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Would you like to build the evidence in evidence-based practice?

Amy Davis, PhD, RN, Associate Editor
Assistant Professor, The University of Arizona College of Nursing

I believe you would agree this is a very good time to become a professional nurse.  I don’t know if you are being invited to steak dinners and courted with breakfasts by all the hospitals in town, just so they can show you a 10 minute video of their facility; but my graduating class felt the love, almost 20 years ago, as you probably do now.  Maybe prospective employers are offering flexible schedules, telling you about all the support and training they will provide their new graduates, and perhaps even sign-on bonuses or loyalty incentives if you work for them for a couple of years.  It is indeed a good time to become a professional nurse. 

In addition to becoming a professional nurse, it is also a great time to become an advanced practice nurse and a nurse researcher.  There are many opportunities in nursing, because it is one of the top 10 professions that have the most new jobs.  We are the largest workforce in the US, about 2.6 million.  And there is still a critical shortage of nurses, at all levels.  Only about 50% of nurses are BSN prepared.  Your training in theory and evidence-based practice will allow you to take a leadership role, to improve clinical practice and patient outcomes through clinical scholarship.  What many people don’t realize is that, despite all the publicity on the critical shortage of nurses at the bedside, there is an incrementally greater shortage of nurses with higher educational preparation and advanced training.  Only about 10% of all nurses have a master’s degree in nursing.  A master’s prepared nurse can become a nurse case manager, nurse practitioner, nursing faculty, or a self-employed entrepreneur.  Each of these roles offers a broader scope of practice, more responsibility, more autonomy, more flexibility, and sometimes, even more money.

One of the current movements in the nursing profession is to begin research training for nurses earlier, so that, like other disciplines, nurse researchers will be able to have a long and successful research career, to build and expand their expertise as well as train future generations of nurse researchers.  This will allow nursing science to advance at a faster pace to improve nursing practice. It may interest you to know that only about 1% of all nurses are PhD prepared.  One of the most exciting roles for a doctoral-prepared nurse, in my opinion, is being a researcher.  Nurse researchers come up with novel ideas, then test them, to develop new knowledge.  This is the basis for the ‘evidence, in evidence-based practice’.  I often wondered, if our practice is not evidence-based, then what might it be based on?

Have you ever considered getting a doctorate?  One of the most obnoxious things I heard from a professor as an undergraduate (or so I felt at the time) was that getting a doctorate is not out of reach if you have persistence.  Today, motivated and talented BSN students like you, who are interested in developing new nursing knowledge, have the option to enroll directly in a PhD program or a practice based program (DNP) .  Many colleges have training grants that provide fellowships to doctoral students covering their tuition and may even provide a monthly stipend.  The government also has a loan repayment program for doctoral-prepared nurses who teach in nursing programs .  Remember, only 1% of all nurses are PhD prepared.  This is the area with the greatest challenge AND the greatest need.

In speaking with a group of high achievers, as readers of JUNS must be, a couple of my favorite sayings by Mother Teresa are fitting. The first is "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that he didn't trust me so much." and the second is "Life is a promise; fulfill it”.

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