Complexity in Acute & Critical Care

Subject NURS90008 (2014)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2014.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2014.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 hours on-campus and online lectures
Total Time Commitment:

In addition to the subject contact hours, students are expected to devote approximately 6 hours a week to this subject.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's courses. Students who think their disability will impact on meeting this requirement are encouraged to discuss this matter with the Course Coordinator and the Disability Liaison Unit.


Melbourne School of Health Sciences
The University of Melbourne
Alan Gilbert Building, Level 7, 161 Barry St
Carlton Victoria 3010 AUSTRALIA
T: +61 3 8344 4171
F: +61 3 8344 4188

Subject Overview:

This subject focuses on the assessment, planning, implementation and evaluation of care for patients experiencing complex and/or multiple alterations to normal function. A case study approach is taken to facilitate exploration of diverse aspects of specialty practice across the lifespan and across specializations within Acute and Critical Care. Essential concepts relating to topics such as trauma, transplantation, burns, death and organ donation, pain management, multi-organ system failure, cerebral insult, acute respiratory distress syndrome, rare cardiac and respiratory disorders and toxicology are considered. Students then engage in problem solving activities to apply these concepts to specialty specific assessment and management to inform their practice as proficient level specialty practitioners. Students are also challenged to think beyond the physical aspects of medical interventions to consider the psychosocial, ethical and legal implications of nursing practice in Acute and Critical Care settings.

Learning Outcomes:

Students will be expected to be able to demonstrate their proficiency in specialty nursing practice through:

  • an understanding of the assessment, planning and management of patients with complex disorders requiring multi-system and multi-disciplinary interventions;
  • an ability to resource professional literature and apply research at the 'cutting edge' of knowledge about patient management and specialty nursing practice;
  • completing a group exercise that demonstrates individual ability to apply theoretical knowledge to the practical implementation of care for a specific patient experiencing complex disorders requiring multi-system and multi-disciplinary interventions and the capacity to enhance and value the knowledge of others;
  • a capacity to articulate the outcome of the group exercise in a written form that demonstrates both understanding of the scientific knowledge and research evidence underpinning practice and an appreciation of the contribution of the knowledge of peers;
  • an understanding of the impact of critical illness, medical interventions and technology upon the psychosocial and moral well-being of patients and their families;
  • an appreciation of the ethical and legal implications of acute and critical care nursing practice for the nurse: as an individual; as a member of a disciplinary and multi-disciplinary team; as an employee of the healthcare institution and as a care provider for the critically ill patient and his/her family.
  • an advanced understanding of the changing knowledge base in the specialist area; an ability to evaluate and synthesise the research and professional literature in the discipline;
  • advanced skills and techniques applicable to the discipline; well-developed problem-solving abilities in the discipline area, characterised by flexibility of approach;
  • advanced competencies in areas of professional expertise and/or scholarship.
  • Written assignment of 1500 words (35%) – Due week 6
  • Written assignment of 2500 words (50%) – Due end of Semester
  • Participation of at least 75% of the online activities throughout the semester (15%) (Hurdle requirement)
Prescribed Texts:


Recommended Texts:

A list of recommended texts will be supplied to students on enrolment in the subject.

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On completion of the subject students should have developed the following generic skills of the Melbourne graduate and postgraduate coursework student:

  • a capacity to articulate their knowledge and understanding in written presentations;
  • the capacity to value and participate in projects which require team-work;
  • an understanding of the significance and value of their knowledge to the wider community (including business and industry).
Links to further information:
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Critical Care Theory)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Emergency Theory)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Paediatric Critical Care Theory)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing (Rural Critical Care Theory)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing Practice (Critical Care)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing Practice (Emergency)
Postgraduate Diploma in Nursing Practice (Rural Critical Care)

Download PDF version.