Dear Career Doctor:
I am in a doctorate program (DNP- doctor of nursing practice). My advisor is very sharp and does little to encourage me. He pulled a project I had worked on for several months with another advisor and made me start over. He sends me letters stating that I may not discuss my residency or clinical inquiry project with anyone but him.
I am 46 years old and I feel like I am being treated like a child. I would like a different advisor but it does not seem like that is an option in this program. Is an advisor supposed to encourage and support me? What do you suggest?
Your advisor is supposed to support projects and students academically worthy of getting a Ph.D. If your advisor feels you or your project is not up to par, he may not be encouraging. I wonder if this is the case since you say that you are in a doctorate program, but the correct term is doctoral program. Some people may think this is a small grammatical mistake, but others would feel it is unworthy of someone going for a doctorate.
On the other hand, it sounds bizarre that an advisor would tell a student not to discuss her project or residency with anyone. Unless you are working on a major scientific breakthrough, something sounds very wrong here.
My first piece of advice is to ask your advisor for feedback on how he views your academic performance. If his evaluation is negative and you feel you are being unfairly rated or criticized, stay calm and polite when you defend yourself.
It seems only fair that you should be able to request a change of advisors if you feel yours is unfairly negative. It may be politically risky, but you should be able to go to the head of the Nursing Practice Department and request a change. If your advisor is the head of the department, it is even more risky, but you could go to whoever is his boss and ask for a change