Plan of Study

Program Content Overview

Module 1: Foundations

  • Unit 1: Introduction to High Acuity Nursing and Patient Profile Concepts
  • Unit 2: Professional Nursing and Health Care Concepts

Module 2: Respiratory

  • Unit 1: Pulmonary Physiology and Function
  • Unit 2: Acid-Base Physiology and Arterial Blood Gas Interpretation
  • Unit 3: Failure to Oxygen & Ventilate, Recognition and Response

Module 3: Cardiovascular

  • Unit 1: Cardiac Anatomy, Physiology and Electrophysiology
  • Unit 2: Cardiac Rhythm Interpretation
  • Unit 3: Alterations in Cardiac Function
  • Unit 4: Basic Hemodynamic Monitoring
  • Unit 5: Fluids and Electrolytes

Module 4: Acute System Dysfunction

  • Unit 1: Glucose Control
  • Unit 2: Acute Kidney Injury
  • Unit 3: Gastrointestinal Bleeds, Pancreatitis and Acute Liver Failure
  • Unit 4: Shock

Module 5: Alterations in Consciousness

  • Unit 1: Neuroanatomy and Physiology & Impaired Intracranial Regulation
  • Unit 2: Trauma Care
  • Unit 3: Alcohol Withdrawal
  • Unit 4: Delirium

Module 6: Care of the High Acuity Patient

Full-Time High Acuity Nursing Program

This study option is aimed at ensuring the nurse achieves the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to meet the program competencies. The program is aligned with a transition-to-practice approach that will support the nurse in transferring program competencies into their high acuity care practice. Candidates will be enrolled full time in this program and therefore will be removed from the clinical setting aside from clinical shifts associated with the program.

Interested candidates should reach out to high acuity care environment managers about sponsorship. Only those with confirmed sponsorship and a clinical seat should register for this program option. This study option will only be offered when requested by the employer.

The program includes:

  • Independent, self-directed study online
  • Synchronous, live, online classroom sessions
  • In-person skills and simulation sessions (5 sessions in 6 weeks)
  • Group learning activities such as discussions and case studies with online group meetings
  • Clinical learning in the high acuity care environment

The time commitment to complete the program is approximately:

  • 30 hours of lab/simulation
  • 80 hours of clinical
  • Remaining time designated to hours of study and virtual classroom

Registered Nurses with prior learning or experience fundamental to the practice of high acuity care nursing may qualify for a reduction in skills requirements.


This represents a general timeline for the program. The exact delivery model may vary between offerings.

  • Phase 1, Weeks 1–3: Foundations of High Acuity Care, Respiratory and Cardiovascular content, 2 skills labs, and 2 simulation sessions
  • Phase 2: Clinical integration of Phase 1; includes 3 clinical shifts.
  • Phase 3, Weeks 4–6: Acute System Failure, Altered Level of Consciousness, and Care of the High Acuity Patient content; 1 simulation session
  • Phase 4: Clinical integration of Phase 3; includes 4 clinical shifts.
  • Phase 5, Week 6+: Transition-to-practice plan 

Learning Outcomes

The competencies (outcomes) the learner must achieve by the end of the program are organized using a roles-based competency approach. The learner must meet the key performance indicators of the following roles to be successful in the program:

  1. Clinician
  2. Professional
  3. Communicator
  4. Collaborator
  5. Leader
  6. Advocate
  7. Scholar
  8. Coordinator

These competencies are used to assess the learner’s knowledge, skill, and performance while in the program. Some of these competencies will be achieved upon completion of lessons, assignments, and examinations, while others will be achieved in the clinical setting. As a learner in the program, you will be required to successfully demonstrate each of these roles-based competencies.

The Nova Scotia Health Learning Institute for Health Care Providers offers education programming designed to meet the needs of learners across the province and strengthen our health care system. We are committed to delivering high-quality, evidence-informed programming that enables providers to develop and maintain foundational and specialty competencies.