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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First of all, I just have to vent that I am beginning to get frustrated with the new MDC. I don't like all these ads and such...errrr. The interface doesn't seem as user friendly...don't like it.

Rant over.

Anyways, I'm at the beginning stages of contemplation regarding whether or not I should pursue a Phd or DrPH in Maternal Child Health. I am finishing up my MA in Health/Lactation Consulting and I am going to be sitting for the IBLCE this coming July. I have been also taking prerequisites for nursing school...and I still want to accomplish that goal, I think. But I've had a couple of colleagues suggest that I should go for my Phd and both of my chairs for my MA program gave me tons of positive feedback on my thesis. They even asked for me to present at their conference next year.

So, I'm wondering if anyone has any advise. I had been planning on getting a DNP, which is clinical/research based advanced nursing degree...but now wondering if I may be better jumping into a Phd/DrPH program instead.

Any thoughts? I'm terrified and excited to make a decision....
 

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What do you want to do afterwards? That, above all else, will determine which route is the best way to get there.

If you want to do hard-core research, then a PhD is a good way to go, but make sure to investigate the job prospects before committing 3-5 years of your life. In addition to the general issues surrounding academic hiring (i.e., there are way more PhDs out there than there are jobs), faculty appointments in nursing tend to require a professional nursing degree in addition to the PhD. There are other possibilities, too, though, that you may want to look into, e.g., health policy, public health, etc.

It's a bad idea to do a PhD because someone else thinks you should. It takes significant effort. You have to be internally motivated and really want it. The last stretch for me was completed on pure willpower and drive to finish, because by the time I got to the end (i.e., the last 6 months or year), I was so incredibly sick of my topic. According to my advisor at the time, that was the sign that I was ready to finish, so that experience is clearly quite common!

If you want to do more practical/clinical work along with some research, then it sounds like the DNP might be more appropriate, but I don't know anything about that degree, so take that with a grain of salt.

The best advice I could give you would be to:

1) Figure out what you want to do career-wise. Then talk to people doing that and get their advice. Advice from professors who are not doing exactly what you want to do is valuable, but keep in mind that they are not necessarily coming from the same place nor are they looking in the same direction you are.

2) If you are thinking about a research career, put in the effort now to publish a journal article from your Master's thesis. If you're getting strong encouragement to present it, that's a sign that you probably have something publishable. That will not only give you a big piece of practical insight into whether or not you enjoy research (because publishing is one of the primary activities of a research career, and if you dislike the publishing process, it is really not going to be the right career for you), but if you do decide that you like it, you'll be well set up for applying for fellowships and the like. Health services research cares deeply about publication counts. An internal conference presentation doesn't really count for much, though of course it's better than nothing, and, as a Master's student, I'm sure it's quite an honor to be invited. Congrats on the invitation, and on completing your degree!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by ~pi View Post

What do you want to do afterwards? That, above all else, will determine which route is the best way to get there.

If you want to do hard-core research, then a PhD is a good way to go, but make sure to investigate the job prospects before committing 3-5 years of your life. In addition to the general issues surrounding academic hiring (i.e., there are way more PhDs out there than there are jobs), faculty appointments in nursing tend to require a professional nursing degree in addition to the PhD. There are other possibilities, too, though, that you may want to look into, e.g., health policy, public health, etc.

It's a bad idea to do a PhD because someone else thinks you should. It takes significant effort. You have to be internally motivated and really want it. The last stretch for me was completed on pure willpower and drive to finish, because by the time I got to the end (i.e., the last 6 months or year), I was so incredibly sick of my topic. According to my advisor at the time, that was the sign that I was ready to finish, so that experience is clearly quite common!

If you want to do more practical/clinical work along with some research, then it sounds like the DNP might be more appropriate, but I don't know anything about that degree, so take that with a grain of salt.

The best advice I could give you would be to:

1) Figure out what you want to do career-wise. Then talk to people doing that and get their advice. Advice from professors who are not doing exactly what you want to do is valuable, but keep in mind that they are not necessarily coming from the same place nor are they looking in the same direction you are.

2) If you are thinking about a research career, put in the effort now to publish a journal article from your Master's thesis. If you're getting strong encouragement to present it, that's a sign that you probably have something publishable. That will not only give you a big piece of practical insight into whether or not you enjoy research (because publishing is one of the primary activities of a research career, and if you dislike the publishing process, it is really not going to be the right career for you), but if you do decide that you like it, you'll be well set up for applying for fellowships and the like. Health services research cares deeply about publication counts. An internal conference presentation doesn't really count for much, though of course it's better than nothing, and, as a Master's student, I'm sure it's quite an honor to be invited. Congrats on the invitation, and on completing your degree!
Everything ~pi said!

I'm not in your field. My PhD is in the Humanities and I started on it later than average -- 32 -- than most of my cohort. I began work on it when my son was 9 months old and defended when he was six. I'm very glad I'm did it and I've managed to keep myself afloat in this horrible job market with a great post-doc. I am up for another post-doc (wish me luck, fingers crossed) but, if I don't get it, I have work on a project lined up for next academic year. However, no tenure track position is in sight, even though I've now been looking for two years (In fairness, I live in Europe and we're not very mobile due to my husband's work and our ties here, but still ... . ). I knew what I was getting into, but that doesn't make it any easier when I'm scrambling for jobs. . .. I spent a significant amount of time this fall and spring applying for more jobs when I was supposed to be working on the post-doc I already had. All this to say, that, at least in the Humanities, there's a huge amount of uncertainty and it can be very very difficult to get a secure, long-term position.

But ... of course .. your field could be (and probably is!) much different. Do think long and hard about what ~pi said, though. Think about what you really want to do and if a PhD would really help you accomplish that. Could you still do what you want without it? If so, I would suggest *not* doing it! It is hard, grueling, and lonely. And it's especially hard with children and a family. The weight of it is always on your shoulders. Like ~pi, it was basically a triumph of the will for me to finish. And I only did so because I knew, after years of doing other jobs, that a career in academia was absolutely and completely what I wanted. I also come from an academic family and had something to prove to myself and to them.

Also, I know that advisers tend to be pretty glib about suggesting students work on a PhD. I don't mean they don't think you're really good! They clearly do! But they often mean it as the ultimate compliment and don't really think through the repercussions of their comments for the students themselves. They don't necessarily think, "What is it this student really wants?" "What is this student's personal situation?" They just think, "Cool. Good student!"

Anyway, good luck with your decision!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the advice from both of you...I"m going to mull this over for a couple of days. I realize this is a huge commitment.
 
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