Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing

Steven and PhD studentsMemorial University's School of Nursing launched a new Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing program in September 2013.

The aim of the program is to educate our next generation of nurse researchers and scholars as leaders in nursing practice, education, research, administration, and policy.

The PhD program will influence nursing practice, improve care, and promote positive patient/client outcomes.

Our next intake of doctoral students is in September 2017.  The deadline for submission of applications is January 31, 2017 for entry in September 2017.

Program overview:

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing is offered in areas reflective of the strength and expertise of current faculty members in the School of Nursing. All students are required to enroll full-time in the PhD program and be on site in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, for the first six semesters (i.e., two academic years).  The program's curriculum consists of six courses, two internships, graduate seminars, and a dissertation.

List of required courses:

  • 7011 Nursing: The Science
  • 7012 Nursing: The Profession
  • 7100 Nursing Research I: Conceptualizing Research
  • 7101 Nursing Research II: Conducting Research
  • One of Nursing 7200-7210: Reading Courses in Research Methodology, or equivalent
  • One of Nursing 7300-7310: Reading Courses in a Substantive Area for Research, or equivalent
    Note:  Other courses may be required based on recommendations by the student's supervisory committee.

Application procedure:

Applicants must normally hold a Master of Nursing (MN) degree with a minimum GPA of 3.4 and be eligible to register as a registered nurse in Newfoundland and Labrador.  See the Admission Requirements for further details.

Applications for September, 2015 are due on January 31, 2015.

Applicants must submit all materials required as part of the basic application package (see: In addition, each applicant must also submit:

  1. A letter of confirmation from a faculty member who has agreed to be his or her supervisor if the applicant is accepted;
  2. A five-page research project overview consisting of a statement of the research problem and supporting background and rationale, specific research questions, and an outline of potential methods to address the questions;
  3. An explanation (maximum 1 page) about the importance of the research topic and how it links to the applicant’s experience, expertise and future goals;
  4. An explanation of how the applicant will manage the workload associated with full-time doctoral studies given other commitments (e.g., family, work); and
  5. A current and full CV.

Note that all students in the PhD in Nursing program must be registered as full-time students for the first two years of the program and commit to devoting full-time hours to their academic program (

Applicants will need to have a potential supervisor identified and confirmed prior to submission of the application. Therefore, it is important for applicants to begin their search by reviewing faculty profiles listed below and contacting a potential supervisor as soon as possible. Individual faculty members will identify what information they require from applicants and make arrangements for face-to-face, telephone or Skype interviews.

Because the 'fit' between student and supervisor has been identified as the main predictor of success in doctoral programs, the applicant's research interest must align with that of one of our research-intensive faculty members. The faculty member must agree to be the applicant’s supervisor should the applicant be accepted. However, agreement by a faculty member does not guarantee acceptance into the program. Admission to the PhD program is on a competitive basis. Decisions about acceptance of applicants are made by the School of Nursing and the School of Graduate Studies, not by individual faculty members or potential supervisors.

For additional information about the PhD program or the application process please contact the Academic Program Assistant, Graduate Programs (Michelle Caines-Puddester at

Application forms and additional information are available on the School of Graduate Studies website at


Faculty profiles:

 Alice Gaudine, M.Sc. (Applied) (McGill), PhD (Concordia), RNDr. Alice Gaudine

Dr. Alice Gaudine focuses on research is in the area of the ethical conflicts of nurses, nurse managers, and other health professionals. Working with other colleagues and using qualitative and quantitative methodologies, she has explored ethical conflicts related to value differences with health care organizations, ethical conflicts related to clinical situations, professionals' use of clinical ethics committees, the functioning of clinical ethics committees, and outcomes of nurses' ethical conflict including stress, turnover, and absence.

Dr. Gaudine plans to extend this research by examining the ethical conflicts of health professionals working in nursing homes and in community services, how these professionals manage their ethical conflicts, how ethics consultation functions in nursing homes and the community, and the satisfaction of health care professionals, clients, and family members with ethics consultations.

