In hopes of keeping graduates in the province, the U of M faculty of Nursing has put forth a statement of intent to develop a PhD program.
With a potential roll out date of 2011, the program hopes to develop skilled leaders and researchers in academic and health care settings.
According to Dauna Crooks, dean of Nursing, there is still another year of meetings before the program can be developed.
“We’re actually in the proposal at this point, so the statement of intent is sort of a basic document that lets the university and the ministry know what we’re doing,” explained Crooks.
There are currently no universities in Manitoba that offer a doctoral program in Nursing.
“In Winnipeg alone we have about 150-200 Masters-prepared nurses with nowhere to go,” said Crooks.
Instead, Crooks said graduates interested in obtaining a PhD in Nursing would have to go either to the University of North Dakota, Minnesota or another Canadian university.
Another reason for proposing the PhD program is the need for faculty renewal, said Crooks.
“You can’t renew an academic program without having doctorate-prepared staff,” said Crooks.
She said that in the majority of cases, in order to obtain a faculty position at an academic institution those applying would require a PhD.
“If we ha[d] a PhD program, we would be able to essentially home grow our own junior faculty members,” said Jay Doering, dean of graduate studies at the University of Manitoba.
According to the statement of intent, the program will encourage the study of vulnerable populations and health disparities where assessment, relevant and effective care and social support are required.
“PhD students in this program would be able to [ . . . ] research topics that would be related to [issues affecting] Manitoba, Canada and the world”, said Doering.
The program would also add to the variety of the graduate studies at the U of M, said Doering.
“When it comes to graduate programs, most of the units on campus have both a Masters and PhD program,” said Doering.
“This PhD program would have a much broader appeal, and would certainly be competitive with other PhD university programs in Canada.”
Many universities across Canada currently offer a doctoral program in Nursing, including the University of British Columbia, University of Alberta, and University of Ottawa.
The University of Ottawa, which has a similar program to the one now being proposed at the U of M, has accepted students to their program since 2004. Since that time, between 5 and 15 applicants have applied each year, with 4-5 students being admitted.
While some of the PhD students have started the program directly after completing their Masters of Science in Nursing, over half have been working and decided to return to school.
“Their backgrounds are extremely varied, ranging from management, policy positions to acute care,” said Kirsten Woodend, director and associate dean of Nursing at the University of Ottawa.
Upon graduating, the students can become directors of research or clinical scientists at larger institutions, with a number of hospitals in Ottawa hiring PhD-prepared nurses for these positions. Others seek government positions involved in policy development or obtain a faculty position at an academic institution.
“I know a lot of people who have done their masters or undergraduate degrees and are going to try the practice for a couple of years but fully intend on coming back to do their masters and teach here, or maybe go on to a PhD program,” said (Brittany Weber), UMSU representative of the Nursing Students Association Council,.
“If the opportunity is available here, that’s great; that opens so many doors for Winnipeg and for Manitoba in Nursing.”