Rebecca Boettcher
Director of Student Services

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The purpose of our online Nursing PhD program at the University of Missouri – Kansas City (UMKC) is to prepare nurse scientists, capable of performing original research using a variety of methodologies. We develop nurse leaders for research and academic careers, adept at advancing the discipline of nursing through research, education, and improvement in health care outcomes. The University of Missouri – Kansas City is one of 30 Universities in the U.S. that has nursing, medicine, dentistry, and pharmacy degree programs on the same campus; thus interprofessional collaboration, with faculty from other health care disciplines, for educational and research activities, is possible. The PhD program is delivered using on-line and distance education modalities. Participation is required in two 4 day summer institutes, one during each of your first two years as a student.

As a student in the School of Nursing and Health Studies (SoNHS) at UMKC, nationally recognized and funded nurse scientists will guide your educational pursuit using a mentor-match model. Doctoral faculty members are conducting innovative research on topics such as muscle biology, community-based interventions, adherence to treatment and behavioral change across the lifespan, analyses of large data sets and secondary analyses, and teaching, learning, and assessment strategies in nursing education.

Your individualized program of study is developed in collaboration between you, your faculty-mentor, and other members of your supervisory committee. You and your faculty-mentor will meet regularly throughout the program, providing guidance as you develop research skills. Graduation requirements include a presentation at a professional conference, a first-authored publication in a peer-reviewed journal related to your research area of interest, successful completion of your comprehensive examination, and fulfilling all the steps of the dissertation process.

Research Areas of Focus

The UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies PhD Program supports developing nursing knowledge in three distant areas, clinical/biological research, health systems/outcomes research, and nursing education research.

Clinical/Biological Research: “The scope of clinical research ranges from acute to chronic care experiences across the entire life span: health promotion and preventive care to end-of-life: and care for individuals, families, and communities in diverse settings” (AACN, 2006, para. 9).

Examples of Faculty Clinical Research

  • Tendon, ligament, and musculoskeletal research
  • Health behavioral change interventions
  • Self-management of chronic disease
  • Fall prevention in the elderly
  • Cancer treatment and outcomes
  • Palliative care and End-of-life care
  • Quality of life for patients, caregivers, and health professionals

Health Systems and Outcome Research: “Nursing research on health systems and outcomes seeks to identify ways that the organization and delivery of health care influence quality, cost, and the experience of patients and their families…. Research regarding issues of organization, delivery, financing, quality … behavior… and outcomes” (AACN, 2006, para. 13).

Examples of Faculty Health Systems and Outcome Research

  • Community Settings and Social Justice Issues
  • Large data set statistical analysis of health information and clinical trial data
  • Social Determinants of Health related to Cultural and Health Disparities
  • Veteran and Family Distress

Nursing Education Research: “Nursing education research centers on developing and testing more efficient educational processes, identifying new ways to incorporate technology in order to enhance learning, and discovering more effective approaches to promoting lifelong learning and commitment to leadership…. The continuous supply of well-educated nurses is critical to maintain and enhance our nation’s health… new strategies for recruiting and retaining bright young men and women from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds into nursing must be developed and tested. New models of nursing education are needed to prepare nurses for faculty and research positions earlier in their careers” (AACN, 2006, para 14).

Examples of Faculty Nursing Education Research

  • Teaching Modalities, focused on teaching/learning interventions that improve patient outcomes
  • Teaching Outcomes and Assessment strategies to assure NCLEX-RN pass rates and clinical competency
  • Developing faculty capable of engaging students in life-long professional leaning and capable of proving evidence-based care
  • Developing strategies to recruit and retain students from diverse backgrounds in accordance with the diverse health care population in the US

Examples of PhD Students’ Dissertation Topics

  • Quality of Life of Malignant Brain Tumor Patients Undergoing Gamma Knife Radiosurgery
  • The Grief Experience of HIV-Positive Gay Men who Lose Partners to AIDS
  • Adult Hemodialysis Patients’ Perception concerning choice among renal replacement therapies
  • The Nurse Practitioner’s Experience with Obese Patients
  • A Phenomenological Study of Family members of Long-Term Critically Ill Adult Patients and their Perceived Needs
  • Instrument Development: The Nursing Career Search
  • Barriers to Help-Seeking for Psychological Distress among Students attending a Small Rural University
  • Repetitive Neonatal Pain and Neurodevelopment Outcomes at Two Years of Age: A Correlational Study
  • The Effect of a Cancer Diagnosis on Hope and Resilience: A Correlational, Longitudinal Study
  • Does learning with high-Fidelity Human Patient Simulation in Nursing School Impact Career Retention during the First Two Years of Licensure?
  • Understanding Family Violence Assessment Practices of Pediatric Emergency Department Nurses and Physicians
  • Impact of a Novel Relaxation Method of Touch on Neonatal Neurobehavioral Development among Very Preterm Infants
  • Social Support and Smoking among Midwest LGBT Adults
  • Developing Critical Thinking Skills in Undergraduate Nursing Students using Strategic Management Simulations


PhD Options