Course Description

This focus of this course for advanced practice nursing students is to apply concepts of pathophysiology from the cellular level to disease process for assessment of patients with a variety of conditions across clinical settings. The concepts and principles of normal physiology, pathophysiology, and genetics are emphasized. Current research is used to explore disruptions in normal physiological functioning. The impact of positive health behaviors on pathophysiology is addressed. A systems approach and psychophysiological interrelationships are used to analyze the disease processes and their causative factors. The course stresses critical thinking and decision-making in clinical settings based on these concepts.


Course Learning Outcomes

  1. Explain the primary altered physiology of selected diseases and disorders across the lifespan. (PLO )
  2. Explain the secondary effects of altered physiology of selected diseases and disorders on the client. (PLO )
  3. Apply the principles of pathophysiology to clients in clinical situations. (PLO )
  4. Synthesize and apply rationale for nursing interventions based upon principles of pathophysiology. (PLO )
  5. Use pathophysiological knowledge to assess the significance of presenting signs, symptoms, and diagnostic test data. (PLO )
  6. Synthesize and apply current evidence based knowledge from research regarding pathophysiology in disease states. (PLO )

Required Materials

McCance, K., & Huether, S. (2019) Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults And Children . (8th Ed.). Mosby, Elsevier. ISBN: 9780323583473

McCance, K., & Huether, S. (2019) Study Guide for Pathophysiology: The Biologic Basis for Disease in Adults And Children . (8th Ed.). Mosby, Elsevier. ISBN9780323413091

MSN Program Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Master of Science in Nursing, the student will be able to:
Goal: Literacy 

  1. Evaluate and apply evidence-based findings to advanced nursing roles.
  2. Integrate cultural competence into advanced nursing roles.
  3. Integrate the Master Essential’s and specialty standards into the advanced nursing role.

Goal: Communication 

  1. Compose professional written communication for advanced nursing roles.
  2. Speak professionally in advanced nursing roles.
  3. Demonstrate the advanced nursing role through leadership, collaboration, and caring science to improve health outcomes.

Goal: Reasoning 

  1. Evaluate and apply quantitative and qualitative data to validate and guide decision making relevant to health outcomes.
  2. Integrate ethical reasoning into advocacy and decision making.
  3. Objectively evaluate and synthesize information in advanced nursing roles.

Course Grades and Assignments Breakdown

Graded Item# of AssignmentsPointsTotal Points%
Group Presentations72517517.5%
Group Peer Evaluations73212.1%
Study Guides82520020%
HESI Comprehensive Pathophysiology Exam 20020020%

Assessment And Measurement: Grading Scale

PointsLetter GradeIndicator
87-89B+Above Average
84-86BMSN Requirement
74-76CBSN Requirement

Instructional and Evaluation Strategies

This course is organized into 8 weekly modules. The student’s performance will be assessed by the work they do in the course – including participation in the discussions that are a part of each lesson. Students are expected to be able to demonstrate their learning throughout the course.

Categories of evaluation may include:

  • Participation in class discussions, whether online discussion forums or synchronous meetings
  • Exams or quizzes
  • Essays, case studies, research papers, etc.
  • Presentations, including videos, powerpoints, posters, etc.
  • Projects, group or individual
  • Reflections or journals

Students can expect faculty to fairly evaluate this work using the rubrics or other scoring methods provided in the course. This is intended to provide you with feedback and specific guidance that will enable you to take ownership of your learning.

How to be Successful in this Class

  • Be prepared: read the assignments and contribute to our learning community.
  • Plan ahead: create a personal calendar for your course work and life events. Don’t fall behind. But if you do, contact your instructor for their help. Successful students are proactive students.
  • Communicate: if you don’t understand something, ask for clarification from your instructor. Use the class forum. Message your classmates. Email your advisor. Use your USU email account. Communication in a virtual community is key!
  • Explore Resources: Visit the Library Corner for your research needs and information support. Contact for technology assistance. Use Brainfuse for online tutoring and homework help.
  • Keep your eye on the goal: GRADUATION!

