New Master Degree in Psychiatric Nursing Launched, A First in Canada

January 7, 2011

BRANDON, MB — Thirteen psychiatric nurses, from various parts of Western Canada, assembled on campus yesterday and today. The group is the very first in the country to embark on a Master of Psychiatric Nursing program. Each has chosen one of three streams — education, administration or clinical practice.

“The course work is going to be done online through Moodle (a course management system), and so we wanted the students together to get to know them and for them to know us because so much of being a graduate student is the experience and the working together as peers,” said Dr. W. Dean Care, the Dean of the School of Health Studies at Brandon University. “We wanted to get them off to a good start.”

BU President Dr. Deborah Poff welcomed the students to the campus on Thursday.

“ We’re extremely pleased that we have a full cohort in the first entry class into this exciting, new Master of Psychiatric Nursing,” she said. “The immediate interest and enrolment of qualified candidates from different parts of the country are an indication of how successful this program is going to be.”

Once again, Brandon University has taken the lead and has developed a unique program, following in the footsteps of the University’s introduction of Canada’s first Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing program launched in 1995.

“This is a very exciting time for the School of Health Studies. The program has been in the works for several years. There’s a real need for a Master of Psychiatric Nursing in this country,” said Dr. Care. “These students are the future leaders in this field.”

Upon his arrival at BU in 2008, Dr. Care became involved in talks about the possibility of such a program. At a certain point, it became obvious that an institution, rather than the original consortium-based group, had to take the initiative. Dr. Care pledged that Brandon University would ensure that this program would come to fruition.

Now, these students hail from near and far: A few hail from Brandon and the area, while others live in other provinces or territories. In attendance for the orientation session was Brandon University alumna Candice Waddell. She is currently working as a community psychiatric nurse in Cape Dorset, NU. Waddell not only hopes to be more knowledgeable for her patients through her studies, but also wants to be on the cutting edge in her profession.

“I’m hoping to eventually be a psychiatric nurse practitioner and this is the next step in order to do that,” she said. “My job is very autonomous and that’s another reason why I want to take the Master’s because I’ll have the education then to back the position that I’m doing right now.”

She knows her work is cut out for her, but Waddell is not daunted, especially after having met the other students here the last two days.

“It looks like we’ve got a really good group of people and I think we’ll really be able to support eacher other,” she said.

A psychiatric nurse from Burnaby, BC, Shannon Flannery was thrilled to learn about this opportunity and jumped at the chance to be one of the first to tackle this program.

“We want to advance our profession. We’re all very dedicated to psychiatry and personally, I want to make a difference,” said Flannery, who did her undergrad online and was attracted to this Master program because it also is delivered in this manner. “You can work full time while you’re doing this and get full support online — from instructors or the help desk — and what I’ve seen so far is that the computer system is far superior to what I had before.”
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For more information, please contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Communication Officer
Brandon University
P: (204) 727-9762
communications@brandonu.ca