Education is a driving force in improving the health and welfare of communities globally. Doctoral education of nurses has been identified as a critical factor for provision of leadership in practice, scholarship, research, policy and education. Since the genesis of doctoral education in nursing in the USA in the 1930s, this movement has burgeoned to over 273 doctoral programs in over 30 countries globally. The present article seeks to identify the issues and challenges in nursing doctoral education globally, and those encountered by doctoral program graduates in meeting the challenges of contemporary health care systems. Information was derived from a comprehensive literature review. Electronic databases and the Internet, using the Google search engine, were searched using the key words 'doctoral education'; 'nursing'; 'International Network for Doctoral Education in Nursing'; 'global health'; 'international research collaboration'. Doctoral education has been a critical force in developing nurse leaders in education, management, policy and research domains. An absence of consensus in terminology and of accurate minimum data sets precludes comparison and debate across programs. The complexity and dynamism of contemporary globalized communities render significant challenges in the conduct of doctoral programs. Addressing funding issues and faculty shortages are key issues for doctoral programs, especially those in developing countries, to achieve an identity uniquely their own. These challenges can also afford considerable opportunities for discussion, debate and the formulation of innovative and collaborative solutions to advance nursing knowledge and scholarship. In spite of discrete differences between countries and regions, the similarities in the issues facing the development of doctoral programs internationally are more striking than the differences. The harnessing of a global collective to address these issues will likely serve to not only forge the future viability of doctoral education of nurses but to improve the health and well-being of communities. This paper proposes international collaborative strategies to address a number of the challenges identified., Copyright (C) 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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