Course Calendar

WeekReadings/ContentAssignment/DiscussionDue Date 
1Resource – HESI Specialty Exams (Final Exam)
Course Overview – Course Structure and Due Dates
Course Overview (Narrated PPT)

McCance & Huether:
UNIT I:  The Cell
Ch. 1 Cellular Biology
Ch. 2  Altered Cellular and Tissue Biology
Ch. 3 The Cellular Environment:  Fluids and Electrolytes, Acids and Bases
Unit II  Genes and Gene-Environment Interaction
Ch. 4 Genes and Genetic Disorders
Ch. 5 Genes, Environment- Lifestyle and Common Diseases
Ch. 6 Epigenetics and Disease

Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Syllabus/Plagiarism Acknowledgement
Week 1 Discussion 1 –  Differential Diagnosis

Week 1 Discussion 2 – Cellular Biology

Week 1 Study Guide
Week 1 Quiz



2McCance & Huether:
UNIT IV Cellular Proliferation and Cancer
Unit II Gene and Gene Environment
Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Week 2 Discussion – Pathophysiology of the Disease

Week 2 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation
Week 2 Study Guide
Week 2 Quiz


3McCance & Huether:
Unit IX Cardiovascular and Lymphatic Systems
Unit X The Pulmonary System
Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Week 3 Discussion – Pathophysiology of the Disease

Week 3 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 3 Study Guide
Week 3 Quiz


4McCance & Huether:.
UNIT V The Neurologic System

Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Week 4 Discussion – Pathophysiology of Neurologic Disease

Week 4 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 4 Study Guide
Week 4 Quiz 


5McCance & Huether:
UNIT VI  The Endocrine System
Unit VII The Reproductive system

Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Week 5 Discussion – Pathology of the Disease

Week 5 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 5 Study Guide
Week 5 Quiz 


6McCance & Huether:
Unit VIII The Hematologic System
Unit III Mechanisms of Self-Defense (Re review)
Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Exam Prep – Register, Schedule, and Tech Check (HESI Final Exam)
Week 6 Discussion – Pathophysiology of Endocrine, Fluid and Electrolyte, and Immune Systems

Week 6 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 6 Study Guide
Week 6 Quiz 


7McCance & Huether:
Unit XII  The Digestive System
Unit XI The Renal and Urologic Systems
Module Overview VideoLinked Content Videos
Week 7 Discussion – Alterations in Pathophysiology of Gastrointestinal, Renal, and Urinary Systems

Week 7 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 7 Study Guide

Week 7 Quiz 
Final Comprehensive HESI APRN Specialty Exam


Sunday/Monday between week 7/8no later than Monday 11:59 pm
8McCance & Huether:
Unit XIII The Musculoskeletal System
Unit XIV The Integumentary System
Unit XV Multiple Interacting Systems

Module Overview Video
Week 8 Discussion – Pathology of the Disease

Week 8 Group Presentation & Peer Evaluation

Week 8 Study Guide
Week 8 Quiz 
End of Course Survey



Late Assignments: Late work is not accepted for full credit unless prior arrangements are made with the instructor, or a VERIFIABLE emergency (serious illness, accident, or natural disaster). Technological issues are not considered valid grounds for late assignment submission. This policy does not apply to assignments due on the last day of the session. For incomplete grade requests for the course session, please refer to the USU Academic Affairs Policies.

With professor’s approval, late submissions of an assignment due each week will be accepted based on the following grading criteria.

  • 1-3 days late: 5% deduction from the total points
  • 4-7 days late: 10% deduction from the total points

Technical Requirements

To successfully complete this course, you will need access to appropriate technology with reliable internet access and the appropriate system and software to support the D2L learning platform. The technical requirements for users can be found in the D2L course shell.

Course Assignment Descriptions

You will have several opportunities to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of the principles taught in this course. The primary means of evaluating your work will be through practical application of the material. In the event that you have difficulty completing any of the assignments for this course, please contact your professor immediately. Please refer to the weekly materials section of the lecture for complete details regarding the activities and assignments for this course. The following are the details.

  1. Introduction (24 points)

Please post an introduction to share with your professor no later than the first day of class. The self-introduction should be posted by Midnight (PST) on the first Tuesday of the session. 

  1. Online Forum Discussion Participation (20 points each, 180 points total)

You will be expected to participate in online discussions regarding the weekly topic.

Initial Substantive Posts: After Week 1, the discussion forum initial posts will be on Thursday midnight of each week (Week 1 includes two discussion forums with the first initial post due Thursday midnight of that week and the second initial post Saturday midnight). In your substantive post you are encouraged to use references (you may use your textbook); show evidence of critical thinking and your interpretation as it applies to the concepts or prompt and/or use examples of the application of the concepts to work and life.  Proper punctuation, grammar, and correct spelling are expected. Please use the spell-check function. Your original, initial post should not be just copied and pasted off internet sources, even when you supply a reference/citation. Please paraphrase what you are reading and write what you find using your own thoughts and ideas. This will help improve your writing and thinking. Use of any reference material or outside sources require proper APA citations. Copying and pasting information from the internet will result in zero credit for the post.

Required Replies: In addition to making a primary post, you must make at least two additional substantive posts to classmates and/or your instructor. Your responses should build on the concept discussed, offer a question to consider, or add a differing perspective, etc. Rather than responding with, “Good post,” explain why the post is “good” (why it is important, useful, insightful, etc.). If you disagree, respectfully share your alternative perspective. Just saying “I agree” or “Good idea” is not sufficient for credit. Refer to the rubric for the threaded discussions. Your replies are due by Monday midnight of each week (with the exception of the first discussion in Week 1, when the response posts are due that Saturday midnight).

