Nursing and Psychiatric Nursing came to Brandon University originally in 1986 with the announcement of funding for the two post-diploma programs. These programs were originally housed in the Faculty of Science in the new Department of Nursing and Health Studies located in McMaster Hall. The two-year programs admitted students who were already Registered Nurses and Registered Psychiatric Nurses and upon successful completion provided them with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.Sc.N.) and a Bachelor of Science in Mental Health (B.Sc.M.H.)
In 1995, Canada’s first four year baccalaureate program in psychiatric nursing (B.Sc.P.N.) joined the two post-diploma programs at Brandon University. Physically this program remained at the Nurses’ Residence at the Brandon Mental Health centre until 1998 where the Psychiatric Nursing Diploma program had been housed since 1920. In 1997, the three programs left the auspices of the Faculty of Science and the School of Health Studies was established. Dr. Linda Ross became the first Dean of the new School of Health Studies.
In September 1998, the Psychiatric Nursing Program housed at BMHC, and the post-diploma programs, housed in McMaster Hall, moved into the renovated School of Health Studies Building on the Brandon University campus (formally the Music Building and Student Services). Having everyone under one roof fostered collaboration and cooperation amongst the faculty and assisted both students and faculty in becoming more integrated into the university community. The opening of the Health Studies Building was held on Friday, October 30, 1998, and was well attended by students, alumni, dignitaries and members of the university.
In 1998 the School began to offer the first two years of its Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing program by distance to Winnipeg, in collaboration with the University of Winnipeg. Students could complete the psychiatric nursing courses through distance delivery and their required Arts and Science courses at the University of Winnipeg. Office space was rented on the 7th floor of the Rice Financial building and classroom space was rented across the street at the University of Winnipeg. Additional faculty was located in Winnipeg to accommodate teaching Years 3 and 4 of the B.Sc.P.N. program on-site.
In March 2001, the province announced $5 million to expand its nursing program facilities and bring the 4-year B.N. degree to Brandon University. On September 19, 2003 the new Health Studies Complex was officially opened just in time to welcome faculty, staff and years 1 and 2 of the new Bachelor of Nursing program. The Health Studies Complex currently houses the School of Health Studies and the First Nations and Aboriginal Counselling program.
In 2005 additional funding was received to expand the student capacity for the B.Sc.P.N. in Winnipeg. This included hiring additional faculty and staff and a need for permanent space. Renovations began to take place early in 2006 to the lower level of the Rice Financial building. The new space included two classrooms, student lounge, faculty and staff offices and lounge, a counseling room, a laboratory and computer area. The official opening was on August 28, 2006 and classes began a week later.
May 2007, the new Bachelor of Nursing program graduated its first group of B.N. students from Brandon University.
On August 1, 2008, Dr. Dean Care started his tenure as the second Dean of the School of Health Studies. Dr. Care came to Brandon University from the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Manitoba.
On June 9, 2009, the Senate of Brandon University approved that the First Nations and Aboriginal Counseling (FNAC) program be situated within the School of Health Studies. This program was first proposed by the Manitoba Aboriginal Educational Counseling Association and came to Brandon University in 1998. The program was formulated using First Nations and Aboriginal holistic approaches to counseling, healing and community. This move to the School of Health Studies was one of the recommendations put forward by an External Review Committee team that evaluated the FNAC program earlier in the same year. It also recommended a name change of the program and revised curriculum. In September, 2010 the new Indigenous Health and Human Services (IHHS) program accepted its first students. This program is a new and innovative program that provides instruction in Indigenous perspectives of holistic health and wellness; traditional approaches to healing and Western intervention theories and skills.
In 2010, Brandon University was given the go-ahead to establish a Masters of Psychiatric Nursing (MPN) program – the first of its kind in Canada. In January 2011, the program admitted 13 students on a part-time and full-time basis. The program has a total of eight full time seats available for students. Delivery of the program is based on a combination of alternative delivery formats. The MPN program is designed for professionals who are seeking advanced practice roles in administration, clinical practice or education.
In July, 2012 the School of Health Studies become a Faculty of Health Studies. To achieve the status of faculty, the former School of Health Studies had to achieve certain criteria, including having “an independent School Council reporting directly to the Senate”, reaching a sizeable number of students and faculty, implementing graduate programs, carrying out noteworthy research, maintaining a worthy performance record, among others. “This development is so important – for our students, the Faculty and the University. It raises the profile of the entire program making the BU Health Studies experience more valuable to the students. The achievement of this benchmark is a testament to the hard work Dr. Care and the faculty devoted to this initiative,” said Dr. Deborah Poff, Brandon University’s President and Vice-Chancellor.