PhD student who is also a New Grad! So Confused!

  1. 1
    Hello All,

    I am recently finishing up a Entry Level Masters Program and graduating in a few weeks and will be taking the NCLEX really soon. I was very excited to get out there and work, however I received the opportunity to attend a PhD Nursing program, starting this summer, which I accepted because I really enjoy nursing research.

    However, I still have a lot of loans from my ELM program plus I want to get my experience as a new nurse. The PhD program discourages anybody working because of the heavy workload so I wanted to work in a nursing specialty that wouldn't be so stressful and difficult to handle while I am in school for the next four years. I do love Psych and wanted to work in a Psych facility part time, but many people, including current nurses, have discouraged me from this field, saying I won't get my necessary acute care experience and it's a lot more stressful than what it looks. I have a current offer for a rehab position as an RN in a hospital, but I am hesitant because I will be stressed and I am unsure it is the best choice. I am also discouraged to get a job as a case manager because some nurses say I don't have enough experience.

    I am confused at this point and spend several hours on this website, reading posts and debating what I should do. I am sorry for this long post but I would love to have any one's input on what I should do or if I should even attempt to work. Thank you for reading and hope to hear any advice soon.

    Yay for research!!!
    pinkiepieRN likes this.
  2. 25 Comments so far...

  3. 3
    What sort of clinical question will you be researching in your PhD program? I would recommend getting clinical experience in that clinical area so that you can best know where the 'gaps' in knowledge are.
    llg, elkpark, and pinkiepieRN like this.
  4. 3
    My advice would be to delay entry into the PhD program. It will still be there after you've paid off you loans and had some real-world nursing experience. Your research topic will be much more refined and you will have the experience to back up its relevance to practice.
    MBARNBSN, Tinker88, and elkpark like this.
  5. 2
    What is your end-goal? What do you plan on research and what do you want to do with that research once obtained? Do you want to teach? I know this sounds like a million questions, but I want you to think about them for me.

    I'd *love* to get into a nursing research/PhD program. I love qualitative research and both my psych minor and my nursing experience as a psych RN have fueled that fire.

    That said, I wouldn't have had this kind of passion, interest or drive if I'd jumped right into graduate school after finishing my RN/BSN. I know you're in a bit of a different situation with receiving an entry level Master's degree and I think that makes it that much more important that you get the clinical experience before you get the higher degree.

    With hopes of not getting flamed, please tell me that you are interested in the clinical hands-on aspects of nursing. I know that not everyone wants the blood and urine and other bodily fluids, but that *is* a big part of nursing, honestly. Sure one doesn't *have* to work at the bedside to be a nurse, or even a good nurse, but I think bedside nursing is the backbone of the field. I think it's where discovery and innovation, which can fuel change and research, starts.
    Nurse2long and elkpark like this.
  6. 3
    I, too, would delay your entry to the PhD program. If you are such a good student, the opportunity will be there to attend school in the future when you are more ready for it.

    In fact, that is what I did. While I was gettng my MSN in my mid-20's, some of the faculty members thought I should take advantage of the opportunity to enter the schools doctoral program prior to graduating with my MSN. I decided to wait and I am happy I did so. I was not ready to enter at doctoral program at 25 with only 2 years of staff nursing behind me. I practiced as a CNS and Staff Development Specialist for a few years and am glad I waited.
    MBARNBSN, elkpark, and pinkiepieRN like this.
  7. 0
    Thank you everyone for the replies. I am already accepted into the PhD program and have started some of the groundwork, basically I have already started my research proposal and will be looking at factors in longevity with older adults. The reason is that the nursing field wants to push to start accepting more students from when they are younger to get them into doing research, rather than waiting for years doing clinical practice and then going into the program. This is the emphasis of the program. Plus, the PhD program is tuition free for me, which is really great for me.

    My end goal is to teach and also research. I know that I definitely want to do it, but I think I am leaning more to psych nursing because eventually I can teach in that field and my research interests has psychosocial factors embedded into it.

    I am still interested in the clinical practice, but I can absolutely say I can love nursing research. It's so interesting and you help to contribute to nursing practice. My dilemma is that I still want to have clinical experience to be well-rounded.
  8. 2
    Well you already made up your mind and it's your decision on what you do in your life. If you feel you can handle it and feel you have the experience then that's great. I personally plan to work at least 5 years as a RN...maybe even 10 (until I feel I have reached the max experience I want as a RN) before I apply for a masters or doctorate. I want a good solid foundation before I start building. But this is just how I would do it, and everyone is different!
    MBARNBSN and elkpark like this.
  9. 6
    I don't think people should teach nursing who have never practiced as a nurse. I feel the same about researchers. You don't have to get years of experience, but you do need some in order to know the reality of the profession you want to lead. It's that simple.

    Find a way to work at least part time while you go to school ... or you risk never knowing what nursing is really like, what it FEELS like to actually be responsible for patients, etc. Without that "practice knowledge," your "theoretical knowledge" will lack grounding in reality. And when nurses find out that you have never practiced as a nurse, you will have little credibility with them.

    llg, PhD, RN-BC
    Nurse2long, Meriwhen, MBARNBSN, and 3 others like this.
  10. 0
    The point of research is to gather data to test theories. Research findings are disseminated into practice and policy. The best researchers are those who develop theories and data collection methods based on and informed by their knowledge of the practice their research will impact. Get some practice under your belt to create a credible foundation as a researcher.

    Plus, most nurses are bitter, cynical and clever. We will detect your inexperienced, ivory tower dreck a mile away. When I read published research I can SMELL the academic hack who never wiped a butt or flushed a line like rotten fish. Trust me on this one. Go work.
  11. 0
    Lol. I will try to work while I am in school, especially while I am in school. But I do feel like the nursing field and discipline is changing in regards to school. I do respect those who wait. But as other professors explained to us, other careers do not wait for you to have experience until you can go to the next step, and they want to change nursing so that others can apply to higher post-graduate programs with no experience. I have even seen DNP programs that are accepting new grads with no experience. Now that I find to be a little more difficult for those students, but the nursing discipline says they want to change this aspect.

    Now if I didn't get this PhD opportunity, I definitely would have did acute care for a couple of years. But I do feel that I am competent in nursing research more than what it seems. I have presented a couple of conferences for nursing research and have done quite well. I feel that if you are passionate about a certain interest such as nurses building resilience in obese patients, then a person with no nursing experience can do it and produce great evidence because we are researching to find better way for nurses, and usually your previous nursing experience hardly influences your research career.


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