, with nursing science through advanced practice and inquiry. The learning process takes place within the context of the Jesuit Catholic Traditions of Loyola University Chicago.

Human beings, families, and communities continuously interact with the environment (the physical and social components that surround and influence persons). Environment includes the physical elements of nature and matter, such as air pollution and the chemical preservatives found in food products, and the social elements such as culture, communication patterns, and systems.

A second concept in the Conceptual Framework is person, and the important sub-concepts related to this concept are values and role. As a unique bio-psycho-social, spiritual being, each person possesses common basic needs. These needs are met or fulfilled in varying degrees within a diverse environmental system. Each person exists as a member of a family and as a member of multiple groups in society. Through a socialization process that occurs within these groups, individuals develop a set of moral standards that stem from a value system. These values, over time, serve in part as guides to the person’s behaviors in the fulfillment of diverse roles. Within the context of the curriculum, the concept of person and the allied sub-concepts of values and role are used to refer to human beings, whether the reference is to the graduate student(s), the educator(s), the recipient(s) of health care, or other health care provider(s).

A third concept used in this curriculum model is health. At any given point in time, individuals, families, or communities, while interacting with the environment, arrive at a condition or state of being. This condition of health or maximum capability is usually attained through adaptation by adjusting in a proactive, reactive, and interactive manner to stimuli in the environment.

A fourth concept in the Conceptual Framework is nursing science, defined as the body of knowledge focused on person, family, and community phenomena and their interaction with the environment as these relate to health. Stated in another way, “nursing is the diagnosis and treatment of human responses to actual or potential health problems”(5). Three sub-concepts essential to the science of nursing are advanced practice, inquiry, and ethics. Advanced practice refers to the application of specific knowledge and skills in the care of individuals, families, and communities with actual or potential health problems in a particular area of specialization such as cardiovascular, oncology, or emergency nursing. Inquiry is the systematic, objective investigation of phenomena related to all aspects of health care. It continues to build on the foundation, begun at the baccalaureate level, upon which disciplinary knowledge is developed and advanced nursing practice is rendered. Ethics is the systematic study and application of principles and values that guide behaviors within the context of professional nursing practice.

While each concept (person, environment, health, and nursing science) with pertinent sub-concepts may be considered separately, each one overlaps and is constantly influencing and being influenced by the other elements. Areas of interaction may be observed between person and environment, between person and health, and between environment and health. The concept of nursing science is the focal concept, being both interrelated and yet independent of all the aforesaid concepts.

Systems theory is used to explain the interactions of the concepts and sub-concepts and to organize the curricula. Hierarchical order, a characteristic of systems theory, best describes the tier organization of the curriculum, i.e., core courses, advanced practice courses, functional role courses of the master’s program. Within the open system, there is constant feedback through the process of ongoing evaluation. This feedback results in increased complexity, diversity, and heterogeneity of study, practice, research, and philosophical inquiry.

The meaning and significance of the interrelationship of the concepts and sub-concepts to the practice and discipline of nursing are studied by students and faculty together. The graduate of the master’s program is prepared for advanced nursing practice. This includes: competence in a specialized area of practice, including the ability to: plan appropriate care for individuals as members of families or communities; analyze concepts; seek, apply, and communicate research findings; and demonstrate leadership skills within the health care environment. These achievements constitute the difference between the graduate of the master’s program and the baccalaureate program in nursing.

Educational Process: Master's Curriculum

The Master’s Curriculum is derived from the conceptual framework that places advanced nursing practice at the center of the curricular model. A broad base of scientific knowledge is required of all Master’s students. This “core” set of knowledge consists of a sound theoretical understanding of nursing theories and concepts, a strong ethical base, understanding of epidemiologic principles, and understanding of research as it relates to advanced practice nursing. The MSN program is congruent with the The Essentials of Master’s Education6, National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education’s Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs7, and the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACSN) Recommendations for Graduate Preparation of Clinical Nurse Specialists8.


  1. Loyola University Chicago, (2006). Mission Statement. [Electronic Version]. Retrieved 2-27-07 
  2. American Association of Colleges of Nursing, (2008).  The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. Washington, DC.
  3. Giger, J. and Davidhizar, R. (1995) Transcultural nursing: Assessment and intervention. St. Louis: Mosby Year-book.
  4. Burkhart, L. & Solari-Twadell, P.A. 2001. Differentiating spirituality and religiousness through a review of the nursing literature. Nursing Diagnosis: The International Journal of Nursing Language and Classification, 12(2), 45-54.
  5. American Nurses Association, (2010). Nursing's Social Policy Statement, the Essence of the Profession, 3rd Edition, Silver Spring, Maryland: NursesBooks.org.
  6. American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2011). The Essentials of Master’s Education. Washington DC. Author.
  7. National Task Force on Quality Nurse Practitioner Education. (2012). Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner Programs. (2nd Ed). Washington DC. Author.
  8. National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists. (2004). NACNS Statement on Clinical Nurse Specialist Practice and Education. (2nd Ed). Author.

Accepted: Academic Council May 2002
Editorial Changes - October 2002, December 2002, March 2007, October 2007, February 2011, February 2014



Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing

Undergraduate Programs: 1032 West Sheridan Road, BVM Hall, 8th Floor, Room 800, Chicago, IL 60660 · 773.508.3249

Graduate Programs: Medical Center Campus · 2160 South First Avenue, Building 125-4500, Maywood, IL 60153 · 708.216.9101

Health Sciences Division: Loyola University Chicago, 2160 S. First Avenue, Maywood, IL 60153 · http://www.LUC.edu/hsd

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