A Complete Guide to PhD in Nursing Degree Programs

A PhD in nursing is a doctorate level degree in nursing which is different from the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. While the DNP focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing, the PhD in nursing focuses on the research and academic aspects of nursing. For example, those looking to become nurse practitioners are more likely to pursue a DNP, while those looking to go into scientific research or the teaching side of nursing are more likely to seek a PhD in nursing.

Like other advanced nursing degrees, the PhD in nursing requires entering into and completing an approved undergraduate nursing program. This can include taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses, or NCLEX. It is required in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for all licensed nurses at all levels. Once an undergraduate degree has been completed, nurses can then enter a graduate program of nursing to obtain a PhD in nursing. Those with a qualifying bachelor’s degree can expect to devote four years to obtaining a PhD. Students with a master’s degree in nursing can complete PhD studies in as little as two years.

Choosing a PhD Nursing Degree Program

There are many schools across the country that provide graduate education for nurses, and one of the most important factors when choosing which schools to apply to is accreditation. There are many agencies dedicating to ensuring the quality of nursing schools such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. They approve graduate programs in nursing, as well as baccalaureate and even residency programs. Another national accrediting agency for nursing is the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission. You can use their search engine to search for programs in your area, by name, and even program type.

One of the reasons national accreditation is so important compared to regional or state accreditation is that issues when transferring credits from school to school are less likely to arise. For example, if the school you are transferring from is accredited in your state but not nationally, credits may not fully transfer and force you to retake courses, which cost both time and money. However, if both your old and new school are nationally accredited or accredited by the same agency, you can increase your chances of earning the maximum allowable transfer credits. One of the best ways to avoid this is to already have a qualifying bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing. This can have PhD in nursing students entering the program as late as possible to graduate as soon as possible.

Surviving a PhD Nursing Degree Program

Once you get into a PhD nursing degree program, the challenge continues. One of the most challenging aspects of completing such a program is paying for it all. The good news is that there are many grants and scholarships that are specifically awarded to students just like you. The best things about these types of awards is that they are basically free money awarded to students based on need and academic performance that do not need to be paid back as long as the student finishes and graduates from the nursing program. Those who do not qualify for grants or are among the many that were turned down for scholarships still have many options for aid in paying for school. Nursing programs often use student nurses in their own facilities and can have numerous work for study options. Likewise, nurses who are already employed and looking to move up the nursing ladder can find help in paying for school from their employer, many of which often promote nurses from within. Other students in PhD nursing degree programs can also look to student loan options, which often include money upfront, no payments until graduation, and low interest rates. There are even loan forgiveness programs such as the National Health Service Corps and the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Learning and studying is also a big part of a PhD nursing degree program. This can include research papers, dissertations, group projects, lab work, and much more with a nursing education in mind. Many students in graduate programs in nursing can also be asked to choose a specialty, such as pediatrics or women’s medicine, or by area of medicine, such as cardiology or neurology. PhD nursing students looking to go into the scientific side of nursing can do loads of research and spend countless hours in the lab. Those leaning towards the academic side of nursing will be asked to spend loads of time in the classroom as a teacher’s aide, teacher, or both.

Graduating from a PhD in Nursing Degree Program

Graduating from a PhD in nursing program should qualify you to work as a nurse in the same state your school is in. Each state has its own requirements for nurses and a list of all the contact information for the nursing boards in all 50 states and even a few U.S. territories, can be found here. Applying for an exam, passing it, and other license requirements can apply. However, not every job in nursing requires a license, so be sure and research the one you are interested in to ensure whether or not a license is needed, as well as how to get one.

There are many careers available with a PhD in nursing, which can range from administrative positions, such as nursing manager, to clinical, such as chief nurse anesthetist, to academic, such as professor of nursing. The average salary for those who have completed a PhD in nursing can vary by type of career sought, location, years of experience, and other factors. However, the average annual salaries for the above positions were $65,000 per year for a nursing manager, $172,724 for chief nurse anesthetist, and $67,717 for associate professor of nursing.

PhD Programs for Nurses

If you already have had a significant amount of education in the nursing field, and are looking to advance your career even further, a PhD in Nursing is an excellent consideration. Persons who obtain a PhD in nursing are primed to become leaders in the field of healthcare, often becoming administrators or managers. Below you will find a list of quality programs perfect for anyone interested in expanding their nursing career opportunities.

Walden University Walden University of Phoenix offers a Pd.D. in Health Services - Health Care Administration program that prepares students to adapt to the constant changing of the health care industry. Students will learn to critically examine and evaluate issues and trends and feel empowered to influence the healthcare industry. Graduates will learn to conduct, evaluate, apply, certain policies and practices that impact health systems.
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Grand Canyon University Grand Canyon University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program provides broad and in-depth preparation for advanced practice and leadership roles in nursing. The program expands on current theoretical and scientific foundations of health care practice, including the discipline knowledge base, the design and evaluation of clinical solutions, and clinical and organizational change leadership.
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