With qualified students being turned away from nursing degree programs because of a lack of faculty to teach them, there is a serious void in the number of nurses with doctoral degrees in the US. Thus, nursing experts consider it a priority to prepare more nurses with research-focused (Ph.D., DNS) and practice-focused (DNP) degrees. Currently less than 1% of the more than 3 million registered nurses in the US have a doctorate in nursing or a related field.
Several organizations are working to increase the number of nurses with doctorates in the US. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is trying to change this situation by investing in Ph.D. programs with its Future of Nursing Scholars program. Their goal is to have more nurses with Ph.D.s who:
- Strengthen nurse education
- Advance science and discovery through research
- Commit to a long-term leadership career
- Further transformational change in nursing and health care
In addition, the Jonas Center for Nursing and Veterans Healthcare offers its Jonas Nurse Leaders Scholars program to strengthen the supply of nursing faculty and advance practice clinicians with doctorates.
Efforts to increase the number of doctoral students are bearing fruit. An American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) survey from 2014 found a sizable increase in enrollment in doctoral nursing programs over the previous year:
- D. programs: 3.2% increase
- Doctor of Nursing Practice programs: 2% increase
These increases in enrollment should help meet the goals of the Future of Nursing report to double the number of US nurses with doctorates by 2020. Having an increased number of nurses with doctorates will help meet the country’s growing demand for faculty, nurse scientists, expert clinicians, innovators and leaders.