a group of nurse leaders and innovators sitting at a table

Sept. 8, 2022

New professional degree for health practitioners approved

Doctor of Nursing to be first in Western Canada and will address key gaps within nursing education

A new professional degree for registered nurses (RN) and other health-care practitioners, to be offered at the University of Calgary beginning in January 2023, is designed to support nurse leaders and innovators ready to take on senior roles in health care and related organizations.

Approved by the Government of Alberta Sept. 6, the Doctor of Nursing (DN) program primarily focuses on preparing nurses for professional (but not necessarily clinical) practice. “We are so excited to be only the second post-secondary in Canada to offer such a degree,” says UCalgary Nursing Dean Sandra Davidson, RN, PhD.

Nurses are the pillars of health care: this program will enhance how they lead in a dynamic and ever-changing health system to create positive impact and transformation.

The goal is to prepare RNs and other health-care leaders through development of knowledge in systems innovation, program evaluation and quality assurance/quality improvement.  Associate Dean, Graduate Programs Kathryn King-Shier, RN, PhD, says there have been very few post-secondary opportunities up until now for nurses to hone their skills to be leaders.

“Like many other nurse-educating institutions, we offer a PhD degree which is very different. Where a nursing PhD develops nurse-scientists and educators interested in leading independently funded programs of research and/or working in academia, the DN concentrates on the scholarship of integration and application.”

King-Shier is particularly proud of the DN curriculum that reflects the demands of the nursing environment and the need to produce leaders who understand and can competently deal with the challenges.

“Since the DN is a relatively new credential in the Canadian context, there is no guiding curriculum framework,” she explains. “We have created a strong program that includes the principles of health-care innovation, understanding the context in which innovation occurs, change management and use of technology in health care.

"Students will also be provided with the knowledge needed to bring an inclusive approach to the transformation of health systems, re-emphasizing UCalgary’s commitment to principles of equity, diversity and inclusion that influence historical, contemporary and future health-care contexts. These principles have been directly interwoven into the DN’s program learner outcomes.”

The DN is thesis-based and online with applications opening in September 2022. Students can complete the degree is as little as three years. Learn more about the Doctor of Nursing program