Nursing Leaders in Academia

Student Author(s)

Katrina Bulthuis

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Emilie Dykstra Goris, PhD, RN, Dr. Melissa Bouws, PhD, RN, Department of Nursing

Document Type


Event Date



Nursing leaders have a formative role in nursing programs; collaborating with community partners and stakeholders, and supporting faculty and other nursing leaders. The purpose of this study was to identify positive and negative themes and examine related factors impacting experiences of nursing leaders. Identity Theory, borrowed from psychology, provided this study’s framework because it explains role-related behaviors and their influences. Qualitative descriptive methods were utilized by manually coding five audiorecorded interviews with nursing leaders in Midwestern United States. Significant statements were coded as positive or negative and grouped into themes. Each interviewee’s statements were balanced to calculate “net balance.” Length of time in position and program size were considered. Limitations included all programs from the Midwest, no male leaders, and leaders with exceptionally high or low satisfaction levels may have been more eager to participate. Results showed that four of five leaders’ experiences were net positive. The leader with the least experience reported the highest number of negative statements within the sub-themes of “no preparation,” “coercion into role,” and “hours.” These, with “faculty” and “stressors,” constituted the five most negative sub-themes. The five most positive subthemes included “fulfillment,” “student contact,” “potential for change,” “living out the mission,” and “influence on others.” Experiences were shaped by length of time in role, supporting the notion that transitions into leadership positions lack support. Creating support to allow for greater recruitment and retention of future nursing leaders and ease transition into these positions is recommended.

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