interested in PhD...but where to start

  1. I posted a similar question under career advice, but after reading the response I realize that I wasn't specific enough. So, I thought as I am interested in becoming an instructor, this might actually be a very good place to pose this question, but I will be specific.

    I am a BSN prepared nurse with only 4 yrs of experience (second career). In my 4 yrs, I have one in ICU and 3 in ED in level one tramua center. I now am employed by a French NGO and work primarily in Africa doing relief work. I do not specifically do nursing at this point, most of my time is spent doing some sort of management and instruction to local staff regarding their nursing care. I found that I really enjoy working in this way, and its nice to see people develop new skills and insights and make connections. With this in mind, I decided to look into a PhD with the specific goal of teaching, and doing research on international health and nursing. I have excellent grades and GRE scores so I think there is no problem to be accepted into a program. I have found about 10 programs that do not require Master's level work first. As I was browsing I noted that many of the nursing professors have rather than a PhD, an EdD. which I assume is a doctorate in education. Should I be looking at a Doctorate in Education rather than a PhD in Nursing? Can someone explain the benefits and the differences?
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  2. 11 Comments

  3. by   llg
    Quote from KatieBell
    . As I was browsing I noted that many of the nursing professors have rather than a PhD, an EdD. which I assume is a doctorate in education. Should I be looking at a Doctorate in Education rather than a PhD in Nursing? Can someone explain the benefits and the differences?
    There was no such thing as a PhD in nursing until the 1970's ... and even during the 1980's and 1990's, there were very few programs. Nurses wanting a doctoral degree had to get them in other fields because nursing doctorates were not readily available.

    Many nurses also choose to get a doctoral degree in Education because they may have families that don't want to move to another state so that "Mom" can go back to school, etc. EdD degree programs are very common as they were originally developed by the Education profession to prepare school administrators and school teachers are generally well-supported and encouraged to get graduate degrees. (Both of my brothers-in-law have EdD's and they worked for the public school system as administrators.)

    The EdD is a degree within the discipline of education. It is designed for people who are professional educators. There is nothing wrong with that degree ... But if you never get a graduate degree in nursing, your level of education within the nursing discipline will always be that of a "beginner-level nurse." You will never have received an advanced nursing education.

    Because of the faculty shortage, the ability of people with graduate degrees in fields other than nursing to get jobs teaching nursing will probably continue indefinitely ... but it is not optimal and some universities limit the number of faculty that they will hire who do not have advanced degrees in that discipline. One of the signs of a mature academic discipline is that its leaders and professors have advanced education in that discipline.

    So ... what should you do? It depends on how important nursing is to you. If you want to be an expert nurse, then get your degrees in nursing. If you just want to teach and don't care that the lack of any advanced education in nursing will put a few constraints on your career, then maybe the EdD would work for you. You might only be allowed to teach undergrads and/or might be limited from teaching at certain schools.

    One thing to think about ... Most of those nursing faculty members with EdD's probably have Master's Degrees in Nursing.

    llg
  4. by   KatieBell
    THANK YOU!!! That was a very clear answer and I see now why I keep seeing these degrees, most of them were the older faculty. With so many good Nursing PhD programs, why would I want to get the EdD...
    I'm looking at University of Colorado as they have distance learning, but also at Columbia, because they have one prof doing the kind of research I want to do....
  5. by   llg
    I got my PhD at the University of Colorado (UCHSC) in 1997. They have a long tradition of having a highly ranked program. Also, historically, they have been very open to students and ideas who don't fit the "traditional mold" and were among the first schools to experiment with online courses, etc. I might be a very good fit for you.

    Good luck with whatever you decide. I'm glad I was a able to help.

    llg
  6. by   KatieBell
    After doing a bit more research and speaking to the schools, I think I have found a fabulous match. I am shocked and amazed and thrilled all at the same time. But, I have a silly career advice type question. The dean of a particular school (The one I want) took quite some time to speak with me yesterday, and I would like to send her a thank you. Normally, for an interview a handwritten thank you note is considered most acceptable and appropriate, but since this was not a scheduled interview, or talk, she just happened to pick up the phone. Would it be too formal to send a handwritten note? Should I send email? We had conversation for approximately 45 minutes....
    Thanks for the advices, I honestly do not know where to go with this one...
  7. by   llg
    I think that either a hand-written note or an e-mail would be appropriate. However, I would probably choose the hand-written note -- unless you have been communicating with her regularly via e-mail. If you have had very limited contacts with her in the past, I would go with the more traditional, more formal hand-written version.

    I am happy to read that things are working out for you.

    llg
  8. by   KatieBell
    Thanks! You are a great resource on this site! I sent off my handwritten note today. My only thought was that it would not be as direct. Now, I just have to hope that I get an acceptance and that the funding works the way it should in theory....
    Right now I am in a happy little bubble, BUT, like most bubbles, it will probably burst at some point along the way...
  9. by   KatieBell
    Ok, Sooo excited, I just had to report back that I was indeed accepted in the Doctorate program at Columbia!!!
    :hatparty: :hatparty:
    Now, I just have to find a place to live that is relatively safe
  10. by   talaxandra
    Congratulations, and good luck!
  11. by   llg
    Congratulations! That's great news. I'm glad you chose to share it with us. Keep us posted on how you're doing and ... please don't hesitate to ask if there is anything I can help you will.

    Good luck. I loved my PhD program. It was a great experience for me.

    llg
  12. by   VickyRN
    Quote from katiebell
    ok, sooo excited, i just had to report back that i was indeed accepted in the doctorate program at columbia!!!
    :hatparty: :hatparty:
    now, i just have to find a place to live that is relatively safe
    congratulations!!!! best wishes for a wonderful career
  13. by   doliveri
    Katie,
    You might want to look into Indiana University School of Nursing, they have an online PhD program. They have an excellent reputation!
    Good luck
    Dee

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