Doctoral education: some treasonable thoughts

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Author: Hugh McKenna
Date: Mar. 2005
Publisher: The Lancet Publishing Group, a division of Elsevier Science Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 1,066 words

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In recent decades there has been a rapid increase in doctoral programs in nursing worldwide, particularly in western countries. But while there are approximately 250 nursing doctoral education programmes in more than 30 countries, it is remarkable that we do not know how many nurses are prepared to doctorate level, where they are employed, what have been the most common topics for doctoral study, whether their studies have contributed to changes in clinical practice or how many have published from their work. Seeking the answers to such questions is important because millions of pounds and dollars have been spent (how much we do not know) on nursing research studentships and fellowships and much time and effort is expended undertaking the research or supervising/mentoring the students. Perhaps the most important reason for wanting to know the answers to the above questions is that doctoral level study forms the training wheel for future research leaders and contributes to the extant knowledge base of the discipline.

There can of course be no rational argument against the education of nurses for a complex and often life-saving undertaking being at an advanced level. With new technologies, faster patient throughput, more community care, new diseases being discovered and old ones coming back more than ever before we require a cadre of nurse scholars educated to doctoral level.

At the risk of being accused of ageism, it is essential that we increase the number of younger doctoral students. In the UK, the average age of students entering nursing doctoral programmes is 35. This is in contrast to those students who undertake doctoral study...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A135116845