Background: The Bologna process significantly influenced the change from specialist training in nursing to a master’s degree, as it established the goal of developing an easily readable and comparable degree structure in three cycles, identified as bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, in European higher education. Educational programmes in nursing specialisation in Norway are therefore evolving from nursing specialist training to a Master of Science (MSc) degree.
Aim: To describe the development process from a nursing specialisation education to an MSc degree at the Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The paper discusses opportunities and challenges that may be of interest to other educational systems that want to replicate UiT’s experiences with changing education in a nursing specialisation to an MSc degree.
Methods: The process of developing the nursing specialisation education at UiT into an MSc degree can be retrospectively described as working from a model inspired by action research as understood by Coghlan and Brannick’s four cycles of constructing, planning, taking action and evaluating action. The process lasted for more than three years, from construction in the beginning of February 2015 to the first enrolment of students in August 2018.
Results: The result is a master’s programme in nursing, corresponding to 120 European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS) credits, with six nursing specialisation lines with shared courses and staff: anaesthesia nursing, paediatric nursing, intensive care nursing, cancer nursing, operating room nursing and general nursing (GN). Challenges associated with ensuring a sufficient academic level balanced with a sufficient level of practical training are identified and discussed.
Conclusions: An “umbrella” MSc programme in nursing offers opportunities for shared courses and staff to provide students with a high level of academic and practical skills. There is a need to evaluate the programme to examine whether this method of organising an MSc programme in nursing enhances academic as well as practical nursing skills. Keywords: Education; Master’s degree programme; Nursing specialisation