Experienced nurse educators' perceptions of doctoral (PhD) preparation as supporting their nurse educator roles
Because of the highly complex expectations of new nursing graduates "nursing education needs teachers with a deep nursing knowledge who also know how to teach and conduct research...in order to address the specific educational demands of teaching the complex practice of nursing" (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010, p. 6). Currently, the educational requirement for a nurse educator in a university setting is a doctoral degree, preferably a PhD. However, Cronon(2006) emphasized that "many PhD recipients are ill prepared to function effectively in the settings in which they work...particularly those related to teaching" (p. 5). The purpose of this study was to document the perceptions of experienced nurse educators both prepared, and currently preparing at the doctoral (PhD) level, to understand to what extent PhD work prepared them for their role in the delivery of nursing education. A case study approach was selected, using a constructivist paradigm. Data were collected from ten participants at three sites of a university school of nursing using three semi-structured interviews. Primary data were supplemented by institutional foundation documents and a field journal. Four themes emerged from the data as follows: the ambiguities associated with the interpretation of the term nurse educator influenced how a nurse educator described their role; doctoral (PhD) education enhanced approaches to thinking in relation to increased breadth and depth of knowledge base, in addition to research capabilities; the PhD credential was found to be indicative of research credibility both within and across the disciplines and enhanced the potential for funding opportunities; and doctoral (PhD) education did not support the pedagogical aspects, specifically formal teaching preparation, of the nurse educator's role. While this study provided insight in understanding how doctoral (PhD) education supported experienced nurse educators in their roles, it identified issues that impacted on how these nurse educators enacted their roles. These issues included both a disconnection and a perceived inequality between research and teaching, in addition to a marked variation in the interpretation of the scholarship of teaching. Among the implications of this study on theory are its contributions to understanding the experiences of nurse educators in relation to their doctoral (PhD) education as supporting their roles in the delivery of nursing education. Among the implications of this study for research is the need to investigate how doctoral (PhD) education could better support the pedagogical aspect of nurse educators' roles, or whether other doctoral (EdD) education might be more effective in providing this pedagogical foundational knowledge. Additional implications of this study for research are to identify ways in which thinking, research, and practice could function collectively, rather than as separate entities. Among the implications for practice are a greater understanding of the teacher-scholar model in relation to the components of discovery, integration, application, and teaching (Boyer, 1990), and how learning organizations and communities of knowledge could facilitate this deeper understanding.
DegreeDoctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
CommitteeBurgess, David; Walker, Keith; Ferguson, Linda; Dray, Norman; Scanlan, Judith
Copyright DateJune 2014
Formal role preparation
Pedagogical content knowledge