The role of research within a nursing PhD

Research has become a crucial component of every educational field, and it holds a significant place in the field of medical and nursing sciences. The reason is quite simple and straightforward. Research helps attain a deeper insight into various ethical issues, global health concerns, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, and evidence-based knowledge as a healthcare professional.

The job of a nurse has also changed dramatically in the 21st century. In addition to the hospital, nurses can be found working in schools, businesses, home health care, community health departments, and laboratories. Even though each function has distinct duties, a professional nurse’s fundamental objective always remains to represent the client’s interests and deliver the best treatment possible based on research-based facts.

As the role of nurses becomes more dynamic and demanding, it is very important for them to possess high-quality research skills that enable them to make the right decision at the right time. PhD students can identify concepts and structures of their interest, study their relationships, develop predicted models, and finally test them. Nursing research is strongly embedded in the training process of nurses during their PhD-level studies because of its immense impact on the practice of professional nursing, both today and in the future.

This article will take a close look at how and why research in nursing is so important and the role of a PhD nurse researcher.

The role and importance of research in a nursing PhD

Nursing professionals with a PhD in nursing research play a significant part in clinical practice. These PhD nurses are not the same as those with the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. The major difference between a DNP and a PhD in nursing is the role they play at work, and the education they receive beforehand. The nursing PhD program at Wilkes University, for example, aims to educate future researchers, advance the field of nursing, and enhance the standard of medical services and medical policies that may be implemented on the basis of research findings.

Individuals enrolled in PhD degrees in nursing complete a final research thesis, to prepare them to recognize ideas and frameworks, investigate the connections between them, create hypothesized theories, and then evaluate them. Ultimately, a DNP-holding nurse works in a clinical setting in a hospital, such as in a leadership role or involved with direct care, whereas a PhD-holding nurse also works in a clinical setting, but their duty is to utilize their profession to analyze and solve existing patient or systemic issues through scientific research. Organizing and conducting evidence-based research is one of the primary duties of PhD candidates in nursing. Hence, PhD candidates can help to uncover new information for the field of nursing and drive the practice forward.

Advancing nursing knowledge

In the healthcare sector, nursing professionals have a significant amount of influence. The majority of their working time is spent addressing patients and at the patient’s bed, where they interact directly with them and witness the results of their care.

Additionally, they answer inquiries from patients. Patients are often more at ease asking inquiries or disclosing information to nurses than to doctors. Because of this relationship, nurses can provide high-quality treatment while attending to the demands of patients. Nurses who conduct research and investigate have the knowledge and competence to answer these questions reassuringly, particularly for patients treated as part of healthcare research.

Nurses holding PhD degrees through further education can enhance clinical results and expand methods of therapy by participating in evidence-based research in the nursing field. Furthermore, research expertise can help nurses manage initiatives or analyze advanced findings that practitioners can use to improve the quality of care for patients. Having great research abilities helps nurses influence the way healthcare is provided both now and in the future.

Strong research expertise impacts patient care too. Nursing professionals are in an exceptional position to utilize outcomes of studies involving patients because they observe firsthand which current methods and therapies are effective or ineffective for patients. Evidence-based research can, therefore, offer more precise instruments and opportunities to progress the nursing profession.

The goal of nurses in research is to advance therapeutic strategies for a wide range of patients. Research initiatives can better enhance diagnostics and therapy by utilizing rapidly evolving technologies. Research findings may be shared with other nurses in the healthcare system, enabling them to collectively provide the greatest care and act as stronger advocates for their patients.

Addressing healthcare challenges

In addition to working in medical facilities, PhD nurses also instruct, plan public health initiatives, and operate in business. All these fields benefit from nursing research and investigation.

Student nurses can also improve their ability to think critically and solve problems via research and scientific study. They can follow up on their findings and either carry out or suggest research if they see a recurring pattern in a technique, process, or approach that benefits patients. This approach indicates that individuals possess the ability to address their work with an objective viewpoint rather than feeling obligated to serve as lab assistants or search for solutions to make issues better all the time.

