Choose your doctorate

University of Hull, Hull, UK.
Journal of Clinical Nursing (Impact Factor: 1.26). 03/2007; 16(2):225-33. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2702.2007.01582.x
Source: PubMed


The development of education options for nurses has been inexorable and it is increasingly the case that senior nurses are considering a doctorate as the logical next step in their educational career. Such individuals need to make important decisions as to whether they should embark on a taught doctorate, professional doctorate or a traditional PhD. Each of these options will necessitate a considerable investment in time and money as well as the sacrifice of quality time and spare time over a significant number of years. A doctorate is not for everyone. Those still reading this text may be asking 'could this possibly be for me'? This paper will try to help the reader decide which if any option to take.
It is suggested that nurses will now turn to the doctoral degree as their next adventure in academic study. It is argued that this development is not being controlled by management forces and indeed cannot be controlled by them. This last is chiefly because the move towards doctoral education is led by individuals who choose to study for a doctorate simply because they can. The paper considers what choices are available to nurses who wish to pursue a doctoral programme of study. In particular, this paper considers what new developments in doctoral courses are becoming available and what advantage there may be in studying for one of the newer professional doctorates rather than a traditional PhD.
The material here is the result of a review of the literature on recent developments in doctoral education for nurses. The existing provision by UK and other universities was also reviewed, the data being collected by an informal review of universities' advertising material.
It is inevitable that some nurses who are already qualified to degree and masters degree will take advantage of the doctoral degree opportunities which now newly present themselves. For nurses in practice, the advantages of the professional doctorate is that it is more structured, enables more peer and academic support and is more practice orientated. It is suggested that the move towards doctoral programmes for nurses will present one of the most important evolutionary changes in the practice of nursing.
It is suggested that doctoral education for nurses will increase in prevalence and that this process of change is already underway. Doctoral education will provide practitioners with the experience and skills required to conduct research and further develop practice. For individual practitioners, doctoral education will enhance self-confidence in an increasingly technical and complex arena and in a practice discipline that is becoming ever more politically charged. The professional doctorate appears to be particularly suited to senior nurse practitioners. What remains is for us to accept this new challenge and to shape its development for the benefit of the practice of nursing.

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    • "This development is to be welcomed for the learning potential that it can offer for all parties. Exemplars may be very helpful for clinical nurses choosing their doctorate (Jolley 2007). Indeed the web medium can do away with the 'one visitor – one bedroom at a time' requirement of traditional PhD borrowing, so that many visitors can browse, stay and even talk to each other about what they are finding. "

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    • "However, it seems as if the turbulence around the discipline's right to exist has now abated, and it has been sanctioned by both the public and the state in several European countries [1]. As the discipline is an applied one, it is common for nurses to pursue their academic career in parallel with their practical duties [3]. Accordingly, it is understandable that nurses focus on and identify their research problems in their work context. "

    Preview · Article · Jan 2008 · European Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing
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    • "Consequently, compared with other disciplines, nurses obtain their doctorate much later in their professional career. Nursing, therefore, is not a typical 'profession' (Jolley 2007), with the average age of most doctoral applicants in their forties with considerable clinical or teaching experience that is largely unmatched academically. This poses a real challenge for mature entrants, the academy and the profession. "
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to report the perceptions of senior academics' working in institutions of higher education towards professional doctorates for the health and social care professions. The professional doctorate is a product of its time introduced for the purpose of developing and improving clinical practice. The extent to which this has been realised, however, has yet to be determined, there being little empirical or theoretical work in this field. This research is an attempt to begin to produce an evidence base in this area by reporting the views of those stakeholders responsible for delivering the curriculum and its intended aim of improving clinical practice. A modified version of illuminative evaluation was designed to map the range of perceptions and intended outcomes of the professional doctorate. Fifty-five academics from 41 institutions of higher education were telephone interviewed and their perceptions of the professional doctorate elicited, together with a content analysis of the curriculum documents. Academics' views fell into one of three broad categories: enthusiastic, ambivalent and sceptical. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE TO PRACTICE: Academics' perceptions of the professional doctorate may have a bearing on whether the stated aim of the curriculum and improvements in clinical practice is realised. Academics are responsible for the recruitment of students and the quality of the educational experience. Respondents' perceptions raise questions about their commitment to professional doctorates relative to PhD, factors that will be considered during stages two and three of this research where the views of students and sponsors will be reported.
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