  1. Group Presentations (25 points each, 175 points total)

Each group will prepare and present 7 pathophysiology case presentations.  Presentations are due Weeks 2-8. Grading/feedback for the assignments will be given at the end of the discussion period. 

Students/Groups will be assigned a diagnostic topic and create a patient scenario to present as a case presentation. Presentations will be completed as a narrated PowerPoint Presentation and posted in the designated discussion forum for the corresponding week. Please see the Group Assignments in the Learning Activities table for each group’s topic. 


  1. Give an overview of the patient with the presumptive diagnosis*.   You can “create” a patient case based on your knowledge of the diagnosis, based on a patient you have seen in your work or personal experience, or use a case study from the following recommended text:
  2. Give an overview of the diagnosis including risk factors and how they cause or contribute to adaptation or pathogenesis. 
    1. Give an in-depth discussion of the pathophysiology of your diagnosis as it occurs over time; include signs, symptoms, diagnostic studies and the underlying pathophysiologic process causing these signs and symptoms.   Support this pathophysiology with high level evidence.
    2. Summarize treatments and outcomes in terms of pathophysiologic alterations
    3. Once you have had an in-depth discussion of your diagnosis overall, be sure to connect your case discussion back to the patient you have presented.  Example, if your patient has HTN and DM, be sure to include a discussion of the symptoms that your patient is exhibiting and discuss treatments specifically aimed for your patient.
    4. Support your case discussion with current (in the past 5 years) high level evidence.  Patient information portals, disease association websites and other resources such as Up-to-date, Epocrates, Medscape, Mayo Clinic are not considered high levels of evidence and should be avoided for your presentations.  While use of the course textbooks is permitted, a minimum of 3 high level citations outside of the course texts is required.  If you are unclear about what is considered high level evidence, please review content from your Evidence Based Nursing Practice Course
    5. Include some graphics to support your presentation and to make it more visually engaging


  • Due: Saturday, 11:59 pm PT
  • Length: The discussion of the case progression and pathophysiology is typically 10 -15 slides, and 15-20 minutes in length.  
  • Format: APA formatting for your presentation is required.

See USU NUR Online Presentation Rubric MSN570 for additional details and point weighting.

  1. Group Peer Reviews (3 points each, 21 points total)

As part of the teamwork experience for the course, students will evaluate each of their group members on their collaborative effectiveness by downloading and completing the Peer Evaluation form available in the online modules. Evaluate each of your group members based upon the categories listed.

  1. Study Guides (25 points each, 200 points total)

The study guide activities provide an opportunity to review and practice application of the weekly course content. The Study Guide has several activities that correspond with each chapter of the textbook. Activities may include: matching, short answer, fill in the blank, crosswords, or multiple choice and other assessments.

Each week, you will select and complete 10 activities from 5 different chapters (maximum of 2 activities per selected chapter) in the study guide that correspond to the assigned chapters for the week. 

Submit your completed activities to the Study Guide Assignment Drop Box by Saturday midnight of each week. This submission may be an image of the completed work.

  1. Quizzes (25 points each, 175 points total)

At the end of each week for Weeks 2-8, there will be a quiz on the assigned textbook content covered that week.

All quizzes and exams are closed book timed exams with only 1 attempt permitted

  1. Final Comprehensive HESI APRN Specialty Exam (200 points)

The signature assignment for this course is the HESI APRN Pathophysiology Specialty Exam. This is a live proctored exam. The proctor process takes place via Proctor U.  

This exam is a 50 question exam for pathophysiology concepts. 

Preparatory Events/Activities (should be completed before Week 7):

  1. Students will  be registered  with Proctor U and HESI by the course faculty representative for Proctor U and Elsevier. 
  2. Students will receive an email from Proctor U approximately 1-2 weeks prior to the exam testing period. 
  3. Students will create a profile with Proctor U using the link in the email received  from Proctor U. For HESI, students will create an evolve account by following the instructions in the resource guide below. 
  4. For more information Proctor U and HESI, including systems requirements, click on the this Resource link.

Scores and Grading:

Scores for the Hesi Exam:


Your Online Course and the Learning Management System Course Platform

Your course is delivered using the online learning management system, Brightspace/D2L. Your course may consist of various written and/or oral/video assignments, discussions, and projects that should be submitted for credit, where plagiarism detector software may be used. This is also where you will engage with your online community of instructor and fellow students. All students are expected to conduct their learning using appropriate online etiquette and professional behavior.