1. Henly, Susan J. PhD, RN

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"Bringing Science to Life," the current strategic plan for the National Institute of Nursing Research (2011), is ambitious in its vision for the science of health and application of nursing research findings to improve health for all. Areas targeted for investment-health promotion/disease prevention, symptom science, and palliative/end-of-life care-build on knowledge derived from past accomplishments. Going forward, "Bringing Science to Life" also constitutes a significant challenge to embrace innovation.


The need for innovation is clear. Technology is enabling a new big data era in science. We have lived in the genomic era for a decade, with ensuing appearance of the many omics sciences. Individuals can now be seen as composite organisms, composed of active microbiomes and possessing metagenomes with potential to both enable and limit health. The science of behavior change now focuses on mechanisms from individual genetics/genomics to social systems, bolstered by technologies for real-time data collection and knowledge from diverse fields-from neuroscience to behavioral economics. Global health is seen in an increasingly interconnected, "smaller" world, requiring new appreciation for scales of place and time to understand the ecology of the whole.


Our research universities are the training grounds for future researchers. There too, life is in flux; institutions are facing financial and competitive stressors (National Research Council, 2012) that some fear have already eroded core academic values, with particular concerns for faculties of nursing and their students (Rolfe, 2013). Clinical and translational science awards are creating both opportunities and challenges for nurse investigators (Knafl & Grey, 2008).


Now is therefore an opportune time to reflect on PhD education in nursing. Signs are that many are doing so. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2010) initiated the discussion; a continuing national dialogue on the nature of research and development of academic programs for nurse scientist training will be held in Chicago this September ( The quality of doctoral education in seven countries was recently assessed (Kim & Welk, 2013). The Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science has convened the Idea Festival Advisory Committee for Nursing Science Education to create discussion venues focused on emerging areas of science ( Take part, so that going forward, we carry forth the values that have inspired us and reflect with deliberate awareness of past contributions to identify the best ways to meet the priorities of the future via education of nurse scientists.


Susan J. Henly, PhD, RN






1. American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2010). The research-focused doctoral program in nursing. Pathways to excellence. Available at[Context Link]


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4. National Institute of Nursing Research. (2011). Bringing science to life. NINR strategic plan. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health. [Context Link]


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