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Motivations and Barriers for Saudi Nurses to Pursue a Doctoral Degree

Background/ Purpose: A shortage of Saudi PhD prepared nursing school faculty and a limited number of advanced degree programs in Saudi Arabia, are preventing the education of enough nurses to meet growing healthcare demands and the preparation of nurses for faculty roles. The purpose of this study was to identify motivating and barrier factors that may influence the decision of a nurse to seek further education at the doctorate level. Theoretical Framework: Cross’s (1981) Chain-of-Response Model was used as to guide this study and the interpretation of findings. Methods: A mixed method design was used for this study. A questionnaire was distributed to four groups of nurses using email and social media methods. A total of 161 responses were obtained from nurses working in Saudi Arabia and internationally. The analysis strategy included descriptive statistics, ANOVA, ANCOVA, and factor analysis methods. Qualitative data analysis involved creating codes and themes to create categories of responses that could be compared with the quantitative data. Findings: There was a statistically significant difference between group membership (decided and undecided PhD study) and dispositional barriers, but no statistical difference between motivation scores and gender for either group. Analysis indicated institutional barriers were more important for female nurses in pursuing higher education. The length of time in practice or experience did not statistically impact the decision to pursue a doctoral degree, nor was it associated with motivation or barrier scores, or group membership. Analysis of the qualitative data identified important motivation and barriers factors including prior success in study or work, the need to advance nursing knowledge, personal and work aspirations, and a belief in the importance of improving professional nursing and care outcomes. Support from family members, work colleagues and fellow students were important in deciding to study for a PhD. Conclusions: This study identified motivation and barrier factors that were unique to Saudi Arabian nursing students. Knowledge of these can be used to inform policy and practice aimed at increasing the number of nursing faculty necessary to grow the Saudi nursing workforce.
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