What can I do in the next 2 years to be an attractive PhD candidate?

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by NurseRockk NurseRockk (New) New

Hi all!

My health system is switching to a new EHR, and I was chosen to be on the team. I just switched from a clinical position to a position as a trainer, and I will be working on developing the training curriculum and program for both administrators and clinicians. I'm really happy to be in this job because I wanted to get a taste of informatics and a taste of nursing education.

I'm committed to this job for the next 2-3 years. During this time, I'm taking advantage of tuition reimbursement and I'm earning a MSN in Nursing Education. My ultimate goal is research and academia, and I plan to apply to PhD programs after I earn my Masters. I plan to pursue a PhD full time to take advantage of the stipend opportunities and immerse myself in research. Right now, I could see myself pursuing research in home health care, health disparities, innovations in nursing education, and health policy.

It will take 2 years to complete my Masters, and one more to fulfill the work requirement for my tuition reimbursement. What can I do in the next 2 years to make myself an attractive PhD candidate?

Edited by NurseRockk
correction

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 45 years experience. 7,899 Posts

Do research NOW in your area of interest. Get published. Present.

NurseRockk

NurseRockk

6 Posts

Thanks for responding. I should have been clearer... I'd love to do research NOW, but I have no idea how to get involved in something like that. No clue how to start a research project... which is part of why I want to pursue a PhD.

So my question for you is... how?

walkingdeadhead

walkingdeadhead

44 Posts

PhD programs want candidates who have an idea of what they are interested in researching, and who have research interests that match their faculty.

You don't have to conduct a full scale research project in order to get into a program or even to present at a conference. I started out presenting posters and then facilitating sessions at conferences. I present on what works for me in the classroom (simulation, games, projects, testing strategies, etc.). The program I was accepted into liked that I had an idea of what I wanted to research, and that I had already performed scholarly activities related to it. I explained to them in my interview that I see certain innovative strategies working in the classroom, and that I want my PhD to learn how to put the numbers behind it and strengthen my findings. It also helped that I chose a program with faculty that researched in my area of interest. As you develop your interest area look for faculty that match it and get into contact with them prior to applying.

Your MSN program can really strengthen your CV. As you do papers and projects, see if there is a way to tie in your assignments and projects to your areas of interest. If you have a particularly successful project or paper,submit an abstract to present it at a conference or decide if it's publish worthy.

As you develop the curriculum for your current job, maybe you can keep track of training strategies that worked and present it somewhere?

Sorry if if this post is hard to follow. It seems like I had a flight of ideas that I couldn't get together í ½í¸ƒ

NurseRockk

NurseRockk

6 Posts

Thank you! This is super helpful, and wasn't hard to follow at all. I think I'll start the process of narrowing my focus and really looking at faculty at schools that offer PhDs.

I have a question about posters... how did you start creating poster presentations? I don't know much about posters, and for some reason always thought that they were summaries of full research articles. Could on do, say, a literature review on a topic and present a poster on that? How did you start getting into conferences to present?

(P.S. I love your username. I'm a huge walking dead fan!)

walkingdeadhead

walkingdeadhead

44 Posts

The topics of your posters and rules regarding them really just depend on the conference. Some only want well documented research, some want innovative projects, some want thought-provoking pieces (lit review would work here, etc.).

The first poster I did with another faculty member was for a faculty development conference. They were asking for posters on teaching strategies. We used simulation to correct some clinical issues with our students, and that's what our poster was about. It discussed the problems that led to the development of the sim, the sim itself, and the outcomes and changes noted after the sim. It wasn't hard and fast research, just a demonstration of how our technique worked in our classroom. The poster actually prompted me to do further research on simulation.

You can begin searching for conferences on topics that interest you (informatics, home health, nurse educator, etc.). It may help just to attend a few first, network, and gain ideas. Depending on where you live, there may be many close to you. Also, many MSN programs require or strongly encourage you to present. I tend to present more at educator and simulation conferences, but I also like to attend critical care and ER conferences since I work in those areas. As you gain confidence, think about signing up to speak or be a part of a panel. You may be able to do this with your colleagues, classmates, or faculty. If you haven't seen a conference poster, I can pm you a link to a website that has one of mine up.

llg

llg, PhD, RN

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 45 years experience. 13,469 Posts

PhD programs want candidates who have an idea of what they are interested in researching, and who have research interests that match their faculty.

...

The program I was accepted into liked that I had an idea of what I wanted to research, and that I had already performed scholarly activities related to it.

.... It also helped that I chose a program with faculty that researched in my area of interest. As you develop your interest area look for faculty that match it and get into contact with them prior to applying.

��

The points I quoted above are common requirements for entry into PhD programs. Do you have any experience working in the fields that you say you want to study at the PhD level? If not, you should get some. I noticed right away that you will be working in a different specialty (informatics) and that will work against you. There is nothing wrong with informatics ... but the Admissions Committee will be wondering why you are not working in the specialty that you say you want to be the focus of your research.

Also, you will need faculty members to mentor you and supervise your research. It may be easier to find such faculty members if you are already familiar with your chosen field of study and have some experience in it.

Edited by llg

NurseRockk

NurseRockk

6 Posts

These are great points. I'm less informatics and more education... my position is training and the focus is on curriculum development and training at our home health agency for the new EHR. I'm also involved in the policy group of our state nurses association, so I do some work in analysis of policy and lobbying. I felt like moving into a training position was a good choice for me as it allows me to learn how to design curriculum and training programs. I'm hoping my capstone in my MSN program will result in a poster that I can present. So we shall see :)