BSN to PhD Nursing Programs

by VickyRN Asst. Admin

12,406 Views | 11 Comments
  1. 5
    BSN to phd programs offer a more direct path to the phd in nursing, with the aim of increasing the number of doctorally prepared faculty. Nurses with bsns can be prepared for doctoral faculty positions in five short years. These programs are ideal for learners who desire to become nurse scientists and researchers. They bypass the traditional msn degree to encourage younger and more minority and male nurses to pursue the terminal degree in nursing.

    The dwindling number of nurse faculty is a serious impediment to prospective nursing students finding placement in nursing programs. Many have to wait years to get into a program and excellent candidates are turned away every year. The post-baccalaureate entry option offers a unique solution to the critical shortage of nurse faculty.

    BSN to phd programs are streamlined, simultaneously meeting the requirements for the master’s and the phd in nursing science degrees, with a heavy focus on research.

    The aacn lists 150 bsn to phd programs across the united states. Sample programs include the university of kansas and the university of minnesota.

    “historically, nurses [sought] their phd degrees mid career,” explains daniel j. Pesut, phd, rn, cs, faan (associate dean for graduate programs at indiana university school of nursing in indianapolis). “most people recognize that the factor of knowledge development in nursing depends on having [nurse scientists or researchers] who have long career trajectories. Many nurses [earning doctorates later in life] only have a 15-year period where they have a research career and are creating new knowledge.”

    Doctoral education is a research degree: the phd is the highest terminal degree in any field. Graduates are leaders in education, practice, and research, and are entrusted with knowledge development in nursing. Nurse scientists are in a unique position to provide leadership in health care research, bringing clinical expertise and science into these arenas, to create practical solutions to national and global health concerns.

    Critics contend that the bsn to phd “short cut” may produce fledgling nurse faculty with minimal practice experience at the bedside. They argue that taking the traditional stepwise route of msn then phd helps to ensure clinical competence of the faculty. What do you think?


    References

    accelerated baccalaureate to doctoral nursing programs

    bsn to phd sample curriculum

    editorial: bsn-to-phd programs: a bad idea

    a faster path to the phd
    Last edit by Joe V on Feb 3, '13
    lamazeteacher, VivaLasViejas, Joe V, and 2 others like this.
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    VickyRN joined Mar '01 - from 'Under the shadow of His wings...'. VickyRN has '16' year(s) of experience and specializes in 'Gerontological, cardiac, med-surg, peds'. Posts: 12,043 Likes: 6,392; Learn more about VickyRN by visiting their allnursesPage


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    11 Comments so far...

  5. 2
    My opinion is that it can be done well ... and it can be done badly. So it all depends on the individual program and the individual nurse.

    I think that a "good" program will include clinical practice so that the student will get the hands on experience they need to be at least competent in the practice of nursing. Nursing is a practice discipline and it's teachers and researchers need to have at least some experience in the practice of nursing in order to make good judgments about the knowledge and scholarship of the discipline.

    Also, many nurses THINK they want (or are suited for) one specialty when they are undergraduates ... but find out after a little practical experience that their "best fit" lies in another specialty. It would be shame for a student to invest in a PhD only to discover after the fact that the specialty they chose is not a good fit for them. Getting a little experience will help prevent that.

    On the other hand, I don't think nurses need to spend several years in practice before entering a PhD program ... and I don't think that an MSN is a necessary step. A little practical experience either before entering grad school is sufficient for a lot of people to establish competence and to confirm a good fit of specialty choice. Also, programs can be designed to include substantial practice experience in the first couple of years in the program to provide those things.

    But such programs need to be designed differently than most of the current/traditional PhD programs that require that the student have competence in a chosen specialty at the start.
    BBFRN and VickyRN like this.
  6. 0
    Now if only I didn't hate theory and research.
  7. 5
    Quote from SuesquatchRN
    Now if only I didn't hate theory and research.
    Yeah, it's important know what is NOT for you, too.

    Regretably, I see a lot of nursing undergrads spouting grand career plans with very little clue as to what they are getting into. While I respect their ambition, I worry that so many are piling up huge debts in pursuit of careers they will hate. They need to get a little experience under their belt so they can be sure that their dreams actually fit their talents and work preferences. They base so much on unrealistic expectation that they develop from TV, movies, and well-meaning, but misinformed friends and relatives.

    ... and in case there are new readers of this thread who don't know me. I got my BSN at 22, my MSN at 26, and my PhD at 41. So, I know what it is to enter grad school and to start teaching at a young age. I was teaching graduate school at 26.
    julieteh85, sacstate2010, BBFRN, and 2 others like this.
  8. 4
    One benefit I find in the BSN-PhD program from the perspective of being a BSN-PhD student, is that we still have our bedside experiences fresh in our minds when we enter the PhD level courses. Of course, I do say this as an experienced nurse. It will be interesting to see if this causes any change in the direction of future nursing theory and research (outside of evidence-based practice, that is).

    I was very afraid of the possibility of falling between the cracks (between practice & research) when I first started my program- that I would be missing vital information needed to succeed at the doctoral education level, in the absence of a prior master's degree. But, a good program offers purposeful and applicable master's level core courses that do prepare you for the transition. As llg stated, I also believe that is the key.

    Another necessity that I feel is key, is in having a strong level of mentorship by experienced nurse researchers at the institution. That is true of both MSN-PhD and BSN-PhD programs, but I think we tend to be more task-oriented at the BSN level than the MSN level students are, so having a mentor that gets that, and is able to help you use that to your advantage in transitioning through the program is invaluable.

    One final thing to note as well, is that as a BSN-PhD applicant, you will be held to a higher standard than your average BSN graduate, in the determination of whether you are accepted into the program or not- in every facet of the application process.

