Friday, May 8, 2020
Earning a Ph.D. is no easy feat. It took years of hard work, dedication, and focus to go through the program which included doctoral-level classes in psychology and statistics (a Ph.D. is a research degree); classes in which the doctoral learner begins to understand the discipline of academic writing. There was also a residency required. I was in the program for over seven years and the dissertation itself took four and a half years. During the dissertation itself, I went through two divorces, the birth of a child, and a major heart attack. My dissertation was a meta-analysis, which is considered an advanced research methodology, that required me to defend it to the College of Doctoral Studies before I ever started my primary work. GCU recently hit the milestone of conferring 1,000 doctoral degrees - of those, my dissertation was the only one using a meta-analytical methodology (GCU is 71 years old and started offering graduate programs in the late 1980s when it transitioned from Grand Canyon College to Grand Canyon University).
People use credentials all the time, both academic and professional, to convey their standing. Earned credentials vary in value depending on the field and profession, but they are valuable to the person who holds them. Some use an alphabet soup of credentials while others use their most advanced degree and everything in between. I choose to use my Ph.D. credential because it defines my aspirations and endeavors. It also sets me apart because it is a terminal research degree held by only 2% of the population in the U.S. I only use the salutation "Dr." in the academic world, which is standard practice; students, other faculty members, and administrators call me Dr. Gartrell. I definitely don't correct people when they call me Mr. Gartrell, that would be pompous and rude, and frankly, it isn't me.
So, I use my Ph.D. credential and I do not apologize for doing so, it was well earned and I am proud of my accomplishment. For those who criticize me for using my credential, well...I would put up my life accomplishments against yours any day, any time, but life is too short and time is too precious to waste on your insecurities. If anyone is interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in any field I would be happy to discuss it with you. If you are considering it, be prepared for the most intense work of your life and to go through many ups and downs. In the U.S., Ph.D. programs have about a 50% drop-out rate because it is HARD, very hard. That said, all it takes is the determination to finish and you'll get there.