In addition, Dr. Gaudine's research interests include bullying and incivility in the work place, outcomes of these behaviours for professionals and clients and programs to reduce bullying and incivility. She is interested in the quality of nurses' work life and clients' views of the quality and safety of their care.

Donna Moralejo, BA (McGill), B.Sc. (McGill), M.Sc. (Applied) (McGill), PhD (Calgary), RN

moralejo@mun.caDonna M

Tel: 709-777-6527

One of Dr. Moralejo's areas of research interest is infection prevention and control in any setting, although she also has experience in different international projects related to capacity building for improving childhood immunization. She is interested in the effectiveness of different initiatives in infection prevention and control, such as promotion of routine practices, or specific screening or surveillance protocols.

Over the next few years Dr. Moralejo will focus specifically on the development and evaluation of programs to improve understanding and application of routine practices and additional precautions in different healthcare settings and in nursing undergraduate programs. She has co-authored two Cochrane systematic reviews on interventions to improve hand hygiene, which she is currently updating. She is also starting a systematic review on interventions to improve application of Standard Precautions.

Putting evidence into practice, including evaluation of education initiatives, is Dr. Moralejo's other area of research interest. Over the next few years she will also look at the evaluation of strategies or tools to promote critical appraisal of literature for guideline or policy development.

Cynthia L. Murray, BN (Memorial), MN (Memorial), PhD (Alberta), RN

cindym@mun.caCindy Murray

Tel: 709-777-8311

Dr. Murray’s program of research stems from her extensive community health nursing experience. In particular, her research focuses primarily on chronic disease prevention and management, especially among vulnerable populations.

Dr. Murray’s recent studies relate to smoking cessation in pregnancy, Indigenous peoples and health, body weight and health, multiple sclerosis, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. She uses qualitative and quantitative research methods, including systematic reviews (e.g., meta-analysis).


Karen PKaren Parsons, BN (Memorial), MN (Memorial), PhD (Rush), RN 

Tel: 709-777-6528

Dr. Parsons' research expertise is in the area of aging and the older adult. Although she is interested in many aspects of healthy aging, she is primarily interested in the older adult's experience with age-associated memory loss and mild cognitive impairment.

Dr. Parsons is also interested in the area of family care giving for the older adult especially families caring for frail older adults and those with dementia of the Alzheimer's type. She is currently planning to explore innovative teaching strategies with undergraduate students as a means to increase interest and improve attitudes toward caring for the older adult. Methodologically her expertise is in qualitative research, particularly hermeneutic phenomenology, but she also has experience in grounded theory.

Caroline J. Porr, BScN (McMaster), MN (Calgary), PhD (Alberta), RN

cporr@mun.caCaroline P

Tel: 709-777-7098

Dr. Porr’s research interests stem from her doctoral research during which she employed grounded theory methodology to formulate a relationship building model for public health nurses who work with vulnerable and potentially stigmatized clients. Research interests include establishing therapeutic relationships, social intelligence competencies, social cognitive theory and person-centered care. In addition, Dr. Porr wants to investigate how advances in social neuroscience may inform empathic skills training of both frontline practitioners and nursing students.

Dr. Porr is a CIHR Graduate Fellow of the International Institute of Qualitative Methodology, University of Alberta and has a broad qualitative health research knowledge base and skillset, especially grounded theory. Recently she has been teaching mixed methods research to graduate-level students at MUNSON, and overseas in Vietnam and Mainland China. Dr. Porr has also completed systematic review training (from the Joanna Briggs Institute and the local Cochrane Centre) and is in the process of conducting both qualitative and quantitative systematic reviews.

Sandra P. Small, BN (Memorial), M.Sc. (Nursing) (Toronto), PhD (Alberta), CREDr. Sandra Small, RN 

Tel: 709-777-6973

Dr. Small has a broad range of research interests that include coping with chronic illness and disability, particularly as it pertains to respiratory illness, health promotion and disease prevention. Recently her main focus has been on smoking prevention in youth and smoking and smoking cessation during pregnancy.

Dr. Small is particularly interested in parenting children about risk behaviours such as smoking. Her research method expertise is qualitative, predominantly grounded theory, but she has also used phenomenological methods.