What options are there for nurses with a phd? I am looking into a BSN-PHD program, and it seems like something that is really interesting. I don't want to work as a floor nurse for long, actually I don't want to work as a floor nurse at all. So that's why I'm thinking the BSN-PHD program is a good idea for me. I have heard with a phd you can teach, do research, basically the sky's the limit. Can anyone give me more specific things one can do with a PHD?
Jul 13, '06
by llg, BSN, MSN, PhD Guide
Hmmmm.... It's hard to know what to say about that because the whole BSN-PhD option is still new. The jobs currently available for PhD's all require that the person also have actual experience in nursing -- so, it's hard to say what opportunities will be out there in 5 or 10 years for people with the academic degree but no actual experience in the field.
While I support the development of the BSN-PhD option, I hope that the discipline retains realistic expectations of recent graduates of such programs. In most fields, people who go directly into PhD programs start their academic careers at the lowest rungs on the academic career ladder. For example, they might do a post doc research fellowship and/or work as an Assistant Professor at a university. Such jobs pay less than what a typical staff nurse would make. That's important to remember. It's only after those PhD's get a few years of experience AFTER they graduate that they move into Associate Professor and Professor positions, which pay better.
In the practice arena, clinical experience is even more important for advancement into higher level (and higher paid) positions. No experienced nurses wants to be "led" or "taught" by someone who has never actually practiced nursing.
If the BSN-PhD programs foster realistic expectations, I think it can work. The students can get "real world" experience as part of their academic program and/or by working part time as a nurse while in school. Then, after graduation, the new PhD could qualify for a mid-level position in education, staff development, administration, research, etc. With a few more years of experience, that person would be ready to advance into higher level positions of leadership.
I did it the conventional way: BSN, 2 years as a staff nurse, MSN, 10 years as a CNS/staff development instructor, PhD.
I now work for a hospital focusing on special projects supporting our nursing resources. I monitor our recruitment and retention, serve as liaison with our local schools of nursing, run our nursing student extern program, teach a few classes, assist/advise the VP for Nursing, and do a little research. The job requires that I have an advanced education -- but it also builds on my many years of experience actually working in hospitals and understanding how nursing is actually practiced in real life.
Good luck to you.
Last edit by llg on Jul 14, '06