PhD program to shape the next generation of nurse scientists

Photo of Dr. Kathleen Griffith
09/10/2018 10:00

Beginning in fall 2019, GW will have a new addition to its degree program lineup – a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

The PhD in Nursing will be a three year, full-time 57-credit program, delivered in an executive-style format, that aims to train the next generation of nurse scientists and educators.

“GW has been a long-time contributor to the doctoral education of nurses through our Doctor of Nursing Practice and other health science degrees,” said Dean Pamela Jeffries. “Creating a PhD in Nursing will provide another opportunity for students to pursue their doctoral education, particularly here in the nation’s capital.”

Kathleen Griffith, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, a cancer symptom researcher and oncology nurse practitioner, was appointed as assistant dean of the PhD program and will lead the initiative.

“Our proximity to federal agencies, government and policymakers offer students a valuable learning experience with the opportunity to augment classroom work with DC-based research experiences,” Dr. Griffith said. "Nurses bring a unique perspective to the research and standardization of patient care. They often have the most interaction with patients and ask highly relevant questions that lead to improved health outcomes."

The school’s PhD Exploration and Development Committee, commissioned by Dr. Jeffries, underscored the need for a terminal research degree with three main points. First, the discovery of new knowledge allows the development of the nursing discipline, which ultimately results in improved patient and other health care outcomes. Second, due in part to accelerated retirement of an aging workforce, the nursing faculty shortage requires new nurses with terminal research degrees to take their places. Finally, increasing the number of PhD-prepared partners for DNP-prepared nurses will result in more rapid dissemination of interventions to improve outcomes as nurses play a pivot role in direct patient care.

“GW’s PhD in Nursing will offer students the opportunity to focus on a wide range of research areas — including policy, health disparities, chronic disease management, women’s health, early childhood development and more,” Dr. Griffith said.

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