    If you are considering entering this type of program, you really have to do some soul-searching to assure you are doing it for the right reasons, and that this is what you really want. Seek advice from those who have done it, and whose advice you trust.

    It takes a huge commitment, and huge leap of faith in yourself in believing that you are capable of leaving the safety net of using & disseminating knowledge, into actually creating knowledge. It's an entirely different world, but one that is very freeing if you are cut out for it.
    ESH427, indigo girl, NRSKarenRN, and 1 other like this.
  9. 0
    Quote from BBFRN
    One benefit I find in the BSN-PhD program from the perspective of being a BSN-PhD student, is that we still have our bedside experiences fresh in our minds when we enter the PhD level courses. Of course, I do say this as an experienced nurse. It will be interesting to see if this causes any change in the direction of future nursing theory and research (outside of evidence-based practice, that is).

    I was very afraid of the possibility of falling between the cracks (between practice & research) when I first started my program- that I would be missing vital information needed to succeed at the doctoral education level, in the absence of a prior master's degree. But, a good program offers purposeful and applicable master's level core courses that do prepare you for the transition. As llg stated, I also believe that is the key.

    Another necessity that I feel is key, is in having a strong level of mentorship by experienced nurse researchers at the institution. That is true of both MSN-PhD and BSN-PhD programs, but I think we tend to be more task-oriented at the BSN level than the MSN level students are, so having a mentor that gets that, and is able to help you use that to your advantage in transitioning through the program is invaluable.

    One final thing to note as well, is that as a BSN-PhD applicant, you will be held to a higher standard than your average BSN graduate, in the determination of whether you are accepted into the program or not- in every facet of the application process.

    If you are considering entering this type of program, you really have to do some soul-searching to assure you are doing it for the right reasons, and that this is what you really want. Seek advice from those who have done it, and whose advice you trust.

    It takes a huge commitment, and huge leap of faith in yourself in believing that you are capable of leaving the safety net of using & disseminating knowledge, into actually creating knowledge. It's an entirely different world, but one that is very freeing if you are cut out for it.
    Thank you for your contribution to the thread, BBFRN - your perspective is invaluable.

    Are you full time or part time, BBFRN? How long have you been in your BSN-PhD program? How long will it take you to finish?
  10. 1
    Thanks, VickyRN. I started my program last Fall. Year 1 consisted of all master's level core courses. I am currently in year 2 out of 3 for coursework, and am taking all doctoral level courses at this time. I do take a full course load during the Summer, but it's not required. After I complete all doctoral level coursework next year, I will take the qualifying exam etc., and then will begin the dissertation process.
    The goal is to begin collecting pilot data this academic year, and carry that forward into my dissertation, which (if all goes well) will take <1 year to complete. So, I hope to have my PhD by 2011. My mentor is very strategic and trajectory oriented, as well as being a very prolific researcher, so I feel pretty confident I will reach my time line goals.
    For those who are scared of the length of time it takes to complete a program such as this- it goes by extremely fast!
    VickyRN likes this.
  11. 1
    Quote from BBFRN
    Thanks, VickyRN. I started my program last Fall. Year 1 consisted of all master's level core courses. I am currently in year 2 out of 3 for coursework, and am taking all doctoral level courses at this time. I do take a full course load during the Summer, but it's not required. After I complete all doctoral level coursework next year, I will take the qualifying exam etc., and then will begin the dissertation process.
    The goal is to begin collecting pilot data this academic year, and carry that forward into my dissertation, which (if all goes well) will take <1 year to complete. So, I hope to have my PhD by 2011. My mentor is very strategic and trajectory oriented, as well as being a very prolific researcher, so I feel pretty confident I will reach my time line goals.
    For those who are scared of the length of time it takes to complete a program such as this- it goes by extremely fast!
    I am in a traditional PhD nursing program, in that I have a MSN as requirement for entry. Almost everyone enrolled is part-time and also working full time. The average time for completion for my program is 4.5 years. I am now in year # 2. We start out with the basics, rather than immersion in research from the get-go, and will actually begin independent research studies in the spring (the latter part of year # 2 as a part-time student).
    BBFRN likes this.
  12. 1
    Quote from VickyRN
    I am in a traditional PhD nursing program, in that I have a MSN as requirement for entry. Almost everyone enrolled is part-time and also working full time. The average time for completion for my program is 4.5 years. I am now in year # 2. We start out with the basics, rather than immersion in research from the get-go, and will actually begin independent research studies in the spring (the latter part of year # 2 as a part-time student).
    Yes- my program is very flexible regarding independent studies. I have actually started with that earlier than most others in my cohort. My first one was in the summer with my mentor, and was focused on readings of the literature, in which info was gathered to kick start my pilot project, which I am piggy-backing onto one of my mentor's projects. My second one will be in the spring in another dept. with a professor/researcher who is looking at some of the same things I will be, but with a different focus. I will probably end up with several independent studies under my belt from different departments by the time I'm done, because my research focus is so multidisciplinary. All of my electives (3) are required to be taken outside the nursing dept. as well.

    My mentor works quickly, and she multi-tasks a LOT. Because of that, I believe my trajectory is a quicker one than most BSN-PhD students research-wise, so I'm glad you mentioned your timeline.

    For those considering such a program, so much of that does depend on how your program is laid out, and your mentor's goals for you- based on what your plans are, the type of research you plan to do, etc. For instance, if your dissertation research requires that you perform a longitudinal study, you should expect it to take longer than if you were doing cross-sectional study, etc.
    VickyRN likes this.
  13. 1
    How I wish that programs such as you described here were available earlier, and that I found out about them before attaining 70 years of age......
    VickyRN likes this.


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