The philosophy of the Heritage Valley Kennedy School of Nursing reflects the beliefs of the faculty and supports the mission of the Heritage Valley Health System. The faculty recognizes the advantage of ties between nursing education and an institution that provides a variety of health care services.

The faculty of the Heritage Valley Kennedy School of Nursing accepts the responsibility for the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the total program in response to the individual needs of the students, the community, and current nursing practice. We believe that the role of the faculty is to provide educational experiences and guidance to facilitate the learning process and to foster the development of the student as a person and a nurse. The beliefs and values, as set forth in the following concepts, are held by the faculty of the Heritage Valley Kennedy School of Nursing.

Human Beings

Human beings are multidimensional, bio-psycho-social-cultural-intellectual-spiritual beings in constant interaction with their internal (self) and external environment. Humans are viewed as valued holistic persons, to be respected, nurtured and understood with the right to make informed choices regarding their health. Humans are unique and integrated open systems that interact, interrelate, and are interdependent with the environment. Throughout the lifespan, humans strive to achieve optimal well being through an interactive process between the internal and external environment utilizing adaptation. Adaptation is a dynamic response to stressors that impact the humans’ physiological, psychosocial, developmental, cultural, and spiritual dimensions relative to their environment.


Environment is composed of two components, the internal and external systems. Interchange occurs between humans and their environmental systems. The internal environmental system includes physiological, psychosocial, developmental, cultural and spiritual dimensions. The external environmental system consists of groups of humans united by common familial, geographic, socioeconomic, political, spiritual, cultural, and physical characteristics. Environment is diverse and ever changing, constantly influencing and responding to dynamic forces. These surrounding conditions alter health and/or well being and require adaptive responses. A focus of nursing is to optimize the environment in diverse health care settings to assist the clients to meet their individualized basic needs.


Community is viewed as a system of people living a relationship which can be based upon geographic location, cultural ties, and/or bonds of special interest. Community is a focal point of concern for the nurse and is the context in which the recipient and nurse interact. The community has a responsibility to participate in the planning and implementation of health services that affect life and well-being. We, the faculty, contribute to the quality of life of the community by serving as a resource for group endeavors, providing educational opportunities, and preparing nurse graduates to meet healthcare needs of the community. We believe that nurses cultivate a spirit of community, teamwork, and partnership by collaborating with and empowering others. The nurse’s knowledge of culture and cultural concepts can serve to improve the health of the community. Culture is innately related to how individuals, families, and groups within the community perceive issues of health and wellness and guides health care decision-making. The first step in understanding the health care needs of clients is to understand personal culturally-based values, beliefs, attitudes, and practices.


Health is a holistic, dynamic evolving process characterized by adaptive responses to the internal and external environments. It is an integrated, synthesized balance among the internal environmental dimensions of the human being, resulting in optimal use of resources to minimize health alterations. Adaptation is the process by which one attempts to maintain the balance. The degree of balance between the person and the stressors of the internal and external environments determines the person’s level of health.

Health exists on a continuum in which adjustments are made to maintain the relative constancy called homeostasis. Wellness is a state of health in which basic needs are being met and homeostasis is maintained. Health at any given point in time is observed on the health-illness continuum represented by optimal well-being at one end and death at the other end. Primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention measures for health related issues are essential for optimal functioning of an individual across the life span. An optimal state of holistic health is reached when human beings identify and cope with their environmental stressors allowing them to reach their goals to achieve a higher level of wellness and self-defined quality of life.


Nursing is a professionally practiced discipline which combines the art of caring and the science of nursing based on current research findings. We believe caring to be a creative and dynamic process as described by Jean Watson’s Caring Theory.

“Caring science encompasses a humanitarian, human science orientation to human caring processes, phenomena and experiences.”

The science of nursing is the body of knowledge developed from nursing theory and research, as well as knowledge integrated from other disciplines and behavioral sciences. It is the goal of nursing to provide holistic, dynamic, compassionate, and integrated care through use of the nursing process. The process includes therapeutic interventions, communication, clinical judgment and critical thinking. The professional nurse uses leadership and management skills to collaborate with other health team members, individuals, families, groups and communities to promote autonomy in establishing and maintaining an optimal state of wellness, recovery from illness or a peaceful death. As a profession, nursing is committed to assist client systems via clinical judgment in the promotion, maintenance, restoration, and/or rehabilitation of the client on the health-wellness continuum.


Teaching, as a special form of communication, is a transaction involving both learner and teacher where the teacher acts as a facilitator, a role model and a resource person in an environment that fosters learning. It is a system of diverse planned activities including various modes, methods and technologies arranged to bring about learning. Teaching incorporates the knowledge, skill, experience, and expertise of the teacher. It assists the learner to acquire, develop, organize, and structure knowledge and promotes desirable attitudes, habits and skills. Teaching also fosters a spirit of inquiry, a sense of discovery and the desire to pursue self-directed, life-long learning for professional and personal growth. There are various settings in which teaching is conducted. Teaching may be conducted in formal arenas such as the classroom and clinical laboratory as well as informal settings such as clinics, client homes, or the community.

Learning is a dynamic, interactive, continuous, self-directed, life-long process characterized by the acquisition of knowledge, self-awareness and self-discovery. Learning is facilitated by the breadth and depth of ones’ critical thinking, and by cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills, all of which change the behavior of the learner. The learner’s behavioral change results from the interaction of the individual with his/her environment. Each human being has a unique learning style. Learning is an individualized, holistic process which occurs best when learner rights are respected and when the learner accepts and assumes responsibility to be self-directed and to make decisions involving his or her own growth to attain professional and/or personal goals. Learning proceeds from simple to complex, and is enhanced by the correlation of theoretical concepts with clinical experiences over a period of time. Essential to learning is the person’s internal motivation to learn and the ability to act on knowledge once acquired. The learner’s individual interests, attitudes, beliefs, values, and needs affect the process of learning.

Nursing Education

We believe that nursing education is a multi-dimensional, collaborative process through which critical thinking is developed as knowledge is accrued and competencies are acquired. It is the responsibility of the nursing educator to provide tools to meet the unique needs of the student in an environment conducive to learning and to serve as a role model. Students are viewed as adult learners. In this context, learners engage in the educational process in a spirit of self-directedness by assuming responsibility for learning, thereby providing an impetus for life-long professional and/or personal growth. Nursing education encompasses the teaching-learning activities designed to prepare individuals to assist in the promotion, maintenance, restoration, and rehabilitation of individual clients, families, groups and the community. Within nursing education, the nursing process is utilized as a systematic method of decision-making, designed to facilitate critical thinking for the development and application of nursing interventions to meet client needs.

School of Nursing Mission

Based on our Philosophy, we the faculty of the Heritage Valley Kennedy School of Nursing, strive to develop and present an educational program to prepare graduates to practice competently and safely in entry-level positions in a wide range of settings and to meet the needs of the community.  We pursue to instill in our graduates a motivation to continue to develop professionally and personally by maintaining clinical competence, actively participating in professional organizations, and embracing the concept of lifelong learning.  It is our mission to develop the student from novice to competent resulting in a nurse generalist proficient in the areas of holism, safety, critical thinking, communication and professionalism.

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