Thóra B. Hafsteinsdóttir RN PhD, University Medical Center Utrecht
Nursing continues to be the largest health profession in the world. The global nursing workforce in 2019-2020 includes 27.9 million nurses, which accounts for 50% of the health care workforce (1,2). Therefore, for national health care in countries globally, there is a pressing need to ensure that nursing education, including Bachelor Master and PhD nursing education) and nursing science is of the highest standard.
The good news is that worldwide the number of doctoral nursing education programmes has been increasing (3). In 2017 370 nursing doctoral programs were offered in 34 countries (4). Increasing the number of doctoral education programmes in nursing is however, not enough. It is highly important to secure high quality/standards of doctoral education to improve scholarly preparation of doctoral nursing students (e.g. PhD students) with continuous quality monitoring (5). The quality of European doctoral education has generally been improved by establishing a culture of quality within universities, that engage university management, staff/faculty (teachers), and students to focus on aspects like accountability, quality enhancement (6). The European University Association reported that the doctoral programmes in most institutions were evaluated by an internal system (88%) or external agency (61%) (7). Thereby, not only is important to establish high-quality doctoral nursing programmes, but also is it highly important to secure continuous quality evaluation of the existing programmes (8,9). These are important imperatives for the advancement of the nursing profession.
Among factors associated with improved quality in doctoral nursing programmes, include supportive academic learning environments, teachers who provide optimal supervision and support to students and are active scientists and leaders in their fields of expertise or area of research, and the availability of resources (including finances, books, computers, internet e.d.) (10-14). Moreover, doctoral nursing programmes need to be staffed with doctorally prepared nursing teachers who can provide high-quality mentorship to prepare the next generation of nurse scientists (9). Teachers who provide mentorship to students significantly influence students’ decision to pursue academic careers (15). Further, studies have shown that the curriculum, academic personnel, and academic environment are major factors affecting the quality of doctoral nursing education (16). Thus continuing evaluation and monitoring of doctoral nursing programmes are highly important to supporting their long-term success (13, 16).
The AccelEd WP2.4. has been working on different elements to improve Master and PhD nursing education in Kazakhstan Medical Universities.
In the first Masterclass activities were conducted to benchmark best international practices in management of nursing science departments, PhD nursing education in nursing and the procedures and assessment criteria for Masters and PhD theses in nursing within medical universities in Kazakhstan. A survey questionnaire was conducted with partners to define the baseline situation of Master and PhD nursing education in Kazakhstan. Best practices from European partners were presented and discussed. Based on the findings and discussions in working groups, 22 draft recommendations were developed, discussed and further edited resulting in 12 recommendations divided into the three following content areas:
A. Management structure, finances and staffing: Five recommendations emphasize the importance of having independent nursing science departments with Bachelor, Master and PhD nursing educational programmes including own budget and staff; that a PhD degree should be the minimum qualification for management of nursing science department and that more grant funding is needed for nursing science departments.
B. Procedures/assessment criteria for Master’s and PhD theses: Four recommendations emphasize the need to improve the procedures and assessment of Master’s and PhD theses; the establishment of Nursing Dissertation Councils for nursing science departments and involvement of international experts in the assessment of PhD theses. C. National and International collaboration in PhD education: Three recommendations emphasize the establishment of national network between professors/teachers in nursing science and a shared doctoral education programme for PhD students; international collaboration in research and education with involvement/support of national/international nursing organizations.
The second Masterclass, focused on developing criteria for the assessment of Master and PhD nursing thesis with participants including teachers, senior staff, Master’s and PhD students of Nursing Science departments, because of their expertise and the importance for successful implementation. As preparation, Kazakhstan Orders for Master and PhD education were explored; the evidence from the literature was reviewed and international best practices presented and discussed. Based on the literature, the method for the development of the assessment criteria was established (17,18) and as recommended by the literature, the form of analytical rubric was chosen (18).The content description of behaviours, including skills and competencies in conducting and reporting Masters and PhD research was based on the evidence from the literature and best international practices in the assessment of the quality of research. Because the content areas of Masters and PhD thesis international are in line with content areas of scientific articles, it was decided to adhere to the well-known IMRaD structure for scientific publications (Introduction, Methods, Results and Discussion)(19, 20).
However, due to the fact that the content areas of Master and PhD thesis as is taught in Kazakhstan at the moment are different than content areas of Master and PhD thesis international and not in line with the IMRaD structure, it was decided to develop short term versions of assessment criteria for Master and PhD thesis, which are in line with the Master and PhD thesis in Kazakhstan today. Also, Master and PhD thesis assessment criteria for the long term were developed which are in line with content areas of the Master and PhD thesis international.
The short term assessment criteria for Master and PhD thesis can be put into use in right at the end of the project. The long term assessment critera do require changes in teaching students in the different content areas of the Master and PhD thesis, in line with international IMRaD structure for scientific papers (19,20).
At the moment further work continues on establishing guidelines for the procedures of the assessment of Master and PhD thesis. This also includes the preparation of the third Masterclass on the establishment of Research Committees and their role in the assessment of Master and PhD thesis. Thereby the outcome of earlier masterclasses will be combined and integrated into thorough quality assurance system for the assessment of Master and PhD nursing thesis in higher education in Kazakhstan.
This work however, only addresses limited range of aspects supporting teachers and students in Master and PhD nursing education. More work is required to address different areas including continuous evaluation of Master’s and PhD nursing education by students and teachers, creating supportive academic learning environments for students, supporting teachers in providing optimal supervision and mentoring to students and providing optimal resources for both teachers and students to develop as scientists, practitioners and leaders in nursing and health care.
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19) Sollaci, L.B., Pereira, M.G.: The Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion (IMRAD) Structure: a Fifty-year Survey. Journal of the Medical Library Association 92(3), 364 (2004) 20) Bertin, M., Atanassova, I., Lariviere, V., Gingras, Y.: The Distribution of Refer-ences in Scientiﬁc Papers: an Analysis of the IMRaD Structure. In: Proceeding of14th International Society of Scientometrics and Informetrics Conference. Inter-national Society for Informetrics and Scientometrics, Vienna, Austria (15th-19 july 2013).
Jūratė Macijauskienė, project coordinator
Živilė Kepežinskienė, project manager
Dinara Kozhakhmetova, responsible for WP4 Dissemination
Baituganova Aizhan, responsible for WP4 Dissemination