Going back to school can result in exponential payback. But getting your DNP or PhD can be a grueling, arduous process that will leave you in pieces, right? It doesnt have to be. These expert tips, gathered from nurses who have reached their higher learning destination or are on that path, may make the acquisition of your next degree a little easier (and maybe even enjoyable).
Keep your masters degree work handy
The work you completed while finishing your masters degree is a great resource as you decide on a potential area of study for your dissertation or capstone project. Take some time to look over the resources youve acquired and file the items you think you may refer to later on.
Start your literature search early
A jumpstart on your literature search will help you pinpoint the direction of your final project or dissertation. You may have an idea of what kind of research youll conduct, but a literature search might lead you to discover a completely different angle that you wouldnt have thought of on your own.
Use citation software right off the bat
Invest in a good citation software program, like EndNote, that will keep tabs on everything you may read and reference in your later work. Citation software keeps track of your references in the format you desire and makes in-text citation more manageable.
Be realistic with your data collection timeline
With uncontrollable variables, such as finding patients who meet the established criteria, data collection often takes longer than you might envision. Make a timeline for the data collection you would achieve in a perfect world, and then add at least a few months extra for good measure. Setting realistic expectations will keep you from getting overwhelmed when youre knee deep in the process.
Form a study group
Having a group of peers to meet with regularly has multiple benefits. Your colleagues will bring a variety of experiences and sources of their own to the table that may be invaluable to your work. Having a level of informal accountability will keep you on the right track if you find yourself floundering. And sometimes you might just need to vent. Getting your frustrations out there to sympathetic ears can do wonders for your own morale and productivity level.
While you conduct your literature review and gather a plethora of research, take care to avoid going down a road that doesnt directly relate to your project initiative or thesis. Continually check in to see if the research youre using helps to tell the story of your overall work.
Heed your committees recommendations
Its natural to become focused on certain details of your research while losing sight of the final picture. Thats why its essential to listen to your committees recommendations with open ears and follow through with the feedback you receive. Ultimately, you want to succeed. Following your committees advice will make it easier in the long run to do just that.
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