Nation Needs More Nurse Scientists

Nation Needs More Nurse Scientists

Are you interested in identifying patient care issues and finding solutions?  Consider getting on track to become a Ph.D trained nurse scientist. With a doctorate you can do independent research.

Nursing research develops knowledge to:

  • Build the scientific foundation for clinical practice
  • Prevent disease and disability
  • Manage and eliminate symptoms caused by illness
  • Enhance end-of-life and palliative care.

Only about 1 percent of the estimated 2.9 million registered nurses possess a doctorate, according to a 2010 Institute of Medicine report titled “The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health.” The reportfound that there is a shortage of nurse scientists.

Why so few numbers? Reasons include more money to be earned in clinical practice and a longer academic journey for nurses, especially if they entered the profession with an associate degree.

But where there is a will, there is often a way. If you envision yourself making discoveries to improve the health of individuals and winning big grants to do so, there are a number of resources available to launch the careers of academic nurses.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholars program is working to develop outstanding junior nursing faculty through career development awards, which include mentorship, leadership training and salary and research support. The award is for $350,000 over the three years. More details can be found here

The National Institute of Nursing Research has fellowships, career development awards and loan repayment programs. NINR’s annual budget is about $150 million, and more than 80 percent goes toward funding the work of nurse scientists within NINR and around the country, according to the American Nurses Association. More information can be found at

Nurse scientists do their part to help create a healthier nation. Many more are needed. Do you hear the calling?

Robin Farmer is a freelance journalist with a focus on health, education and business. Visit her at