Dr. Lisa Carter-Harris
Dr. Lisa Carter-Harris

Since the University of Louisville School of Nursing began a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing program in 2005, many of its graduates have started careers as nursing faculty at colleges and universities throughout the nation.

“There is a shortage of doctorally-prepared nurses to teach the next generation; in October 2014, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reported a 6.9 percent national nurse faculty vacancy rate,” said Marcia Hern, Ed.D, C.N.S., R.N., “We are graduating nurse scientists prepared to generate new knowledge; collaborate with other disciplines to improve the delivery of health care; assume research, leadership, executive, public policy and teaching roles; and affect health policy through the application of scientific knowledge.”

The AACN identified more than 1,200 faculty vacancies through a survey of nursing schools one year ago, and pointed to the need to create an additional 125 new faculty positions to meet student demand. The nursing organization cites budget constraints, an aging faculty, and increasing job competition from clinical sites as top reasons for the educator gap. Read more facts about the shortage.

Since the inception of UofL’s PhD nursing program, the School of Nursing has graduated 15 students, and six received competitive postdoctoral fellowships at Case Western Reserve University, Emory University, Indiana University and Michigan State University.

PhD Program Director Carla Hermann, Ph.D., R.N., says these postdoctoral fellowships speak to the quality of the program and the preparation of UofL graduates.

“The expertise of our faculty and student diversity is a point of pride,” Hermann said. “We are a community of scholars, and our students receive hands-on experience with researchers as they progress through our program. Our students are involved in writing grants, collecting data, writing abstracts and manuscripts, presenting at conferences – all facets of the research process.”

The school’s 2015 Distinguished Alumna Fellow and three-time graduate of UofL, Melissa Pinto, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., says she is grateful for her education at UofL and for faculty mentors that made a lifelong impression on her development.

“I had solid scientific training and advice from UofL faculty mentors. Their guidance resulted in my ability to obtain cutting-edge multidisciplinary NIH KL2 career development training at Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic post-graduation. There, with colleagues, I developed a novel technology-based intervention in the area of adolescent and young adult mental health that has been of interest to the general public and the national policy makers,” said Pinto, an assistant professor at Emory University.

Lisa Carter-Harris, Ph.D., A.P.R.N., A.N.P.–C., assistant professor, Indiana University, says the School of Nursing PhD program gave her the foundation to grow as a scholar and transition into a postdoctoral fellowship.

“The faculty are dedicated to the personal and professional growth of every student, exposing them to foundational knowledge, methodologies, and experiences that foster unfettered development and advancement,” she said.

The school offers both BSN-PhD and MSN-PhD tracks. Each student’s plan of study includes required core courses and elective courses based on individual interests. In addition to course work, students receive intensive mentoring by experienced faculty researchers to facilitate student success in research, grant writing and dissemination activities.


For more information, visit the School of Nursing PhD website.

Julie Heflin
Julie oversees digital content for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She began her UofL career on the Health Sciences Center campus in 2007. Prior to this, Julie was a journalist with WFPL (Louisville Public Media), and occasionally filed reports for National Public Radio.