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A doctor talks to a student.

How to Decide if Teaching is the Next Step in Your Health Care Career

Tomorrow’s nurses, dentists, nutritionists and other professionals need expert educators to teach and guide them. For health care professionals interested in a career in education, entering a doctorate program could be the right step forward. Laura Rauscher, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS, CTMH, program director for Logan University’s Doctor of Health Professions Education (DHPE), shares who is a good fit for a doctorate in education program, how to choose one that aligns with your career goals and more.

Laura Rauscher, PhD, LPC, NCC, ACS, CTMH, program director for Logan University’s Doctor of Health Professions Education

Why might someone working in health care consider pivoting to teaching?

Many people in health care consider it a privilege to teach future generations. They not only get to work in their respective fields, but they can also train others so they can succeed. These individuals play a critical role in ensuring the ability to deliver high-quality patient care is passed down to the future leaders of their professions.

What experience do health care professionals need to be effective educators?

It is important that they understand educational learning theories and teaching techniques. Most people working in health care have clinical experience and content expertise, but they don’t know how to impart that information to others. Mastering teaching skills such as curriculum development, assessment and effective andragogical strategies helps educators develop quality learning experiences.

How can a doctorate in education help health care professionals take the next step in their careers?

A doctorate degree in education closes the skill gap between being a clinician and a clinical educator. Most training for health care professionals focuses on providing discipline-specific information, but a doctorate in education teaches you how to effectively share that knowledge with learners.

Who is a good fit for a doctorate in education program?

Any health care professional who is passionate about teaching is a good candidate. However, most health care professionals perform an educator’s role even if their official titles aren’t “teacher” or “professor.” So, doctorates in education are for anyone who wants to ensure they can effectively apply their expertise to educating future practitioners. As with any doctoral degree, those applying to a program must have earned a master’s degree or higher.

What is typically required to apply to a doctorate in education program?

Application to a doctorate in education program depends on the specifics for each program. Most require a minimum GPA and master’s degree or higher, while DHPE programs request a clinical background. Some require applicants to take the GRE General Test or another type of entrance exam. There may also be an interview, or you might need to draft a letter of interest outlining why you want to pursue the degree.

How can prospective students determine which doctorate in education program is right for them?

Flexibility is important because many students have full-time jobs. Look for a program that allows you to learn on your own schedule with a part-time or full-time course load. Programs taught 100 percent online also tend to be more convenient. Additionally, the program you choose should have experiential learning components such as an applied research project.

Perhaps most importantly, you should look for a program that gives you an opportunity to learn more about it before you apply. Whether it’s through webinars or talking with a program director or faculty member, you should be able to track down information like the length of time it will take to complete your degree, how much it will cost, and if it aligns with your career goals.

What can people expect to learn over the course of a doctorate in education program?

They will develop an understanding of how teaching works. Everyone has had good teachers and bad teachers. Although our opinions on some of them may be based on their personalities, a lot has to do with how well they deliver information to their students. You can become a good teacher with a doctorate program that offers courses in teaching education theory, curriculum development, course design using quality metrics, learner assessment, academic leadership, education technology, statistics and education research.

What career paths are available to those who have earned a doctorate degree in education?

Everyone pursuing a doctorate in education will have a different clinical background and goals for how they want to use the degree once they graduate. However, most want to assume the role of teacher or trainer in their respective fields. Whether they choose to become a health educator, university faculty member or university administrator, the career possibilities are endless.

Connect with Dr. Rauscher to learn more about Logan University’s Doctor of Health Professions Education by sending her an email at Laura.Rauscher@Logan.edu.