Nursing is one of the most sought-after degrees in universities because of its bounty of job opportunities in hospitals all over the world. However, job vacancies for nurses remain limited, leaving many nursing graduates jobless. One way to stand out from the cookie-cutter nurses is to pursue doctoral nursing graduate programs, which would not only widen your job prospects, but also earn a higher salary in the long run.
Doctoral nursing graduate programs prepares students for careers in health administration, education, clinical research, and advanced clinical practice. These students are trained to become researchers and scholars who can tackle complex health-care questions. Nurses who possess doctorate degrees are expected to be experts within the profession and are able to assume leadership roles in different academic and clinical settings, course work, and research.
There are different relevant doctoral programs for nursing graduates from focus on health education to a concentration on policy research. Most programs confer the title Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), while some award the Doctor of Nursing Science (D.N.S. or D.N.Sc.), Doctor of Science in Nursing (D.S.N.), Nursing Doctorate (N.D.), or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
The curriculum – Doctoral nursing programs offer courses on history and philosophy of nursing; the development and testing of nursing and other health-care techniques; as well as the social, economic, political, and ethical issues that are significant to the field. Data management and research methodology are also part of the curriculum, since students are expected to work individually on research projects and dissertations. The programs can be taken on a full- or part-time basis, especially for employed nurses who seek flexibility in their schedules.
Admission requirements – To become eligible for a doctoral nursing program, a student must have completed a nursing master’s degree. Some schools, however, offer a master’s degree in conjunction with completing the doctoral degree requirements. Some of the standard admission requirements include an R.N. license, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and an essay. Programs usually run for three to five years of full-time study.
The payoff – Many nurses who possess doctoral degrees, whether a nursing Ph.D. or any type of doctorate, naturally pursue a career in the academia. Aside from teaching in colleges and universities, nurses with Ph.D. titles can also seek jobs in consulting firms to help others in designing solutions to health-care delivery problems. They can also work for large hospital chains to manage different divisions, as well as manage complex health-care systems at the executive level. Another career path is research, where nurses prepared at the doctoral level can help formulate national and international health-care policies.