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Nursing education at Memorial moves to the next level

The nursing PhD program, only the second one east of Montreal, was approved by Memorial University Senate in June. Since then, the school has been getting inquiries from people like Ms. Bruneau who don't want to leave home to further their nursing education.

"There are very few doctorate programs in nursing that are offered via distance in Canada and most of these programs have a residency requirement," explained Ms. Bruneau. "We have three young children in our family, so studying and conducting research at a university outside the province is not feasible or convenient."

Ms. Bruneau noted that completing this program in Newfoundland has an added advantage for her. "I'm interested in pursuing research in cardiovascular nursing in a province that has the highest rate of heart disease in Canada. I am also able to continue my clinical practice as a nurse practitioner and as a nurse educator."

The PhD Committee. From left are Dr. Alice Gaudine, Dr. Donna Moralejo, Dr. Lan Gien, Dr. Judith McFetridge-Durdle, Dr. Sandra LeFort and Dr. Sandra Small. Missing are Dr. Shirley Solberg and Dr. Chris Way.


As for Dr. Judith McFetridge-Durdle, offering a PhD in Nursing program has been part of her vision for the school since she took on the role of Dean three years ago. "The PhD in Nursing program signals to the discipline of nursing that the Memorial University School of Nursing has come of age and is ready to stand next to the other 15 schools and faculties of nursing in Canada with PhD programs. It's evidence that the school is prepared to contribute to the academy by producing doctoral prepared scholars, educators, researchers and leaders."

Dr. McFetridge-Durdle also noted it will help the school attract and retain PhD-prepared faculty, something that's getting harder to do. "PhD-prepared nursing faculty in Canada are in high demand and 50 per cent of these faculty are over the age of 50 years."

In fact, the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) predicts that by 2022 there will also be almost 60,000 nursing positions in the country unfilled if present trends continue. In most provinces, including Newfoundland and Labrador, nurses are required to have a baccalaureate degree. This has increased enrollments in schools of nursing across Canada and more faculty are needed to teach those future nurses.

"The PhD in Nursing program at Memorial was developed to address the impending shortage of nursing faculty and to generate nursing leaders to address provincial, national and international challenges in healthcare," noted Dr. McFetridge-Durdle.

Dr. McFetridge-Durdle also notes that they will recruit PhD students from the province, the country and other countries which are experiencing the same workforce challenges. "The School of Nursing has a well-deserved excellent reputation for nursing education at the baccalaureate and master's level and we will ensure that same high quality at the PhD level."

As for Ms. Bruneau, who also has a masters of health science and a post-masters certificate, her dream is that a PhD will give her the chance to eventually return to Memorial for a third time; this time as a faculty member teaching future nursing leaders.

(The PhD in Nursing program was developed with the support of key stakeholders including the Director, Centre for Nursing Studies; the Director, Western Regional School of Nursing; the Provincial Chief Nursing Officer; the President and CEO of Eastern Health; the Chief Nursing Officers for Eastern Health, Western Health and Central Health; the Executive Director of the Association of Registered Nurses of Newfoundland and Labrador; and the President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union.)

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