MacEwan University’s nursing programs now have a faculty to call their own
Nursing programs have long been a valued part of MacEwan University’s academic offerings. For decades, nursing graduates from MacEwan have played a vital role in Alberta’s nursing community and beyond. Now, a recent change has elevated the Department of Nursing to a faculty of its own, a move that will undoubtedly raise the profile of the university’s nursing programs and centres.
Previously, all nursing programs and centres had been part of MacEwan’s Faculty of Health and Community Studies. However, the faculty’s growing success created challenges. The growth of programs meant a burgeoning administrative burden that demanded significant time and labour. It became clear that the best way to proceed was to create two separate faculties, so, in July of 2016, the Faculty of Nursing was officially formed, and Dr. Vince Salyers was brought on board as the founding dean.
“There are a couple of things that really launched it,” explains Salyers. “First, there were some staffing changes. The previous dean of Health and Community Studies had ended her term, so that provided a natural opportunity to think about how the faculty structure was working. The other factor was that the Faculty of Health and Community Studies, as it existed formerly, was a very large organization of programs. For one dean to manage that was, I’m sure, quite challenging. So, from a practical perspective, it made sense to look at creating two faculties—and with the nursing programs being as large as they are, it made sense that that’s where the split would happen.”
Although the faculty name has changed, programming remains the same. MacEwan continues to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Bachelor of Psychiatric Nursing, as well as a broad spectrum of programming in the Centre for Professional Nursing Education and the Clinical Simulation Centre. With strong programming already established, the faculty’s first challenge has been to define priorities for and initiatives within these programs.
“Of course, we’ll continue to offer the same quality programming we always have, but now the challenge is raising our profile as a faculty,” says Salyers. “There are some defining initiatives…that we are working on. The first is interprofessional education. This is really important because nurses in practice don’t function in silos. They work with teams of individuals that are very much interdisciplinary and interprofessional.” Salyers sees this initiative as an opportunity to work with other faculties across the university, including some familiar faces in the Faculty of Health and Community Studies. “The two sides are closer than ever before,” he says. “There’s such synergy between our two faculties, so we look forward to creating opportunities to work together.”
Salyers identifies clinical simulation as another hallmark of the new faculty. “I would also hope that we become leaders in simulation,” he says. “We are doing absolutely great work in that area, so I see us continuing to prioritize that.” Finally, he recognizes MacEwan’s focus on international education as another opportunity: “International is another area that I hope we grow in,” he says. “I think there’s a distinct opportunity, given our institutional mandate, so we’re really looking at some opportunities there.”
According to Salyers, elevating nursing to faculty status provides an invaluable opportunity to become more visible to external stakeholders. “I think it’s been really important to elevate the status of our nursing programs, and moving to a faculty structure will help us achieve that,” he says. “As dean, I can be that voice in the community to raise awareness of our programs in more fulsome ways than was possible under the larger faculty. We’re now better equipped to engage with the community, external stakeholders and the nursing community, not only in Edmonton, but in the province and beyond.”
Though it’s still early days for the Faculty of Nursing, the future looks bright. “We have such talented, incredible faculty and staff across our two departments and our two centres. That is the joy of being in a newly emerging faculty of nursing—they want us to be the best faculty ever, and have the best programming ever. It’s because of the great people across the faculty that I know it’s going to be brilliant as we move along and become the faculty we want to become.”
The Centre for Professional Nursing Education provides continuing education for nurses and health-care professionals.