august 31, 2005
sdsu kicks off state's only doctorate in nursing program
in spring 2008, the college of nursing at south dakota state university will make history when it graduates the state's first doctorate in nursing class.
it's a milestone that sandra bunkers is looking forward to with great anticipation after 26 years in education.
"i came here for this reason," said bunkers, the new head of graduate nursing and project director of the doctoral program. "i'm really excited about this and the faculty as a whole is excited. it's the goal of the college to develop a really strong ph.d. program for this area."
the college will hold an inaugural gala celebration of the ph.d. program in nursing sept. 15 at the performing arts center at 6:30 p.m. the gathering is designed for the doctoral students, the board of regents and selected guests.
bunkers, who taught in the doctoral program at marquette university and was chair of the department of nursing at augustana college before coming to sdsu, is also responsible with the management of a $753,622 federal grant the college received july 1.
the grant, which is spread out over three years, was awarded from the health resources and services administration in the department of health and human services.
"what the grant does is it gives us a good launching pad to start the program," said bunkers. "it will help pay for faculty salaries, supplies, travel and for consultants to come in. after that we will be self-supporting through tuition and fees."
orientation for the first cohort of ph.d. students was august 25-26 with classes officially starting sept. 16. most of the coursework will be in the health science center at usdsu in sioux falls. some classes will be at sdsu and the university of south dakota.
open to south dakota nurses and faculty with master's degrees, the curriculum is three years in length; however, students may stretch out the time frame depending on their circumstances.
bunkers interviewed each of the 13 students accepted into the program, and she serves as their advisor. she called them "quite interesting," coming from the four-state region of minnesota, iowa, north dakota and south dakota.
"some are teachers and some are administrators in service organizations," she said. "some see this as a way to improve their position, and for others it's faculty who want to stay in teaching and know that a terminal degree is needed for that."
associate professors and professors teaching in the master's program will teach the doctoral curriculum, which consists of seven core courses and two electives. sixty credit hours are required for the degree.
in the end the ph.d. program will prepare candidates as nurse scientists who will serve as researchers, faculty members and health-care administrators.
they will be educated to develop proposals to study, analyze and solve problems in health care. specifically, the focus will be health promotion and disease prevention with underserved populations in rural south dakota.
"we're going to stress nurses becoming scholars and emphasize how important it is to have nursing research in education and theory development," bunkers said. "looking at how we can improve life in the rural areas of the state will be especially important.
"nurse scientists work in academic and clinical settings developing knowledge that is essential for the practice of nursing," she added. "nursing knowledge development shapes the future of nursing practice, education and increases the effectiveness of care provided to clients."
program info: phd in nursing