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October 15, 2015

Building A Brighter Future For Nursing Ph.D. Students from Abroad

by Rachel Voorhees ’14

In a world where highly skilled nurses are in demand, those with doctoral degrees are especially coveted by healthcare facilities and universities. Michiko Tomura, Keiko Iwama and Gagandeep Kaur, three international students in the Ph.D. in Nursing program, are on their way to becoming leaders in the advancement of nursing practices and education overseas.

After their anticipated graduation in 2018, they plan to return to their respective countries to put research into practice. Iwama, a registered nurse from Japan, said, “Nursing in Japan is very behind. Nurses here are more independent and are allowed to make decisions, but in Japan nurses are just viewed as helpers.”

According to Tomura, a former psychiatric nurse from Japan, doctoral nursing programs in her home country are only 20 credits and have fewer academic resources compared to Adelphi’s 54-credit program. With a background in healthcare education, she wanted a doctoral program with a strong research basis so she could expand her knowledge of ethical issues in psychiatric nursing and become a better-rounded educator for her future students.

“Each of the classes I’ve taken has an in-depth focus and is intellectually stimulating,” she said. “I’m reconstructing my understanding of nursing and seeing the same concepts I learned in Japan in a different way.”

Classes such as Nursing Education and Diverse Learners and Philosophical Foundations of Nursing Science help students to develop the critical thinking skills needed in a nursing career.

“I feel like I’m expanding my vision and reflecting on what I did in Japan as a health educator,” said Tomura. “I’m learning the material as well as how to relate to and inspire students.”

Iwama shared similar sentiments and said that activities like networking with fourth-year students and joining group study sessions have been particularly helpful to her.

“Sometimes my language barrier makes things challenging, but the closeness between classmates and professors makes it much easier,” she said. Iwama, whose research focuses on the use of preceptorships in the clinical setting, plans to develop strategies to improve nursing education programs in Japan.

Professors feel the connection too and welcome feedback from students. Patricia Donohue-Porter, Ph.D., Adelphi’s doctoral program director, said that international students bring a global perspective to the program.

“Our students from other countries come to us with significant clinical expertise, academic experience and leadership in nursing already in place, but have said they hope to learn more about advancing nursing science through research,” she said. “We always give them the idea that we welcome their strengths.”

Offering a concentration in nursing education, the Ph.D. in Nursing program caters to students who are looking to devote their career to education and research.

“An Adelphi Ph.D. is going to bring graduates out ready to collaborate,” Dr. Donohue-Porter said. “I hope that students will bring what they learned at Adelphi to their future roles in nursing and that they continue to expand nursing knowledge in any way they can.”

The College’s Ph.D. in Nursing program offers small class sizes and one-on-one mentoring, ideal for international students who speak English as their second language.

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