David Conroy

I chose ARU for their recognised global standing, their year-on-year improvements in higher education and partnerships with organisations demonstrated their investment in helping students.

David, Director of Health Programs with the Government of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic chose this career focused MSc, to complete his graduate studies, and hone his leadership and management skills.

A few factors veered my decision to undertake the MSc and choose ARU.

Due to my remoteness within the Canadian arctic situated in the territory of Nunavut, I needed something that was distance learning or online-based due to the many logistical challenges.

The ARU MSc encompasses core principles and lets you address your own work challenges by utilising research tools and guides to manage those work scenarios.

The course selection for me was career-focused, along with a personal development goal to complete graduate studies. Within my organisation, I was already employed in a management role; what better time to complete an MSc to increase and home in on my leadership and management skills.

The course and university were ideal with their experience in distance learning eliminating the barriers of in-person attendance and allowing flexible learning.

This vastness and global platform of distance learning enabled sharing with an array of dedicated health disciplines allowing us to learn from each other.

ARU’s recognised global standing, and their year-on-year improvements in higher education and partnership with organisations demonstrated their investment in helping students. In addition, the experienced lecturers with extensive experience in healthcare.

"The personal support and the flexibility and understanding, especially during the difficult COVID times when I was juggling front-line nursing responsibilities and studies were greatly appreciated. I felt treated as a student and a colleague rather than just a university student number."

Degrees designed to benefit you personally and professionally

Overall, this MSc course has given me many personal and professional benefits including acknowledgement via feedback from my leadership and front-line colleagues.

The MSc programme allowed me to reflect and synthesise my current leadership skills from both a clinical and administrative perspective accumulated over many years of vast nursing experience.

It encouraged a more focused and reflective element to my practice enabling me to challenge old habits by acquiring new concepts from within the MSc modules. I have now consolidated my existing experience and set priorities for moving forward personally and professionally.

I’ve noticed a considerable improvement in my decision-making and clinical thinking skills, something that my team, colleagues and front-line staff have also acknowledged. I’ve attained new leadership competencies demonstrating my ability to navigate and address the many complexities within healthcare organisations and my own portfolios.

As part of my continuing professional development, the MSc has tested my areas for improvement and pushed my confidence to take on new challenges. It’s given me the courage, confidence, and tools to challenge restrictive processes and I’ve shifted my mindset "from a manager to leading teams".

Graduating this course was a personal and professional achievement and a reward for my dedication and commitment to an area of practice I am incredibly passionate about.

Overall, it has been a great personal investment which has increased my self-confidence, leadership competencies and my personal and professional development.

Rewarding and immersive experiences

The MSc was initially daunting, overcoming the initial nerves of navigating the world of academia, learning the ARU workings and understanding the support systems. However, after settling in, the course quickly became an obsession. The course stimulated more interest operationally and in personal reflection, e.g. What is my leadership style? What can I do to improve this issue?

Developing my academic and research skills has allowed me to remain more focused operationally and I’ve incorporated and applied them into other projects. The global distance learning focus was invaluable, collaborating with students from different backgrounds and health careers to better understand and learn from international colleagues. I thoroughly enjoyed the global leadership modules as we addressed a global issue collectively.

The work-related focus allowed us to troubleshoot our unique situations in our healthcare settings.

The course has increased my confidence in applying new leadership competencies, theory, decision making and critical thinking in healthcare operations. I have more confidence in applying this new knowledge in challenging existing processes. I am not afraid to play devil's advocate to review and challenge proposals while integrating my newly acquired knowledge and opinions.

The range of academic theories within the MSc course modules now makes sense. It allows me to further my reading in specific topics of interest while advancing my thinking and concepts.

As healthcare has a large jigsaw perspective, this MSc course applies to all practice areas including clinical, administrative, and educational routes. It enhances my decision-making and reviews from many angles and lenses that need consideration and navigation in the puzzle of systems from policy, resources, politics, and people.

This MSc course has increased my critical thinking from siloed approaches to more team focused. The new knowledge highlights the fluidity of healthcare and adaption to constant change, and challenges is more important than ever.

Designed with career progression in mind

I have grown in my leadership roles and advanced within the government organisation, moving from a manager on the front lines to my current role as Director of Health and being invited by the senior teams to act as Executive Director for periods. This experience has recognised my professional growth from the MSc and challenged me.

As part of my continuing professional development, the MSc course has tested my areas for improvement and pushed my confidence to take on new challenges.

The course has professionally given me the courage, confidence, and tools to challenge restrictive processes and encompass my approach, culminating in the mindset "from a manager to leading teams".

I am now actively involved with our organisational territorial committees and active participant, to name a few for instance, The Nursing Leadership Advisory Committee (NLAC), Joint Executive Council (JEC) and Quality Improvement Council Committees (QIC).

Support to achieve the results you want

Overall, the ARU experience has been amazing from my initial contact to the day I graduated. This was also during a COVID-19 challenging time for the university and for healthcare workers on the front lines globally; the understanding and flexibility were so much appreciated.

An overall great experience with ARU from admission to graduation; friendly and attentive, supportive all along, both online and in person.

The distance learning coordinators, tutors, and the module leader were excellent.

Meeting with library staff on distance learning challenges and discussions on navigating the system, they took feedback onboard and made changes online. This again demonstrated a genuineness in supporting my learning.

There was excellent support, understanding and flexibility during COVID as the pressures professionally were overwhelming and to have this understanding and patience from ARU was really appreciated.

Top tips for students

Be realistic and disciplined. Reach out early to the ARU team and especially if issues arise or are on the horizon.

Consider commitments and plan in advance, create a balance as there can be conflicting attention between work, study and personal time. 

See the MSc programme as a speciality course and “not just a course”, this assumption will allow you to get the most out the modules both personally and professionally.

It was scary and daunting initially, a new course, academia requirements, assignment writing, research etc. however, there’s lots of support on hand. Don't be afraid to reach out in a timely fashion.

Remember assignment and submission deadlines, and they are UK submission times. Try not to leave everything to the last minute.

Remember this course is work focused so enhances your work environment and gives you supportive qualifications to compliment your skills and leadership abilities and competencies.

Plan time to navigate the ARU website and resources, including the library as the information is invaluable.

Identify and connect with key players early if issues from mitigation to intermissions might be needed. The earlier you connect, the better.  

If you are a clinician or manager – stay focused and disciplined; you can get caught or dragged in many ways very quickly, and again, time management is paramount. It is all worth it in the end!  

Why ARU?

This was probably one of the most exciting courses I have done professionally. I have completed courses in other higher-level education facilities however, this course content was focused and related to my work environment and stimulated my leadership skills.

The relevant modules and research stepped up my abilities and competencies more while gaining such invaluable knowledge. This has benefited not only myself but my organisation as well.

The distance learning was the ideal programme for me and allowed me to partake in a renowned programme from the remoteness of Nunavut in the Canadian Arctic while collaborating with global classmates.

The personal support and the flexibility and understanding, especially during the difficult COVID times when I was juggling front-line nursing responsibilities and studies were greatly appreciated. I felt treated as a student and a colleague rather than just a university student number.

The ARU staff team were progressive, understanding and attentive during my time and always open to continuous improvement of the programme when feedback was given.

Finally, the support both online and in person was more than expected through various communication methods e.g., Zoom, Teams etc. The course tutors were accommodating and supportive as well as empowering us as leaders to be creative in our assignments.

Overall, I can say I have grown personally and professionally, and my leadership abilities have grown to allow me to navigate the continuing challenging healthcare environment.

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