Motivations and challenges of Israeli nurses on their journey to a PhD: A qualitative study

Rachel Sharabani, Yehudit Od Cohen, Inga Shalev, Sara Nissim, Ilya Kagan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: This qualitative study aimed to examine the motivations and challenges encountered by Israeli nurses during their journey to achieve a doctoral degree (PhD). Background: The increasing numbers of nurses studying for a doctoral degree may contribute to improving nursing education, expanding the body of knowledge and promoting the status of nursing as a research profession. However, many countries have reported a shortage in nurses with doctoral degrees. Design: Qualitative content analysis study using semi-structured interviews. Methods: Sixteen senior nurses (mean age 47.35 years, 75% women) who completed their doctoral studies in the past five years were interviewed. The interviews were transcribed and their content was analyzed inductively. COREQ checklist was used to report the study. Results: The ability to persevere in doctoral studies was related to the support provided by the learning environment as well as to family support. External barriers were related to administrative bureaucracy, tedious search for a mentor, unsupportive workplace and socio-economic burdens. PhD studies were perceived as a means for self-fulfillment, while major motivators were aspiration for professional advancement, a responsibility for promoting the image of nursing and a lack of recognition by colleagues. Conclusions: Nurses study for doctoral degrees in order to advance their career and achieve personal fulfillment, as well as to increase the prestige of the nursing as profession. To allow nurses with PhD to fulfill their abilities and to advance the nursing profession, their research and academic support should be increased, and appropriate professional positions should be developed. Tweetable abstract: This study highlights the facilitators of doctoral studies such as family and academic support, a strong need for personal and professional fulfillment, and a desire for professional change, and obstacles such as academic and bureaucratic barriers, low wage increases, and a lack of recognition of nursing by the medical world.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103584
JournalNurse Education in Practice
StatePublished - Mar 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Challenges
  • Motivators
  • Nurses
  • PhD studies
  • Qualitative research


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