A PhD in any context is one of the highest forms of further education any professional can undertake. It is heavily centered around research and enhancing the chosen field, and with it comes a degree of responsibility and expertise. For nurses, there is a big focus on improving the research regarding healthcare and everything that entails from policies to patient practices. It can open doors to careers previously unavailable, and it can help make a real impact on the world of nursing and the wider medical scope within that.
PhD In Nursing: The Facts
So, what is a PhD in nursing? Firstly, it is a post graduate qualification which means if you want one, you have to have at least a Bachelor’s and possibly a Master’s level qualification too. You would also be required to have passed the NCLEX-RN exam.
The length of study varies between four and six years typically, and there has to be a big investment in medical research as a part of the course of study. There is no clear-cut curriculum in the sense that the process is widely guided by research initiatives from start to finish. There will be focuses on scientific research, data and statistics, and healthcare principles. You may see modules like:
- Team Leadership Research
- Quantitative Methods in Advanced Research
- Qualitative Methods in Advanced Research
- Health Policies (Advanced)
What Does a PhD Mean For a Qualified Nurse?
If a PhD nurse becomes fully qualified, they are at the peak of their career. This is the top level thereabouts and it opens up a vast array of professional portals for them. They may go on to do any of the following:
- Perform independent research in a healthcare niche.
- Carry out scientific research alongside fellow scientists and professionals.
- Train and supervise in laboratories.
- Train and supervise nurses.
- Continue with their professional development and QA for their findings.
- Teach future nurses how to nurse properly.
- Review the performance of healthcare faculty members.
- Repair and renew the curriculum.
What Are the Benefits?
Why do people pursue the PhD in Nursing route at all, then? There are some pretty core reasons why this is a viable option if your heart is in it. It has to be something you really want to do because it requires resilience and focus, alongside motivation to carry on.
Contributing and Developing Field Knowledge
Medicine has come a long way over the course of history. Arguably, a lot of these changes and advancements have been for the better. We have more capable medicine, better machinery and diagnostic tools, and the collective medical knowledge gets bigger every year. That is why doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals are constantly learning and training. There is always room to grow, and our picture of medicine now will look completely different in fifty years’ time. Being a part of that change will be amazing, and you are giving yourself that option by pursuing this further education.
Shaping the Future of Healthcare in Policy and Practice
This is a prestigious title, there is no doubt about it. You, therefore, are in a position to shape the future of healthcare in policy and practice firstly through your research during your PhD journey, but further to this if you choose to continue down this path after the fact. Researching can take you in plenty of directions from medical labs to a theoretical approach as well. Here is where real change can be made and your research may even shape government policy to enhance the efficacy of the country’s healthcare too. There can only be changes if someone is putting the work in to make it happen, after all.
Enhance Your Own Career Trajectory
As a PhD nurse, you can work anywhere you want to within your chosen field of expertise. If you want to teach, go teach. If you want to supervise clinical environments, you are absolutely qualified to do so. There are plenty of environments where you could put this expertise into practice including hospitals, universities, medical labs, research facilities, and even the government. Therefore, given the status of the qualification, you have officially enhanced your career trajectory and prospects. A post-grad qualification in nursing is not something that potential employers take lightly. It is held in high esteem, as it should be.
Become the Expert Voice in Teaching
If you want to, you could go down the path of teaching. This is typically in a university setting, but it could also be on a fundamentally practical level within a hospital setting or somewhere similar. As a PhD nurse, you are entirely capable of guiding and supervising fellow nurses within these environments. Teaching also means you can have a more flexible schedule, and in some cases a higher salary too. Arguably one of the most tiring parts of being a nurse is the long hours and irregular shift patterns, so this can only be viewed as advantageous.
Is a PhD Equal to DNP?
A DNP is a similar terminal degree qualification in the field of nursing. There is one clear difference, however, between the two agendas. A DNP is very much centered around all the aspects of practical nursing. These roles will take you to hospitals and other medical settings where you will put your expertise into leadership and action. A PhD is very much pulling in a different direction, with a big focus on research instead of practical. Though you can still do practical nursing, there is a different expectation here of research and enhancement in a different way.
A PhD in Nursing is a respectable qualification when all is said and done. Not only have you opened a hundred doors for yourself with regard to your personal career path, but you are in a niche position of being able to positively impact and develop general healthcare policies. There is always room and a call for further research in a variety of medical fields, so if you have the brain power and the motivation, then you should follow your heart and see it through.