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Earning a PhD in Nursing after a JD and MSN

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I am currently a nurse practitioner with a MSN degree. I'm starting a JD program at a top ten law school in the Fall. In the long term, I would like to end up in academia. Having a JD will open doors to legal academia. In many cases a JD and PhD has become the norm for legal academia. My questions is: How will PhD programs in nursing view me having a JD? Will they second guess my desire to pursue a PhD in Nursing after earning a JD?

My goal is to do interdisciplinary health policy research in academia and to also position myself for academic job opportunities in either law or nursing. I would look at health policy or services research issues though the framework of law. For example, how does X law, policy, regulation, etc... affect Y health outcomes or service delivery. Law and nursing is not a traditionally established interdisciplinary route such as compared to law and philosophy or economics. But given the focus of much nursing research on health policy I feel like I can make an adequate case justifying further doctoral education. Plus, I want to develop skill sets in empirical methods that a PhD would provide and would lend themselves to research. Anybody have any insights or know people I should reach out to?

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 44 years experience.

Many, many years ago ... while getting my MSN ... I had the opportunity to transfer into a program that would result in a DNS with a minor in Law. So I can understand the appeal of the pathway you have planned. (I chose against it because I wanted a PhD and not a Doctorate in Nursing Science.)

I'm just not sure it is necessary to complete both degrees to get the types of jobs you imagine. I think most people who have such jobs don't complete both - but complete one or the other (as both are "terminal degrees") and then supplement their knowledge with extra coursework or independent study as needed. But I don't see anything wrong with completing both degrees.

I suggest talking with people who do that sort of work now to get their take on the best type of education to get for those types of jobs.

Good luck to you.

TiffyRN, ADN, BSN, PhD

Specializes in NICU. Has 28 years experience.

One of my PhD professors was/is a JD as well. I don't know which one came first. I know she's tenured and has now moved into the position of director of the PhD program recently. She's taught special topics on biomedical mediation, legal and ethical leadership. I'm sure there is plenty of room for people with JD and nursing PhD.

On 6/9/2020 at 11:00 PM, Carlos Bertin Larrauri said:

I am currently a nurse practitioner with a MSN degree. I'm starting a JD program at a top ten law school in the Fall. In the long term, I would like to end up in academia. Having a JD will open doors to legal academia. In many cases a JD and PhD has become the norm for legal academia. My questions is: How will PhD programs in nursing view me having a JD? Will they second guess my desire to pursue a PhD in Nursing after earning a JD?

 My goal is to do interdisciplinary health policy research in academia and to also position myself for academic job opportunities in either law or nursing. I would look at health policy or services research issues though the framework of law. For example, how does X law, policy, regulation, etc... affect Y health outcomes or service delivery. Law and nursing is not a traditionally established interdisciplinary route such as compared to law and philosophy or economics. But given the focus of much nursing research on health policy I feel like I can make an adequate case justifying further doctoral education. Plus, I want to develop skill sets in empirical methods that a PhD would provide and would lend themselves to research. Anybody have any insights or know people I should reach out to?

I normally tell someone to follow their dreams, but the route you have charted doesn't make any sense. I will put a caveat that if you have a full ride or mostly full ride to a top 10 law school then you should absolutely take it. Otherwise the reason that you get a JD is to practice law. If you want to engage in health policy or services research through the framework of law there are many other ways to do this including nursing, public health and even economics. All of those degrees can be tailored to look at health policy through the law.

If you don't want to practice law but want a better understanding of legal issues a Juris Master (JM) or Master of Studies in Law (MSL) will give you understanding of the law and can be tailored to health specifically. There are a number of institutions that offer combined PhD/JM or DPH/JM degrees that would get let you understand the law and also give you the research skills to for academic pursuits.

The biggest issue with the JD is cost. Any of the top ten programs are going to be north of $50,000 and with fees and tuition you are looking at around $240,000 for your JD. If you do a PhD afterwards then you are deferring interest and its not like academic health policy jobs are going to pay enough to pay off that loan.

A JD is a professional doctorate. You learn research skills in finding and understanding case law. In addition you learn how to write very well. All of these skills come in handy but there are ways to learn them without spending a quarter million dollars. A JD does not prepare you for academics. Generally law school academics will have a second degree in their area of expertise or increasingly a PhD in Law.

If you want to practice law go for it. You have been given a golden ticket. An NP from a top 10 law school can pretty much write their ticket in malpractice, healthcare or compliance law (assuming you finish out of the bottom 10%). There are people that end up in healthcare policy or academia with a JD but they usually arrived there after being dissatisfied with law or by going a much cheaper route through law school.

Hi Carlos,

I’m actually very interested in this. Do you mind me asking which schools you applied to and where you will be going? Are you getting funding or loans? Did you take LSAT or was it required? I am contemplating looking into JD in health law and hope to work in forensics or with insurance companies.

I have MSN/MPH and currently practicing as a FNP AND PMHNP

Thanks

Hello,

I applied to numerous schools but I will be attending the University of Michigan. I was between Michigan (an elite top 10 school on a a partial scholarship) or a full-ride at strong regional/local schools (University of Florida and University of Miami). I decided to go with Michigan because the careers opportunities available from a school of that caliber such as big law, clerkships, academia, etc... are not typically as available or as accessible from many regional/local schools.

They gave me a little less then a 1/3rd off (60k). I am coming in with another 1/3rd in savings and hoping to finance the rest or pay as I go while working through law school. I don't think I will incur major debt this way but there is no way around the opportunity cost of not working full-time for a couple years at my current earning potential as a PMHNP.

The LSAT is basically required although you can also apply with the GRE. I recommend the LSAT because it is still the gold standard and was especially critical for someone like me with a low GPA (a 3.29 as calculated for law school purposes).

The test is hard... harder then the NCLEX-RN... harder than the ANCC boards... I studied for close to a year and did like 70 practice LSATs but got a 98th percentile score. It just depends on how much work you want to put in to the get score/outcome you desired. I took it after 4-5 months of study and was able to get 97th percentile. That last 1% bump took a long time. I also requested accommodations for a legitimate medical condition I have which helped take some of the pressure off and level the playing field during the high stakes testing. Every LSAT point counts significantly towards more scholarship money or better law school opportunities. If you want to learn more about applying to law schools. You can start casually browsing Reddit forums such as LSAT and Lawschooladmissions.

Medical Malpractice defense work is essentially working for insurance companies and pays well. Medical Malpractice small-firm/solo-practitioners average 270k per year according to the following salary reports (https://www.martindale-avvo.com/wp-content/uploads/2019-Attorney-Compensation-Report.pdf) and the next two highest paid specializations (Workers compensation and personal injury) also draw from medical knowledge and expertise.

I am also definitely interested in the law and psychiatry intersection. Let me know if this helps and I would happy to provide any further insights or help. Thank you.