JD, PhD, MPH, MPP? What should I do? Help!!


I recently graduated from an MSN program in Family Psych/Mental Health. I've worked in child and adolescent mental health for about 5 years, but only about 6 months of those 5 years have been as an RN. Throughout all of my various positions I have found that I am very interested in mental health policy, namely early childhood and child/adolescent mental health policy. Even my Master's thesis was about policy and program building, I evaluated early intervention programs currently in operation in the US-specifically mental health/psychiatric programs that intervened with at-risk mother-child dyads. So, I love this field :)

But now I'm trying to figure out where to go from here. I'm planning on working for the next year at my current position, a program coordinator for a child/adolescent PHP, but then I'd like to continue on with my education, as I have been told by multiple professors and preceptors while in school that in order to be "taken seriously" in the policy world, I'm going to need more than clinical experience behind me. In fact, as an undergrad, I had one professor, who had a PhD in social work, who went back to get her JD because she wanted policy people to "listen to" her. And I trust these women and their knowledge and opinions, but what do you all think? Do you think it would be worthwhile/necessary to get a JD? Would a PhD in nursing or an MPH with an emphasis in Health Policy carry equal weight? I there a better option out there that I'm not considering? I really do love school and I'm not nervous about getting back into a program (yeah, I know, I'm sick) but it's a big financial investment and these programs are bound to be intensive as well, and I want to make sure I'm taking the best steps to improve my career in a practical manner, you know?

allnurses Guide

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.

I think you should clarify what type of job you want to get when you are done ... and then do a little research to find out what type of education would be most useful for that type of work.

A young person can go to an entry level nursing program not yet knowing what type of nurse they want to be. A lack of committment to one specific specialty is normal at that stage of a career. But graduate school is about specialization and focus -- and a second graduate degree and/or doctoral education is about becoming a true expert in a specific field. So it helps to know what specific area you are interested in before making that big investment (so you don't waste your time, energy, and money on the wrong educational program).

In your original post, you don't sound as if you have a specific career goal in mind. I would clarify that before investing more in education.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

llg, PhD, RN-BC