More registered nurses advance their careers through education A desire to advance nursing skills and knowledge is driving registered nurses to further their careers through education, according to Agnes Tiwari, associate professor at the University of Hong Kong's (HKU) department of nursing studies, and programme director for its master of nursing course. 'Since starting the master's programme in 1999, we have found that there are more registered nurses applying for it and wanting to study further,' Professor Tiwari said. 'Improving their knowledge, particularly in research and in the theory of nursing, helps them to advance their careers.' Student enrolment for the master's programme has remained constant - between 25 and 30 each year - which Professor Tiwari said was remarkable given reports of short-staffing in hospitals and a lack of time to study. 'I think that nurses have realised the need to keep improving their knowledge and qualifications in order to advance their careers,' she said. 'In that respect I think we are following world trends.' The HKU's master's programme is a generic nursing qualification and has four streams - advanced practice, health policy development planning, public health and paediatric nursing. Students in the part-time two-year programme study 10 taught courses and write a dissertation. Janet Wong is a 2006 graduate of the master's programme and works as a clinical instructor in HKU's department of nursing studies while also working towards a PhD in nursing. 'I chose to study the master of nursing at HKU because I graduated here with a bachelor's degree in nursing,' she said. 'The programme integrates theory and research, and clinical practice. I chose subjects related to nursing management and public health. I particularly liked the philosophy and science of nursing, which really broadened my horizons and made me think differently about what nursing really is.' This year will see a continued focus on translational research, an element that was added to the master's programme in 2006. In addition to collecting data and researching, students are required to demonstrate skills in translating their research evidence for clinical practice. 'Last year our first [group] that did translational research completed the programme and we had a 100 per cent success rate, which we were very pleased with,' Professor Tiwari said. 'If you look at the state of health care, not just in Hong Kong but worldwide, the technology and sciences are advancing fast. As nurses and health-care professionals we cannot afford to stand still. We have to keep up-to-date with the constant changes and advances. There are other ways of improving oneself but one way is to do a master of nursing. It's only a beginning but it's an important beginning.'