There is debate within the nursing profession in regard to determining the best approach to leadership development for the new millennium. Should nursing adopt career pathways like other disciplines that enable individuals to develop leadership potential in a timely fashion? St. Francis Xavier University (StFXU), the number one ranked undergraduate school in the country (DeMont 2002), has established an innovative strategy that promotes leadership development at the undergraduate level. It has launched a special stream of its BScN program that culminates in an honours degree. The program, the first of its type in Canada, is designed to produce nursing leaders and scholars who will possess the core competencies required for leadership in diverse environments. This paper discusses the role of honours education in nursing, describes the curriculum and related learning activities in the StFXU honours program and explores the benefits and challenges that an honours program has to offer. The findings will benefit nurse leaders in educational and practice settings, professional organizations and policy arenas who are interested in influencing the development of leadership in nursing.
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