American Association of Colleges of Nursing Doctoral Education Conference
Jan. 17-19, 2019 in San Diego, California
In addition to a plethora of poster and podium presentations on the latest doctoral nursing research, the conference offered current data on the trajectory of Doctoral Education in Nursing regarding the goals, challenges, and opportunities in preparing doctoral graduates for the future.
Goals, Challenges, and Opportunities
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommended the number of doctorally-prepared nurses double by 2020.
Significant increases are seen in DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) prepared graduates. Of great concern is the numbers earning a research-focused nursing doctorate (PhD) are declining at a rapid rate.
Strategies to Address the Gaps
Strategies to address this issue are critical to sustaining the production of doctorally prepared nurse scientists and researchers. Of the 6,886 doctoral nursing degrees conferred in 2017, only 11.6% (n = 796) were PhD’s. Of these, 8.2% (n = 129) qualified applicants were not admitted due to an insufficient number of qualified faculty.
Sufficient numbers of nurse scientists are needed to provide ongoing current evidence that informs nursing practice within the broader healthcare system. The Nursing Profession’s priority must be to educate and mentor the next generation of PhD prepared nurse researchers and faculty.
The PhD prepared nurse is positioned to conduct essential research related to healthcare outcomes for promoting population health and improving health policy, both independently and as part of interdisciplinary teams.
PhD Program Recruitment and Curriculum Strategies
It is vital for prospective program applicants to be made aware of the credentials and experience of PhD program faculty as well as alumni by highlighting their credentials, research and publications from a variety of roles as exemplars. A holistic approach to the admission process facilitates diverse cohorts composed of a multitude of experts and has been proven a better predictor of student success vs. a metric driven admission process.
PhD program methodology, class scheduling and curriculum designs that envision and accommodate customized curriculum best meet the current complex emerging roles of applicants. Creating interprofessional academic organizational opportunities promote collaboration amongst strategic partners and equip program graduates in creating innovative interventions to care for select populations in the current complex national and global condition.
It is essential for PhD programs to facilitate the development of expertise in the student’s focused area of research concentration while in addition expanding pedagogy in other disciplines. Promoting structured mentorship dynamics within the dissertation advisor/advisee relationship prepares the PhD student in a goal directed research agenda.
Exploring innovative ways to collaborate, adopt, and diffuse alternative Dissertation Models Amongst the Disciplines is another innovative trend in Doctoral Program Development.