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Physician-Scientist Workforce (PSW) Report 2014

Summary of Challenges Facing the Nurse-Scientist Workforce

All clinical scientists face similar challenges although the extent of the challenges on a spectrum varies from discipline to discipline. Nurse-scientists especially are faced with:

  • Balancing clinical and research responsibilities,
  • The fact that ‘team science’ and interdisciplinary work is essential for addressing the complex problems facing clinician-scientists, but it also takes more time and probably additional training to work together,
  • The aging nursing workforce and need to speed up the pipeline in nursing education to meet increasing demands for complex nursing care and research,
  • The impact of gender on ability to devote time to research skills (i.e., the majority of nurses and an increasing proportion of MDs and veterinarians are women who still assume the bulk of child rearing responsibilities).

As the need for nursing education and research and for nurses to engage with inter-professional research teams has grown, the numbers of nurses with a PhD in nursing or a related field have not kept pace. The main reasons for this lag are:

  • An inadequate pool of nurses with PhDs to draw upon,
  • Faculty salaries and benefits that are not comparable to those of nurses with advanced degrees working in clinical settings, and
  • A culture that promotes obtaining clinical experience prior to continuing graduate education.62

62 IOM, 2011.