Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Nursing

MUNSON's first PhDsMemorial University's Faculty of Nursing launched its 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.

The next entry to the PhD program is expected to be September 2021. Applications for admission in September 2021 will be accepted between September 1, 2020 and Jan. 31, 2021.

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 Faculty 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 a minimum of six courses, two internships, graduate seminars, and a dissertation.

Faculty profiles:

The following faculty members may be available to act as supervisors or co-supervisors.

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

cindym@mun.caCindy Murray

Tel: 709-864-3608

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: 709-864-2305

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. Parson's 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

Recipient, 2018 Presidents Award for Distinguished Teaching

cporr@mun.caCaroline P

Tel: 709-864-3410

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: 709-864-8112

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.


Nicole Snow, BN (Memorial), MN (Memorial), PhD (Alberta), CPMHN(C), RN


Tel: 709-864-3607

Dr. Snow's program of research is focused on relationships.  She is interested in exploring how people interact and engage with one another under a plethora of circumstances with a primary focus on mental health contexts. This includes how we relate to one another as families, friends, colleagues, and members of society, in addition to the various social organizations and institutions that exist. Of primary interest are: the relational dimensions of professional engagement; the ethical and legal considerations inherent in professional care; the concept of professionalism and its praxis; and inter-professional education and practice. To support her research interests, Dr. Snow has clinical experience in mental health care settings. She also has experience in the examination of policies and legislation. 

Dr. Snow's current research activities involve exploring the mental health of individuals and families separated by work, the use of occurrence reporting forms for violent behaviour in mental health settings, the intersection of the work processes with peace officers and nurses, and system usage of at-risk youth.

She is also exploring teaching -learning initiatives, such as how to improve facilitator training for individuals leading inter-professional education groups and promoting self-reflection in nursing students. In the past, she has explored issues related to nursing professionalism, the health of single mothers attending university, and the challenges in implementing mental health legislation in Newfoundland.

While she has used quantitative research methods, many of the research questions that Dr. Snow has and is currently exploring are answered through the use of qualitative methods. In particular, she has experience with phenomenology, institutional ethnography, and discourse analysis.   


April Pike, BN (Memorial), MN (Memorial), PhD (Memorial), RN


Tel: 709-864-7453

Dr. Pike's program of research and practice are in the field of genetics and risk, simulation and cardiovascular disease.  She has been involved in several studies related to the psychosocial aspects of living with genetic conditions, including arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) and familial colorectal cancer type X (FCCTX).   

Dr. Pike has received grants from several funding agencies including Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Office of the Public Engagement, MUN School of Nursing (MUNSON), Association of Registered Nurses, Atlantic Regional Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing, Newfoundland and Labrador Healthy Aging Research Program and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.  She is currently the Co- Principal Investigator on a research project (MUN Seed, Bridge and Multidisciplinary Fund) dealing with fostering success on the NCLEX-RN, as well as a Co-Investigator on a Teaching and Learning Grant involved in exploring the integration of high fidelity simulation into the undergraduate nursing curricula.      

Dr. Pike has expertise in qualitative health research methods, grounded theory and phenomenology.      


Joy Maddigan, BN (Memorial), MN (Memorial), PhD (Calgary), RN


Tel: 709-864-3606

Dr. Maddigan’s research interests are interdisciplinary, primarily practice-based and focused on mental health and illness; particularly the quality of life and recovery outcomes for those who suffer from early psychosis. Using mixed methods approaches to better understand the recovery milestones and experiences of individuals and families, Joy’s research goals include fostering a greater understanding of the therapeutic work of psychiatric mental health nurses and the impact of their work on the health of the population. Joy is currently concluding a pilot study that examined the feasibility of implementing a ten-year follow up study of individuals and families who participated in the early psychosis program of Eastern Health. Applications for funding the long term study are being explored. In addition development work is underway on a study to examine the effect of an illness beliefs intervention on the short term recovery outcomes of individuals who have experiences a first episode of psychosis. Involving clinical nurses in research on nursing practices is a developing but important part of Joy’s emerging program of research.   


Julia Lukewich, BNSc (Queens), PhD (Queens), RN


Tel: 709-864-8211

Dr. Lukewich's program of research is concentrated on better understanding which organizational strategies best support the management of chronic disease within the primary care setting, with a particular focus on nursing resources and nursing roles.  She is currently focused on exploring the current state of nursing within primary care in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) and identifying opportunities (e.g., existing funding structures/strategies used to support nursing resources) to implement nursing into this setting.

Dr. Lukewich is Principal Investigator on a research project focused on Type 2 diabetes management and nursing in primary care within NL, as well as a Co-Investigator on several research projects at the provincial and national level concentrated on identifying an optimal team based model of care that supports patients within primary care settings.  She is also working with the Canadian Family Practice Nurses Association (CFPNA) to develop core practice competencies for Family Practice Nursing, and is the Co-Principal Investigator on a project related to understanding the predictors of success for the NCLEX-RN.

Dr. Lukewich has expertise in quantitative research methods, including cross-sectional designs, systematic reviews and secondary data analysis.  


Anne Kearney, BN (Memorial), MHSc (Toronto), PhD (Memorial), RN


Tel: 709-777-6754

Dr. Kearney’s research interests at present include appraisal of evidence related to breast screening effectiveness, mammography in particular, and the quality of nurses’ worklife including performance of non-nursing duties. I am interested in the critical appraisal of evidence related to health care procedures and tests and its application to health policy and public dissemination. I am also interested in working with clinical partners in the identification, analysis, implementation and evaluation of strategies to address issues of concern in the health care system, particularly affecting nurses. I have experience in participatory action research, survey research, qualitative research (focus groups and interviews), and (limited) experience in quantitative research.    


Faculty of Nursing

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000