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: Neurological Emergencies
  • Unit 3: Delirium and Alcohol Withdrawal

Module 6: Care of the High Acuity Patient

Part-Time High Acuity Nursing Program

This study option is designed for nurses who will be working part time (60%) on their home nursing units while studying in the program (40%). This 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.

This program option requires sponsorship and a confirmed clinical seat in a high acuity setting from a manager. Interested candidates should reach out to managers of these units about sponsorship.

The program includes:

  • Independent, self-directed, online study
  • 4 education days (7.5 hours) and 4 practice shifts (11.25 hours) every 2 weeks
  • In-person skills and simulation sessions (5 sessions in 10 weeks)
  • Group learning activities such as discussions and case studies with online group participation
  • Clinical learning in the high acuity care environment

The time commitment to complete the program is approximately:

  • 15 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 1–5: Foundations of High Acuity Care, Respiratory and Cardiovascular content, 2 skills labs, and 2 simulation sessions
  • Phase 2, Weeks 5–10: Acute System Failure, Altered Level of Consciousness, and Care of the High Acuity Patient context; 1 simulation session
  • Phase 3, Weeks 10+: Clinical integration of Phases 1 and 2
  • Phase 4, Weeks 10+: 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. Advocate
  6. Scholar
  7. 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.