The Hub National Nursing Week: Expanding nursing knowledge to enhance care

National Nursing Week: Expanding nursing knowledge to enhance care

Nursing is constantly evolving, and so is nursing education.

During National Nursing Week Week, the Faculty of Health Disciplines at Athabasca University is proud to shine the spotlight on some of the many students, alumni, faculty, and researchers who work on the leading edge of nursing knowledge and practice — to improve the health of all Canadians. For more great stories, visit the FHD website.

New opportunities are becoming available for nurses in health care settings across Canada. In order to take advantage of them—and to offer better patient care—practicing nurses must acquire new knowledge that meets changing standards.

A growing collection of professional development courses developed by the Faculty of Health Disciplines is enabling nurses to be a part of this wave of change.

“It’s exciting to have the opportunity to expand the scope of practice for regulated nurses,” says Debbie Fraser, Nurse Practitioner Program Director. “It opens the doors to better client care in specialized areas, and to serve patients more fully.”

Growing professionally

The new online RN Prescribing course, for example, enables practicing registered nurses, psychiatric nurses, and health care professionals to acquire knowledge needed to prescribe drugs and order diagnostic tests. This is currently possible in select areas in Alberta and Manitoba, and likely to expand to other provinces in the future.

The Prescribing course joins two other PD offerings for Nurse Practitioners:

· Adult Mental Health, Mental Illness, and the Approach to Care in Community Settings (comprising two courses that can be taken separately or together)

· Prescription and Management of Controlled Drugs and Substances

“Most Nurse Practitioner programs in Canada do not teach mental health in sufficient depth for the types and numbers of disorders we are seeing in our practices,” explains Donna Clare, Academic Coordinator, of the need for the mental health PD courses. “Nurse Practitioners told us they need more information on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, and on how to support mental health and prevent mental illness. And psychologists, nurses, and social workers tell us they would like more information on the medications their patients are receiving.”

Online PD courses are a key way for nurses to access education that meets today’s knowledge needs—without giving up work and family commitments—and respond to changing patient and community needs.

“Our population is growing older, and we are also being called to provide more complex care,” Fraser notes. “With PD opportunities like this, Athabasca University is on the leading edge of health care education, and enabling practicing professionals to respond to these challenges.”

More information about all FHD PD opportunities at

  • May 8, 2019