Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Unit rationale, description and aim

The Registered Nurse plays a central role in the provision of health care for people who experience health alterations. Health alterations occur across a range of settings and it is a requirement that the nurse is able to provide care for people experiencing these alterations. This unit is required by students to assist their ongoing development of theoretical knowledge, specifically in relation to nursing practice in the surgical environment.

The principles of surgical nursing that underpin best practice will be demonstrated by the use of evidence-based case studies. Roles of the surgical nurse across a variety of health settings, and within the context of multi-disciplinary care, will be explored across the patient journey. The content contained within this unit will inform nursing students' future clinical practice across a variety of settings.
This aim of this unit is to support students in development of knowledge and skills for person-centred, evidence-based nursing care of individuals experiencing episodic health alterations or illnesses that require surgery.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Demonstrate knowledge of pathophysiology to manage common issues in surgical nursing (GA4, GA5)

LO2 - Outline the biopsychosocial, spiritual and cultural factors that impact on the person’s surgical experience (GA1, GA4, GA5)

LO3 - Apply the Roper-Logan-Tierney Model of Nursing across the lifespan, to the principles of surgical nursing across the care continuum (GA1, GA4, GA5, GA9)

LO4 - Implement the Levett-Jones’ Clinical Reasoning Cycle across a range of settings, to plan safe, evidence-based, culturally sensitive, person-centred nursing care for common health alterations in surgical nursing (GA3, GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9)

LO5 - Apply quality use of medicines, non-pharmacological therapeutic interventions and complementary therapies in the surgical context (GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8) 

LO6 - Apply legal and ethical principles related to the surgical experience (GA3)

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity 

GA3 - apply ethical perspectives in informed decision making

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

NMBA Standards for Practice

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia’s Registered Nurse Standards for Practice developed in this unit are:

Standard/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Thinks critically and analyses nursing practice.

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Engages in therapeutic and professional relationships.

2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8

LO3, LO4, LO6

Maintains the capability for practice.

3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6  

Comprehensively conducts assessments.

4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

Develops a plan for nursing practice.

5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, 

Provides safe, appropriate and responsive quality nursing practice.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6  

Evaluates outcomes to inform nursing practice.

7.1, 7.2

LO3, LO4, LO5


Topics will include:

Surgical nursing care

  • Principles
  • Alterations to health resulting in surgery (e.g. acute neurological problems)
  • Risk factors and comorbidities – impact on surgical experience
  • Biopsychosocial, spiritual and cultural considerations
  • Promoting independence and working collaboratively
  • Safety and risk assessments
  • Assessing for and managing deterioration
  • Patient education
  • Quality use of medicines (anaesthetic agents, intravenous fluids, antiemetics, analgesia, antipyretics and antibiotics
  • Continuity of care
  • Discharge planning
  • Tools for planning care (e.g. care pathways)
  • Legal and ethical issues
  • Preoperative
  • Types of surgery and settings
  • Pathways for surgical admission 
  • Role of the nurse and the multidisciplinary team
  • Admission and preparation for surgery
  • Intraoperative
  • Role of the nurse and the multidisciplinary team
  • Postoperative
  • Role of the nurse and the multidisciplinary team
  • Identifying and managing post-operative complications. 
  • Acute pain management

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Modes of delivery in this unit include lectures, tutorials, online activies and self-directed study. Consistent with adult learning principles, the teaching and learning strategies used within these modes of delivery will provide students with foundational knowledge and skills relevant to professional nursing practice. These strategies will also support students in meeting the aim, learning outcomes and graduate attributes of the unit and the broader course learning outcomes. Learning and teaching strategies will reflect respect for the individual as an independent learner. Students will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and to participate actively with peers.

Students at university need to operate effectively as self-sufficient learners who drive their own learning and access the learning supports they require. To guide students in their learning, feedback is required to identify what is being done well, what requires additional work and to identify progress toward required learning outcomes. Located in the second year of the programme, this theory unit includes moderate face-to-face teaching hours and an increasing online component of learning to build life-long learning skills. Lectures are utilised to convey content and its central principles while tutorials deliver interactive and student-driven learning sessions which require an increasing reliance on students to extend their community of learners and increase self-reliance. Online materials provide students with the opportunity to undertake  directed, self-motivated study and continue to transition to  independent study and life-long learning. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment items consistent with University assessment requirements and policy will be used to ensure students achieve the unit learning outcomes and attain the graduate attributes.

A formative online quiz for this unit will also be made available to students in week 4 of semester to provide feedback on their progress and guide their unit learning. The formative quiz follows the same format as the online quizzes used in first year. First year quizzes were summative; second year quizzes are formative and will not contribute to the final unit grade – they are designed to assist students in the transition toward independent study and life-long learning.

In this unit, students transition from three low weighted assessments (in previous units) to two heavily weighted assessments: a written assignment and examination. The written assignment will allow students to prepare their submission progressively while also providing an opportunity for early feedback. The written assessment will use a case study to engage students with the application of theory into practice. The examination is a focussed assessment requiring steady, progressive learning over the course of the semester. The examination requires a sound knowledge base to answer content questions and an understanding of this content to address the process related questions. 

These assessments are required to build student knowledge and skills which, by the conclusion of this programme, will enable the student to graduate as a safe and effective nurse. 

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Written Assignment 

Enables students to articulate their knowledge and understanding specifically in relation to nursing practice in the surgical environment.  


LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9


Enables students to demonstrate a sound knowledge base in addressing content and process questions related to unit content.


LO1, LO2, LO5, LO6

GA1, GA3, GA4, GA5, GA7, GA8

Representative texts and references

This reference list was finalised in 2016 for internal curriculum approval; it will be revised prior to unit delivery to ensure the most current representative text and reference list for students.

Brown, D., Edwards, H., Lewis, S., Ruff Dirksen, S., Heitkemper, M., … & Camera, I. (Eds) (2012). Lewis's medical-surgical nursing. Assessment and management of clinical problems (3rd ed.).Chatswood, NSW: Mosby/Elsevier.

Bullock, S., & Hales, M. (2013). Principles of pathophysiology. Australia: Pearson.

Bullock, S., & Manias, E. (2014). Fundamentals of pharmacology (7th ed.). Frenchs Forest: Pearson.

Forbes, H., & Watt, E. (2016). Jarvis’s physical examination and health assessment (2nd ed.). Chatswood: Elsevier.

Hamlin, L., Davies, M., Richardson-Tench, M., & Sutherland-Fraser, S. (2016). Perioperative nursing: An introduction. Chatswood: Elsevier.

Martini, F.H., & Nath, J.L. (2015). Fundamentals of anatomy and physiology (10thed.). San Francisco: Benjamin/Cummings.

Levett-Jones, T. (2013) Clinical Reasoning: Learning to think like a nurse. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Pearson.

Martini, F. H., Nath, J. L., & Bartholomew, E. F. (2015). Fundamentals of anatomy & physiology (10th ed.). New Jersey: Pearson. 

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