1. Swafford, Kristen BSN, RN
  2. Casey, Colleen BSN, RN
  3. Mayo, Casey BSN, RN
  4. Holman, Julie BSN, RN

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Mason referred to the impending faculty shortage its aggravation of the clinical nursing shortage. It is precisely because of the magnitude of these shortages that the nursing profession must be open to alternatives rather than suspicious of new solutions. The John A. Hartford Foundation is offering a visionary response that begins to address the need for doctorally prepared gerontologic nurses. 1 By focusing our graduate education on gerontology, we are helping to define this practice area reducing the risk of ever teaching a course outside of our specialty, as Mason fears.


Mason referenced the continuous route of doctorally prepared biologists physicists as an inappropriate model for nurses to emulate she argues that nursing is fundamentally different in that it serves patients. Perhaps comparing nursing with medicine and psychology is more fitting. The professionals in these fields also serve patients train students from the undergraduate to doctoral levels without extensive breaks for practice.


The value of the nursing experience gained while in pursuit of the doctorate cannot be underestimated. Several of us expect to have worked five years as bedside nurses upon completion of the doctoral program. It is because we value clinical experience that we remain in the nursing workforce, enriching both our student and nursing roles.


The profession can no longer afford research practice to be mutually exclusive. The same is true of clinical experience and advanced nursing education. The BSN-to-PhD route does not undermine nursing education; rather, it offers an alternative to students and provides much-needed educators.


Kristen Swafford, BSN, RN


Colleen Casey, BSN, RN


Casey Mayo, BSN, RN


Julie Holman, BSN, RN




1. Regenstreif DI, et al. Strategies to advance geriatric nursing: the John A. Hartford Foundation initiatives. J Am Geriatr Soc 2003; 51( 10):1479-83. [Context Link]