Nursing professionals who comprehend the research process are better equipped to apply critical thinking to solve challenges in the workplace. Improving the health of patients constitutes one of the fundamental objectives of research-based studies in nursing. Through the integration of research results into clinical practice, nursing professionals may provide evidence-based care tailored to individual patient requirements. For example, evidence-based studies have demonstrated that using appropriate handwashing practices and maintaining good sanitation can lower the possibility of infections acquired in hospitals. It is essential to put these practices into action as they have the potential to lower patient morbidity while raising satisfaction levels among patients.

When it comes to patient care, evidence-based research helps nursing professionals make well-informed choices by guaranteeing that therapies are backed by the most up-to-date scientific information. Through continuous learning and the use of research-based protocols, nurses may make informed decisions about the best courses of action for their patients.

One of the big challenges in healthcare is providing high-quality care with a reduced budget. Simplifying procedures and lowering total expenditures in healthcare can also be achieved by incorporating evidence-based study results into nursing practice. Nurses may concentrate on delivering the best care available by doing away with outmoded, unsafe, or ineffective practices.

Furthermore, treatments based on research are frequently more economical in the long term because they can avoid problems and lessen the need for further treatment. For example, implementing an evidence-based fall prevention program can save medical expenditures and improve the safety of patients by reducing the frequency of falls and related incidents in hospitals.

Health policy

To improve societal wellbeing, nurse scientists’ main responsibilities in health policy are to broaden the understanding of the subject and offer data that supports the development of health policies. A range of study methodologies are used in health policy investigation to inform, characterize, explain, or test theories. Enhancing patient access, service quality and affordability, and delivery effectiveness are the primary objectives of health policy research.

Increasing the number of nurses conducting studies on health policy can increase their ability to create, suggest, and carry out new policies regarding healthcare.

Student nurses may become more recognized as medical specialists with advocacy and policy-making abilities by doing research on policy during their studies. This will help them become more acknowledged, accepted, and educated when it counts most.

Mentoring future researchers

PhD nurses act as instructors and leaders, particularly for other researchers on their team. They are respected by peers, instructors, and various other departments for their expertise. Their research activities prepare them for jobs in the publishing industry, government sector, and educational institutions should they want a change of pace. Because of their accomplishments and professional standing, PhD-holding nurses are valued members of committees and organizations too.

Additionally, academic nursing programs require a large number of instructors. Individuals can think about teaching in an AS, BSN, MSN, or PhD course after completing their PhD degree. In their role as mentors and educational teachers, they develop, assess, and teach the course material for the program while mentoring nursing pupils. They will have the opportunity to influence nursing’s future and apply the information they have learned to raise the standard of caring for patients.

Critical thinking and problem solving 

Both critical thinking and problem-solving are skills that all nurses must possess to be successful in their careers. First, critical thinking is the process of taking in information, carefully analyzing it, and formulating a response. When choosing what to investigate, making informed decisions about a patient’s medical treatment, and expressing their thoughts to doctors, nurse professionals employ critical thinking. Being the first to examine new patients, nurses may also be the first to notice their symptoms and determine which treatments could be most beneficial using critical thinking. Likewise, they could employ critical thinking to better organize their daily schedule of tasks. Setting work priorities based on urgency gives nurses a greater opportunity to take initiative.

Scientific research during a PhD course helps nurses build and strengthen the ability to think critically and solve problems as they face them during their practice. Nurses learn how to gather data and comprehend what should be included in the research. They examine data to identify patterns, forecast future events, and draw scientific conclusions. They can assess the efficacy and safety of a certain medical treatment or product with the use of strong critical thinking abilities.

The takeaway

A PhD degree not only increases nurses’ knowledge but also broadens their perspective, sharpens their skills, and allows them to perform roles beyond bedside nursing. Today, nurses are needed in every department of a healthcare organization, and if these nurses are equipped with the ability to make evidence-based decisions and solve problems through research, then the level of healthcare will only improve further.

Lastly, nurses who are educated and skilled are a great asset for the future of nursing because they can serve as mentors and professors within their field to train young and aspiring nurses. Nursing students who learn under the guidance of nurse professors will be well-prepared to enter the workforce. Likewise, nursing professors and mentors will prove to be a great support for students as they have already been in students’ shoes and know all the hardships of student life. Earning a PhD degree in nursing can help nurses climb the career ladder, positioning them to take on leadership roles within a variety of healthcare settings. The ability to work effectively with diverse populations and teams is an integral aspect of PhD in Nursing programs and one to look for when deciding where to earn your degree.

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