The UVic PhD in Nursing program now enters its fifth year and the program has successfully admitted and enrolled qualified students from BC and beyond. The current enrolment is 28 students, with the first graduates projected for the current academic year. It is with excitement that we announce the first offering of the UVic Doctoral Program in a distributive format, beginning in the Fall 2011.
From the outset of the program, the School of Nursing has received multiple queries from potential applicants regarding the possibility of offering the program through distributed methods and distance technologies. Given that the program is open only to professional nurses holding Master’s degrees, the profile of the potential applicant is a mid-career professional in either nursing education or nursing leadership returning to graduate school for completion of study in the discipline.
Nursing doctoral students have diverse career goals. While some students seek to become researcher/scholars in academic settings, others seek to lead the profession of nursing and health care policy development from within health and government settings as doctorally-prepared professionals. Many of the potential leaders in nursing academic and practice settings are unable to relocate for doctoral studies but are quite able to make commitments to their own education, should the education be offered in innovative/alternate formats.
There is an unquestioned need for members of the nursing profession to obtain doctoral degrees. Data shows that there are only 0.1% of Canadian nurses who hold a doctoral degree (CNA & CASN, 2007). Further, Statistics Canada reports that nursing is one of the health professions with the fewest full-time faculty members holding a doctorate (2007, p.11).
Taking data from the CASN projections of need for faculty, graduates from current PhD programs meet only 5.8% of the expected demand (CNA & CASN 2007). Others in the discipline have noted that a lack of doctorally-prepared nurses affects the discipline’s ability to generate and use high-impact science (Potempa, Redman & Anderson, 2008) and that nurses with advanced research skills are instrumental in facilitating quality, evidence-based practice. (Chan, Gardner, Wester, & Geary, 2010).
The proposed program is to follow the current curriculum plan for the PhD students, making no changes in courses or requirements. Students will enroll for this option as a cohort of full-time students in beginning their courses in odd-numbered years (leaving the even-numbered years for those students who will form another cohort and to take the program on campus as the program is currently offered).
A distributive program means that faculty engage students in asynchronous learning activities and discussion groups through Moodle, they provide for seminar interactions in real time over Elluminate or WebEx; they engage in supervision over Skype; they set up Wikis and Blogs to provide opportunities for their students to form electronic communities of interest, and in some cases they and their students join interactive electronic communities of practice (eCOPs) that target faculty/student areas of scholarship.
The students admitted to the distributed-delivery cohort will be required to attend on-campus activities at designated times during their progression. In Year 1, they will be required to be onsite at the start of both Fall and Winter terms for approximately 10 days each time. During these times, students will become acquainted with the faculty, the program and courses, and learn how to use the modalities that will deliver the program. Once the core courses are completed by the end of Year 1, electives, additional methods courses, directed studies and research residencies will be arranged individually between the student and supervisor. Students may also be onsite for several weeks during the summer to work on a research project with a faculty member. Students are also advised to identify research preceptors/mentors in their home communities to work with, with the approval of their supervisor.
All students in the distributive option will be required to travel to campus for their candidacy examination and for their dissertation defense. In general, we expect that every student will visit the UVic campus at least once per year until the degree is granted.
We have had unprecedented inquiries about the distributive option and we eagerly anticipate admitting our first cohort for this new option this fall. For more information, visit www.nursing.uvic.ca or contact Lori Klear, Coordinator, Student Affairs, at email@example.com.
From 2011 Winter Communiqué