University preparation of Registered Nurses

The first class of students for the three-year diploma program was admitted in 1923. Prior to this certificate courses had been offered to graduates of hospital training programs in order for them to specialize in public health. In 1923, also the option was given for nurses to enroll in the five-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The BScN program rules changed from time to time, but basically it was a combination of arts and science courses and actual hospital training, topped off with a final year leading to a specialization in public health nursing or teaching.

The first full-time Director of the School, Agnes Macleod, wasn't hired until 1936. It was under her guidance that the final or fifth year of the BScN was offered again at the University of Alberta--for several years before this, it had been necessary for students to finish their courses at the University of Toronto or the University of British Columbia. In 1996, the Universities Act made the U. of A. School of Nursing a free-standing academic unit, part of the university and the four-year Bachelor's program was implemented.

A graduate program in nursing in Alberta was introduced in 1975 at the university. It enabled nurses to specialize in administration, or to obtain a certificate in such areas as advanced neonatal intensive care or midwifery. The Master of Nursing program adds flexibility in the response to new and specialized areas of work. The PhD program at the University of Alberta was the first of its kind in Canada, and it continues to prepare nurses for leadership roles - offering courses that test and develop nursing theory.

Many changes have occurred over the years to the length and mode of delivery of nurses training. The University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing (given faculty status in 1976) has offered collaborative programs with hospitals and colleges in the Edmonton area and in 1990 began a five-year pilot program developed with Red Deer College, allowing students to complete the four-year BScN in Red Deer. All of these collaborations make it easier for young people not living in the major centres to take nurses' training if they so wish. Other collaborations with the University of Alberta Hospitals have offered a certificate program in neonatal nursing and nephrology since the 1980s. Emergency and intensive care nursing is also offered as an area of specialization.

The University of Alberta Faculty of Nursing continues to respond to new initiatives and to encourage its students to maintain a life-long learning approach to nursing. In 1998, the International Nursing Office (INO) was established to create an environment for international nursing initiatives. As part of the University's goal of internationalization, a major objective of the INO is to become a center for knowledge development and mutual capacity building in international/multicultural health and nursing. One major goal of the University's International Office is the facilitation of innovative learning and research opportunities for the University and its partner institutions. Another major goal is to assist students to understand global issues by participating in educational opportunities abroad.
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