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J Prof Nurs. 1998 Jan-Feb;14(1):14-21.

Student perceptions of nurse doctorates: similarities and differences.

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Department of Nursing, University of Scranton, PA 18510, USA.


This study explored, from a student perspective, similarities and differences between three types of doctoral programs in nursing: doctor of education (EdD), doctor of nursing science (DNSc), and the doctor of philosophy (PhD). Specifically, the study focused on student perceptions of personal and professional growth, research preparation, available support systems, and role preparation within the three types of doctoral programs. Data were collected using a mailed questionnaire that was developed from an earlier qualitative investigation. The findings of the study indicated that there were no significant differences between PhD, EdD, and DNSc students on the first factor, personal and professional growth. Attaining a doctorate was perceived to be enriching from both a personal as well as a professional perspective. A significant difference on the factor related to research was noted by the participants. Although students recognized the programs they were enrolled in as preparing them for research, when asked about other programs, students perceived PhD programs as preparing nurses to conduct research. Support in doctoral programs from faculty and peers was strong, and there was no significant difference on this factor. The fourth and final factor, related to role preparation, did note a significant difference. PhD students did not perceive the doctorate as preparing them for roles as educators, practitioners, or administrators. The results indicate that students do perceive differences in the doctoral education process, particularly in the area of research preparation. It is important that faculty in doctoral programs continue to assess what doctoral graduates view as the primary emphasis of their programs to understand future curricular, academic, and support needs of students.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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