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Doctoral Degree Preferences for Nurse Educators

Findings From a National Study

King, Tara Spalla PhD, RN; Melnyk, Bernadette Mazurek PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN; O'Brien, Tara PhD, RN, CNE; Bowles, Wendy PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, CNE; Schubert, Carolyn DNP, RN-BC, CNE; Fletcher, Linnea EdD, RN, CEN, TCRN; Anderson, Cindy M. PhD, RN, APRN-CNP, ANEF, FAHA, FNAP, FAAN

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000730
Nurse Educator: PDF Only

Background Current doctoral degree options may not meet needs of nurses desiring educator roles in academic or health care settings.

Purpose The purpose of the study was to assess preferences for existing terminal degree options for nurse educators and determine the need for a new doctoral degree in nursing education.

Method Nurses in practice, academia, and leadership nationwide (n = 826) answered a 19-item needs assessment survey regarding adequacy of and interest in terminal degree options.

Results More than 60% reported current doctoral degrees available to nurse educators lack content in curriculum development and teaching-learning best practices in nursing. Most data supported a new terminal degree.

Conclusion A primary factor in nurses choosing not to enroll in a terminal degree program may be limited availability of education aligned with career goals. The doctor of nursing education, a practice degree parallel to the DNP, could prepare nurses for academic and practice educator roles.

Author Affiliations: Director of Assessment and Evaluation and Assistant Professor Clinical Nursing (Dr King), Assistant Professor (Dr O'Brien), Assistant Professor of Clinical Nursing and Assistant Dean for Baccalaureate Programs (Dr Bowles), Assistant Professor Clinical Nursing (Dr. Schubert), Clinical Instructor (Dr Fletcher), Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Educational Innovation, Martha S. Pitzer Center for Women, Children and Youth (Dr Anderson), College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus; and Vice President for Health Promotion, University Chief Wellness Officer, Dean and Professor at the College of Nursing, and Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the College of Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, and Executive Director, The Helene Fuld Health Trust National Institute for EBP (Dr Melnyk), Columbus.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr King, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, #343 Newton Hall, 1585 Neil Ave, Columbus, OH 43210 (

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal’s Web site (

Accepted for publication: June 10, 2019

Published ahead of print: July 16, 2019

Cite this article as: King TS, Melnyk BM, O'Brien T, Bowles W, Schubert C, Fletcher L, Anderson CM. Doctoral degree preferences for nurse educators: findings from a national study. Nurse Educ. 2019; doi: 10.1097/NNE.0000000000000730. [Epub ahead of print]

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