PhD in Nursing
“My calling was not to be a one-to-one clinician anymore. It was to answer research questions and educate the next generation.”
Scott Harpin sought out a PhD in Nursing degree because a career in academia appealed to both his research and teaching interests. His experience earning a master’s degree in adolescent nursing and public health at the University of Minnesota gave him his first taste of conducting research. “That bug for research stuck in my head because my master’s thesis was pretty incredible,” Harpin said.
After earning his master’s degree, Harpin spent three years teaching nursing students at the University of Minnesota. The experience showed him the power of connecting with students. “I knew I was impacting the next generation of nurses by being their teacher. I loved doing that,” said Harpin. “My calling was not to be a one-to-one clinician anymore. It was to answer research questions and educate the next generation.”
The experience of earning a PhD degree was life-changing. “It was a bombardment of information at a different level that I never really experienced in other education settings,” said Harpin. “It was like going through one of those life events that you look back at and honor that time.”
As a PhD candidate, he conducted an attrition analysis to compare students who participated in a longitudinal research study with those who left. He appreciated the rigor of the coursework, his professors’ willingness to modify coursework to his interests and the interprofessional opportunities offered at the school. As a member of the University of Minnesota Medical Reserve Corps, he was able to assist with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Red River flood and a local tuberculosis outbreak.
After earning his PhD degree, he completed a one year postdoctoral fellowship in the Center for Adolescent Nursing before accepting an assistant professor position at University of Colorado College of Nursing, which had a history and legacy that resonated with him. His research now focuses on the health outcomes of vulnerable adolescent populations, specifically homeless youth. His areas of teaching include epidemiology, health promotion, nursing research, public health nursing and the professional role of nurses.