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Unit rationale, description and aim

Safe practice and safety of the public is paramount within nursing. This foundational unit prepares nursing students with an introductory level experience to critical thinking and linking theory to practice. In NRSG139 students are required to identify theoretical concepts to inform their clinical practice and to describe how practice is guided by a continual process of assessment, diagnosis, planning, implementation and evaluation - skills critical for the nurse to deliver best practice.

This unit provides opportunities for students to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge in lectures, laboratories and simulation. Foundational concepts such as critical thinking, clinical reasoning and clinical judgement will be introduced, and practice skills will be developed and extended through scenario based learning in the simulation laboratory.

The aim of this first 'Integrating Practice' unit is to provide the foundations on which clinical assessments are based and model the way in which students will contextualise their theoretical knowledge through clinical practice.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe critical thinking, clinical reasoning and clinical judgementGC1, GC7, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO2Demonstrate developing skills in a person- person health approach (wellbeing, physical, mental, social, cultural and emotional) assessment and management across the lifespan during simulation, OSCEs and/or professional experience placementGC1, GC2, GC4, GC6, GC9, GC10, GC11, GC12
LO3Conduct nursing health assessment interviews at a beginning levelGC1, GC2, GC5, GC6, GC8, GC9, GC11, GC12
LO4Reflect on their learning to analyze effective self-care & learning strategies for themselves and others at an introductory levelGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8, GC11, GC12
LO5Perform peer evaluation using effective communication skills at an introductory levelGC1, GC2, GC4, GC7, GC8, GC12

NMBA Registered Nurse 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, LO4, LO5 

Engages in therapeutic and professional relationships.

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

LO2, LO3, LO5 

Maintains the capability for practice.

3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.6, 3.7

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

Comprehensively conducts assessments.

4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4

LO2, LO3, LO5

Develops a plan for nursing practice.

5.1,5.2, 5.3

LO2, LO3, LO5

Provides safe, appropriate and responsive quality nursing practice.

6.1, 6.2, 6.5, 6.6

LO2, LO3, LO5

Evaluates outcomes to inform nursing practice.

7.1, 7.2, 7.3

LO2, LO4, LO5

National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards (2nd Edition)

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care standards developed in this unit are:

Standards/Attributes/CriteriaLearning Outcomes

Clinical Governance

LO2, LO3, LO5

Partnering with Consumers

LO2, LO3

Medication Safety

LO2, LO4

Comprehensive Care

LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

Communicating for Safety

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO6


Topics will include:

  • Person-centred practice
  • Introduction to person-centeredness and values
  • Applying the principles of person-centred thinking and person-centred planning.
  • Actioning choice, privacy, individuality, independence and inclusion.
  • Professional & therapeutic communication
  • Respectful communication
  • Active Listening & Responding Skills - providing empathy, open & closed questioning, use of touch, use of silence)
  • Introduction to interviewing (introduction phase & working/ middle phase & termination phase)
  • Initial Assessment Interview
  • Professional boundaries & therapeutic use self-disclosure 
  • Communicating as a professional and with colleagues
  •  Nursing assessment
  • Models of nursing
  • Introduction to assessment and nursing assessment
  • Developing an Assessment Toolbox - principles of Assessment
  • Science underpinning basic assessment
  • Pain
  • Vital Signs
  • Thermoregulation
  • Provision, coordination & evaluation of care
  • Introduction to models of nursing
  • Quality use of medicines
  • Quality Use of Medicines Introduction to the concept
  • Health promotion & education
  • Introduction to health promotion and education
  • Diversity and cultural competence
  • Introduction to diversity in healthcare
  • Introduction to cultural competence and safety
  • Professional capabilities
  • Development of professional agency
  • Introduction to Peer review (giving and receiving constructive feedback)
  • Professional accountability and health care law (confidentiality/privacy/ scope of practice/social media/boundaries/respect)
  • Self-assessment and Reflective Practice
  • Developing resilience
  • Clinical leadership
  • Role of the beginning practitioner
  • Clinical reasoning
  • Introduction to the clinical reasoning cycle and critical thinking 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

In line with ACU’s constructivist approach to learning, unit NRSG139 aims for students to assimilate new knowledge with their individually distinct pre-existing understandings and then apply these new learnings to tasks and problems, demonstrating competence and safe practice.

This unit supports this form of learning through diverse delivery of lessons that includes lectures, laboratories, simulation, online activities and self-directed study at an introductory level. In addition, this unit fosters student-centred active learning and accommodates diverse student needs. It includes a combination of self-paced, online learning and real-time classes. Early and additional feedback on learning, and tailored support, are provided to facilitate students’ transition to university. The overall combined effects of multiple approaches to introducing principles of ethics, critical thinking, clinical reasoning and clinical judgement are to promote safe practice.

Scaffold of learning occurs through core concepts being delivered in lectures and then applied within practice scenarios delivered in laboratories and simulation environments. Online activities encourage reflection and self- directed learning of students.

NRSG139 is the first integrated practice unit offered to students within the Bachelor of Nursing and associated degree programs and sets the foundation for skill and knowledge development to occur.

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessments are constructively aligned to the 5 learning outcomes of unit NRSG139 and the learning outcomes of the program and graduate attributes.

A low level stakes assessment weighted at 20% asks students to submit a clinical skills portfolio.

This is followed by assessment 2 weighted at 35% where students are required to reflect on their learnings and submit documentation outlining critical thinking and safe practice.

As an integrated practice unit, demonstration of safe practice is assessed through an OSCE weighted at 45%.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Assessment Task 1 - Clinical Skills Portfolio

Enables students to showcase their learning experiences in a professional manner.


LO1, LO2, LO3

Assessment Task 2 - Reflection

Enables students to undertake reflection, a critical skill to direct future practice, through self-review and appraisal.


LO1, LO4

Assessment Task 3 - Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE)

Enables students to demonstrate competency in professional behaviour, communication skills and safe and effective implementation of foundational nursing skills and knowledge.


LO2, LO3, LO5

Representative texts and references

Alfaro-LeFevre, R. (2017). Critical thinking, clinical reasoning, and clinical judgment: a practical approach (6th ed.). Sydney: Elsevier,

Bulman, C. & Schultz, S. (2013). Reflective Practice in Nursing (5th ed.). Chichester, Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Calleja, P., Estes, M., Theobald, K., & Harvey, T. (2020). Estes health assessment & physical examination (Third Australian and New Zealand ed., Health nursing series). South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia: Cengage Learning.

Crisp, J., Taylor, C., Douglas, C., & Rebeiro, G. (2016). Potter & Perry’s Fundamentals of nursing (5th ed.). Sydney, N.S.W.: Mosby/Elsevier Australia.

Levett-Jones, T. (2017) Clinical reasoning: Learning to think like a nurse. Frenchs Forest, N.S.W.: Pearson.

O’Toole, G. (2020). Communication: Core Interpersonal Skills for Health Professionals. (4th ed.). Chatswood: Elsevier:Australia

Tollefson, J., & Hillman, E. (2019). Clinical psychomotor skills (5-point bondy) : Assessment tools for nurses (7th ed.). South Melbourne, VIC: Cengage Australia.

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