What sort of possibilities are there with a PhD?

  1. Just out of curiosity I was reading up on PhD programs that are outside of patient care. While I'm currently working on my FNP degree I wondered what I could do with a PhD and which one to choose. There are Health Admin and Business doctorate programs, but would someone be "stuck" working long hours behind a desk? Maybe I'm just not seeing the whole picture. What sort of options would a FNP have by earning a PhD?
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   llg
    1. Teaching -- either in an undergraduate program or in a graduate program of nursing. The PhD gets you a higher academic rank, higher salary, etc. as well as the ability to teach graduate level students

    2. You might be able to get a better contract/pay as an FNP with a PhD. I had a friend who was "promoted" when she got her PhD and treated more as a partner in the medical practice than the other FNP's

    3. You might be able to find a research position working for a research center or company that does a lot of research and that wants nursing expertise as part of their research team.

    I am not a NP, but have a PhD and work in a hospital in a role that combines Staff Development and Program Development, Management, etc. I develop new programs related to our nursing workforce, explore new ideas, etc.
  4. by   yellow finch
    Thanks for the input! Those are not options I thought of (aside from teaching)!
  5. by   llg
    You're welcome. I think it is a mistake to go into a PhD program because you think it will lead to a specific job opportunity -- unless you are interested in teaching in an academic setting, where PhD's are common and expected.

    Because there are so few nurses outside of academia who hold PhD's, there aren't many existing slots for us. Most positions are ones that have developed as enhancements from roles that were previously held by Master's prepared folks. Because hospitals and other employers have never been able to count on having a ready supply of doctorally prepared nurses, they haven't designed jobs that require. However, they are sometimes happy to have one around and may willing to negotiate with one to take an MSN required position and enhance it a bit. That's what happened with me.

    Another VERY ATTRACTIVE possibility I forgot to mention is the fact that many of the larger hospitals and academic centers are creating positions for doctorally prepared nurses to head their nursing research efforts. Magnet hospitals are required to show activity in research utilization and the conduct of research -- a requirement that is stimulating some hospitals to hire someone to lead those efforts educated at the doctoral level.

    Also, with the growing faculty shortage, more and more partnerships are developing between hospitals and schools. There may well be new opportunities in the upcoming years for people who can have a joint appointment and work for both a school and a hospital.

    I believe it's best to get a PhD for yourself -- for the inner motivation of wanting it. The job opportunities are not as definite at that level and you really can't count on anything specific. That's different from a person who gets that entry-level degree who can count on there being staff nurse jobs available if they are prepared to be a little flexible. But if it satisfies an inner need that you have, then go for it and trust that you will be able to find a reasonable job afterwards -- maybe not right away -- and maybe not the job you expected -- but something will turn up that you can develop into something that will suit you.

    .... And perhaps most important ... Don't expect a PhD to get you a big boost in income. Many PhD's do not earn more money than people with less education. I do not make any more money in my current position than I would have made if I had come to it with only and MSN. However, my PhD has given me a few extra perks and priveleges.
    Last edit by llg on Feb 14, '07

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