Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit


NRSG636 Foundations of Specialty Practice 1

Teaching organisation

150 hours of focused learning.

Unit rationale, description and aim

Practicing at a specialist level in nursing requires specialist knowledge and skills. One important element is the knowledge of pathophysiology focused on complex conditions and diseases seen in the specialist healthcare consumer cohort. Knowledge of pathophysiology and abnormal physiological processes associated with the complex conditions assists students to analyse and evaluate the disease process and to understand, apply and develop an appropriate plan of care in their specialist clinical setting.

This unit is required by students to assist their understanding of the pathophysiology of complex conditions and diseases and the scientific concepts underlying complex treatments (pharmacological and other treatments). Selection of content is based on complex health conditions and recent advances in the specialist setting, and builds on the foundational bioscience, epidemiology, growth and development acquired in previous units. In addition, consideration is given to rehabilitative and/or palliative approaches to care in the specialist clinical setting.

The aim of this unit is to support students to evaluate the scientific basis upon which the practice components of specialist nursing care are based, fostering a clinical nurse with the knowledge and skills to deliver a person-centred and evidence based quality care within a dynamic profession.

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 - Analyse anatomical, physiological, developmental and pathophysiological concepts related to complex health conditions in their area of specialty practice (GA4)

LO2 - Evaluate the science underpinning management (pharmacotherapy, non-pharmacotherapy) of complex health conditions in the specialist clinical setting (GA5)

LO3 - Critically analyse and apply the evidence underpinning curative, rehabilitative, preventative, and/or palliative approaches to care for patients in their specialty practice (GA8, GA9)

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

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

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

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


Topics will include:

  • Complex health conditions:
  • anatomy and physiology
  • pathophysiology
  • developmental
  • Pharmacotherapy regimes for complex health conditions:
  • pharmacodynamics
  • pharmacokinetics
  • Bioscience concepts underlying complex health conditions:
  • diagnosis
  • treatment (pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments)
  • rehabilitative palliative curative or preventative approaches to care

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Teaching and learning strategies utilised in this unit will support students in meeting the aim and achieving the learning outcomes relevant to this unit as well as to the broader course learning outcomes. 

This unit is offered in online mode and uses an active and collaborative learning approach to support students in the further exploration of scientific knowledge that underpin their specialist nursing practice. Students have the opportunity to actively engage with the content through readings, discussion forums and collaboration with their peers to enhance their learning. Students are required to complete online modules and assessments to demonstrate the application of knowledge. The learning and teaching strategy used in this unit allows flexibility for students while ensuring they have expert support. These modes of delivery assist students in linking scientific knowledge to specialist clinical nursing practice and develop shared meanings through online experiential reflections and discussions.

Assessment strategy and rationale

In order to successfully complete this unit, a minimum combined total grade of all assessment tasks of 50% is required to pass this unit.

The assessment strategy used in this unit encourages the progressive development of students’ scientific knowledge and skills to enable them to meet the unit learning outcomes. In order to develop the knowledge and skills required to achieve the learning outcomes and Graduate Attributes, students first demonstrate knowledge through participation in an online pharmacotherapy quiz. Students’ understanding of the pathophysiology of complex health conditions in the specialist clinical setting is further developed through participation in a team assessment. The final assessment enables students to utilize the scientific knowledge gained through the semester to present a case study from their specialist clinical setting and evaluate the management of the case using current evidence-based practice.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Multiple Choice Quiz

Enables students to demonstrate their ability to analyse the science underpinning pharmacological management of complex health concepts



GA4, GA5, GA8, 

Digital Presentation Assessment Enables students to analyse anatomical, physiological, developmental and pathophysiological concepts and evaluate the science underpinning pharmacological/non pharmacological management related to complex health conditions in specialty patients. 


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Case Study

Enables students to demonstrate critical thinking skills, analysis and synthesis of evidence and apply evidence underpinning approaches to care for patients in specialty practice


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA4, GA5, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Within each learning module, students will find links to various chapters from the following texts. Most of these books are available as eBooks accessible through the ACU library.

Arnold, E., & Boggs, K. U. (2019). Interpersonal relationships: professional communication skills for nurses (8th ed.). Saunders.

Beauchamp, T. L., & Childress, J. F. (2019). Principles of biomedical ethics (8th ed.). Oxford University Press.

Bryant, B., & Knights, K. (2019). Pharmacology for health professionals (5th ed.). Elsevier.

Bullock, S., & Hales, M. (2019). Principles of pathophysiology (2nd ed.). Pearson.

Estes, M. E. Z., Calleja, P., Theobald, K., & Harvey, T. (2016). Health assessment and physical examination (Australian and New Zealand 2nd ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.

Greenhalgh, T. M., Bidwell, J., Crisp, E., Lambros, A., & Warland, J. (2019). Understanding research methods for evidence-based practice in health (2nd ed.). John Wiley & Sons.

Hoffmann, T., Bennett, S., & Del Mar, C. (2017). Evidence-based practice across the health professions (3rd ed.). Elsevier.

McCance, K. L., Huether, S.E., Brashers, V. L., & Rote, N. S. (Eds.), (2019). Pathophysiology: The biologic basis for disease in adults and children (7th ed.). Elsevier. 

Patton, K., & Thibodeau, G. (2019). Anatomy & physiology (10th ed.). Elsevier/Mosby.

Taylor, K. (2019). Health care and Indigenous Australians: cultural safety in practice (3rd ed.). Macmillan International Higher Education: Red Globe Press.

Recommended specialty textbooks will be listed in LEO.

Have a question?

We're available 9am–5pm AEDT,
Monday to Friday

If you’ve got a question, our AskACU team has you covered. You can search FAQs, text us, email, live chat, call – whatever works for you.

Live chat with us now

Chat to our team for real-time
answers to your questions.

Launch live chat

Visit our FAQs page

Find answers to some commonly
asked questions.

See our FAQs