Nursing PhDs at the U of M

By September 2012, students who would have had to go out of the province or the country to pursue a doctoral degree in nursing could instead pursue one at the University of Manitoba.

The university Senate approved a proposal on Nov. 2 to implement a PhD program in the faculty of nursing. Now the proposal will be sent to the university’s Board of Governors and the Council of Post Secondary Education (COPSE) for approval.

Judith Scanlan, the associate dean of the nursing graduate program, said she is confident that the Board of Governors and COPSE would approve the proposal.
“We are thrilled in the faculty that we are getting very close to having our own doctoral program,” said Scanlan.

According the Scanlan, the faculty of nursing has wanted a doctoral program for about 10 years. They started developing their program in January 2009.

As part of the development of the program, the faculty conducted a survey of 15 students in the fall of 2009 to see how many students were interested in pursuing a PhD in nursing. Fifty per cent indicated they were.

“We’re the leading research intensive education nursing institute in the province and our need is imperative,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan explained the program was needed to sustain and develop the faculty’s research capacity, to support the foundation for academic excellence, and to provide leadership and knowledge translation.

Faculty members have begun to talk with potential graduate students about the program, she said.

“I’ve certainly met several who are interested.”

Lori Lamont, chief nursing officer of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), said she was very pleased about the possible implementation of a doctoral program in nursing at the U of M.

“I think it’s a very important step forward in both nursing education and in nursing research and practice,” said Lamont.

Lamont said she thinks the faculty of nursing will be strengthened by more PhD-prepared nurses and that the program will help build a “community of nursing research,” which will improve the quality of care in the health system.

The PhD program will take six students every two years and will add four years to a nursing degree, but Lamont doesn’t think it will have much of an impact on the size or availability of the nursing work force.

“It will be a balance between conceivably having them away from the system for a couple of years and the benefits that they will bring to the system when they come back,” she said.

Michelle Long, a graduate nursing student at the U of M, said “it is about time,” in regards to the university developing a nursing PhD program.

Long said that nurses trying to pursue a doctoral degree should not have to go outside the province.

“The province and U of M should strive to recruit and retain these nurses [ . . . ] to teach, perform research, and be a resource,” she said.

Long said she would definitely be interested in pursuing a PhD in nursing at the U of M. She plans to enrol in the next two years if the program exists.

Donna Blair-Lawton, secretary for the graduate nurses students association, said she thinks the plan to implement a PhD in nursing is “absolutely wonderful.”
Blair-Lawton said the program is “huge” for any student who wants to pursue academia, research, or be a professor.

Blair-Lawton also said she would be interested in pursuing a PhD, and when she talks to other student nurses she encourages them to go on with their studies and get a master’s degree or a PhD.

The proposal for a PhD program in nursing was presented to the Board of Governors for consideration on Nov. 15.