Demystifying PhDs: A Review of Doctorate Programs Designed to Fulfil the Needs of the Next Generation of Nursing Professionals

By Cleary, Michelle; Hunt, Glenn E. | Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession, October 2011 | Go to article overview

Demystifying PhDs: A Review of Doctorate Programs Designed to Fulfil the Needs of the Next Generation of Nursing Professionals


Cleary, Michelle, Hunt, Glenn E., Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession


ABSTRACT

Commonly, the expression 'PhD' evokes a level of trepidation amongst potential candidates from both the clinical and academic spheres. In contemporary settings, a Doctor of Philosophy is highly regarded and increasingly necessary for a successful academic nursing career. The aim of this paper is to explore the options for doctoral education for nurses, and consider the role of the doctorate in career planning for nursing, and in the attainment of career goals. Here we discuss some key issues and practicalities including career planning, selecting a doctoral program, choosing a university, supervision, committees and panels, achieving a work-life balance and dealing with conflict. The PhD process should be an enriching and satisfying experience which may lead to enhanced professional and personal growth; however, there are potential pitfalls that nurses should be aware of before embarking on doctoral training. Future studies are needed to assess the impact of the different doctorates offered to see if, in fact, they are advancing nursing practice and research endeavours.

KEYWORDS: nursing education; postgraduate education; PhD; professional doctorate; career development

INTRODUCTION

For universities internationally, a well regarded Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program that attracts highly qualified, motivated candidates who complete on time is an important quality indicator (American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 2002). However, there are many options for doctoral training and several doctoral programs to choose from. The aim of this paper is to explore the options for doctoral training for nurses, and consider the role of the doctorate in career planning for nursing, and in the attainment of career goals.

PLANNING A CAREER: THE PURSUIT OF LIFELONG LEARNING AND SCHOLARSHIP

A satisfying and successful career in nursing does not happen automatically. It requires careful planning and should be considered a dynamic and deliberate work in process (Shirey, 2009). Career planning is a long-term and continuing endeavour, and when aligned to strength and passions, can provide the professional momentum to achieve desired career goals (Shirey, 2009). Increasingly, doctoral qualifications are necessary for career trajectory, and such a qualification opens and expands career possibilities for nurses. The rapid expansion of research, technology and the requirement for more autonomous practitioners (Davenport, Spath, & Blauvelt, 2009) all support the growing demand for doctoral training - whether practice, education or research focused.

Outside academic settings, nurses are pursuing doctoral studies as employment opportunities become more competitive and higher academic/research qualifications are deemed desirable (if not essential) by prospective employers. However, particularly in relation to the clinical areas, some have questioned the relevance of a PhD and whether this is the best career choice for nurses, or if having a PhD makes for a better clinician or manager (Borbasi & Emden, 2001; Ellis, 2005; Wilkes & Mohan, 2008). Being a manager or clinician involves more than a qualification; leadership and teamwork skills, clinical application of ideas and business acumen are also needed. Research PhDs are focused in a particular area, meaning that graduates become 'experts' in the narrow area of their thesis. Depending on the topic area of the thesis, the expertise gained through the PhD may or may not match the skills required in the clinical workplace (Kirkman, Thompson, Watson, & Stewart, 2007). Notwithstanding these concerns, the attainment of a doctoral qualification affords a range of generic skills which includes demonstrating that a graduate has the ability to organize and see a project through from beginning to end; this in itself is an important demonstration of overcoming problems during their candidature.

In contrast to colleagues from other disciplines, nurses have been relatively slow to pursue doctoral status (Davies & Rolfe, 2009) and this may be due, in part, to dissent within the nursing profession (Brown-Benedict, 2008). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Demystifying PhDs: A Review of Doctorate Programs Designed to Fulfil the Needs of the Next Generation of Nursing Professionals
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.