In general, students enter academic nursing programs to prepare themselves as clinicians, not researchers. Students and future clinical researchers often are not aware of the possibility of becoming clinical researchers, have incorrect assumptions about research, or believe that research would simply not be a good career match for them (Woods, 2003).2

Clinical Research as a Career

One of the principal pushes in the nursing field is to encourage research as a career track; B.S.N.-Ph.D. and fast-track programs are the most common mechanisms. Development of an honors program at the B.S.N. level is a positive step toward this goal. A small number of institutions offer undergraduate and graduate education and postdoctoral training in an accelerated manner and provide mentoring throughout the education (McGivern, 2003). Nursing is a field populated largely by women; multiple relocations of families for graduate, postdoctoral, and finally permanent faculty positions may not be a possibility. Another problem in nursing is that the shortage is so great that every faculty member is expected to educate more people to replenish the workforce rather than build the science (McBride, 2003).


The scientific community should encourage children’s exposure to the nursing field as early as elementary and middle school to prepare a diverse and representative clinical research workforce. Graduates from baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing demonstrate a lack of racial and ethnic diversity (see Table 4-1). A more representative workforce will require continuing and seamless opportunities to nurture interests in clinical research careers. There is a multiplicity of programs—some that involve children in grade school, some that engage middle schoolers, and some that work with high school and college students—but they are not always coordinated.3

Priority should be given to retaining, not just recruiting, a representative and diverse workforce. Changing the cultural demographics of nurse


Nancy Fugate Woods, R.N., Ph.D.,Workshop Presentation: 2003.



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