Ph.D. in a non-nursing field?

  1. Has anyone here decided to pursue a Ph.D. in something non-nursing related? For example, the dean of my School of Nursing has her Ph.D. in physiology. I have a very short time before I complete my BSN, and I do plan to work for a period of time as a nurse. However, my aspirations are to obtain my Ph.D., but I don't necessarily want to pursue a Ph.D. in nursing. I understand that if I do plan to pursue a Ph.D. in another related field, I will have to complete a series of other undergrad classes to fulfill pre-req requirements, but I am just being curious if anyone here had ever considered a grad degree outside the nursing realm, or if you know of anyone.
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  3. by   EnergizerNurse
    I've seen many RNs, particularly those with psychiatric experience, get PhDs as clinical psychologists. The dean of my nursing college has her PhD in psychology. The associate dean has a EdD - a doctorate in education.
  4. by   llg
    It used to be very common as there were no PhD programs in nursing prior to the 1970's. Until recently, there were very few PhD programs in nursing to choose from. Nurses who wanted doctoral education had no choice but to leave the nursing discipline and get a degree in something else. That's one reason why so many of the major nursing theories seem a bit "disconnected" from the daily practice of nursing. They were developed by people educated only partially within nursing -- and influenced by their "other disciplines."

    As the discipline matured and developed it's own doctoral level programs, the emphasis for academics within nursing has been to be educated at the doctoral level within nursing. I'm not saying it's a bad thing to get a PhD in another field. I'm just saying that you need to really think it through before making such a big committment (as you seem to be doing).

    Your academic perspective (research, etc.) will be influenced (perhaps dominated) by that other field and it will affect the types of jobs you will be well-suited for. For example, if you want to be an educational administrator, then getting an EdD makes sense. If you want to be a physiology researcher, then getting a PhD in physiology makes sense. etc. etc. etc. However, if you want to be a nurse scholar, then you should get your PhD in nursing.

    They are all OK choices -- but the different paths don't lead to the same knowledge or expertise. Acknowledge the differences in perspective that each path will provide you, and understand that each path leads to a different career. Then choose the course of study that will lead you down the career path that will suit you best.

    Good luck,
    llg, PhD, RN (mine is in nursing)