As UCalgary Nursing’s graduate certificate program has grown, more and more baccalaureate alumni have returned to their alma mater sooner rather than later to advance their nursing knowledge.
Case in point: David Shao, BN’18, MN'23, who, after only two years out from graduation, decided to come back to the faculty to pursue a master’s degree. He is one of 46 Master of Nursing (MN) graduates this month.
“I returned home to the Kootenays right after graduation to work in long-term care and then afterward in home and community care as a case manager/home care nurse,” says Shao, who convocated Nov. 16 with his MN.
“I chose to do my grad certificate so soon because I wanted to further expand my knowledge base in the topics of geriatric care as well as leadership and innovation in nursing, two areas that apply to my work and that I am passionate about. And I came back to the University of Calgary as I had familiarity with some of the faculty from my undergraduate studies as well as the standard of education delivered through the university.
"Another factor was the flexibility of the program in allowing me to continue to work in a part-time to full-time manner while pursuing higher education.”
That flexibility has proven to be a key factor when prospective students assess the pros and cons of graduate school. For Shao, now a case manager in home and community care with Vancouver Coastal Health, the autonomy in creating his own work schedule, paired with online courses, made the decision much easier.
“I have a great day-to-day work life: currently I typically work office hours Monday to Friday and the work I do can vary depending on the needs of my clients/families.”
Networking with colleagues throughout Canada was also an incentive for Shao, whose experience as a member of the Undergraduate Nursing Society and other peer-led opportunities were some of his best undergrad memories.
“A specific highlight was attending the Canadian Nursing Student Association conference: it helped me grow as a developing nurse and ultimately gave me better direction and understanding of my nursing practice and philosophy.
"[During the grad certificate], networking opportunities with other peers/colleagues throughout Canada allowed me to have further insight beyond my local geographical professional circle. I could see my master’s degree opening career opportunities in the future in roles of advanced practice or leadership within my organization."
“Growing my knowledge base has introduced me to areas of practice in nursing and health care that I would be interested in pursuing as a career,” Shao adds.
“My future goals would be to continue to grow within my current practice and community of care to explore other opportunities in my organization, eventually working within roles of qualitative improvement and or operational leadership.”