Organizational and Systems Leadership MSN Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership. Recognizes that organizational and systems leadership are c

Organizational and Systems Leadership MSN Essential II: Organizational and Systems Leadership. Recognizes that organizational and systems leadership are critical to the promotion of high quality and safe patient care. Leadership skills are needed that emphasize ethical and critical decision making, effective working relationships, and a systems-perspective (AACN, 2011, p. 4). Examining the course objectives, reading and assignments, please provide written evidence of how you have developed, created, applied and/or evaluated course content through your submitted assignments. You will then address how the identified MSN Essential Standards applies to the final outcomes of your learning. Provide goals for future learning experiences during your progression through the MSN Program Please provide at least one example (per standard) of how you will transfer this learning to your professional practice. The submission should be approximately two pages in length (a minimum of one page for each standard), APA formatted with a reference page into an electronic portfolio. A Survey of Current Valued Academic Leadership Qualities
in Nursing
Cheryl Delgado and Maureen M. Mitchell
AIM An informal survey was used to identify nurse faculty leadership qualities currently valued and relevant.
BACKGROUND The accelerating retirement rate for seasoned leaders has created a need for nurse educators and academic
leaders. Our school was concerned that we were not meeting students’ needs for today’s leadership challenges. We were
also interested in the experiences of leadership preparation.
METHOD This was a cross-sectional, online survey of faculty at top nursing schools as determined by US News &
World Report.
FINDINGS The top leadership qualities identified were integrity, communication clarity, and problem-solving ability. Current
challenges for leaders were finding qualified faculty, obtaining resources, and team building.
CONCLUSION The results may guide curricular adjustments and the transition to a new generation of nurse academic leaders.
KEY WORDS Academic Leadership Qualities – Nursing Education – Leadership Preparation – Mentoring
n the last 10 years, few research-based articles have been published on the topic of academic nursing leadership. A search of
the CINAHL research database found 607 articles or dissertations
listed using the search parameters nursing education and nursing
leadership. That number fell to 39 when nursing leadership was
changed to academic leadership, and only six articles and two dissertations were research reports. Almost all that has been published
in the nursing literature are opinions or strategies for teaching leadership, and almost all of this content is focused on workplace leadership/
management rather than academia, where leadership abilities are or
should be fostered.
The implication of this phenomenon is that studies done decades ago maintain relevance and are still appropriate, despite the
remarkable changes that have taken place in both the health care
industry and modern nursing education. The general consensus
appears to be that nursing leadership qualities are a constant amid
the frequently chaotic advances in nursing and health care. Based
on the belief that leadership is a valuable skill that can be taught
(Middleton, 2012), leadership as a skill is a part of all professional
nursing education programs at the undergraduate and graduate
levels and mandated by accrediting agencies (American Association
of Colleges of Nursing [AACN], 2008, 2011).
In a review of the Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) education
track at the authors’ school of nursing, we examined the extant literature on nursing academic leadership. Reflecting on this process and
About the Authors Cheryl Delgado, PhD, APRN-BC, CNL, is associate
professor, Cleveland State University School of Nursing, Cleveland,
Ohio. Maureen M. Mitchell, EdD, RN, is associate professor and graduate program director. Cleveland State University School of Nursing. For
more information, contact Dr. Delgado at
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing
doi: 10.5480/14-1496
10 January/February 2016
on our personal experience, we asked whether established views
would take nursing into the remainder of the 21st century. We
wanted to know if nurse educator students are adequately prepared
for leadership in the real world of modern nursing education.
It became apparent that a survey of nurses active in academia was
needed to determine the leadership qualities valued by current nurse educators and academic leaders in nursing education and how they prepared for leadership. We developed an informal survey plan, approved
by the Institutional Review Board of the university, which we deployed
in the summer of 2014. Our goal in developing this cross-sectional, descriptive survey was to determine if academic leadership education in
our program was focused on qualities and issues relevant for today’s
nurse education student and if our pedagogy could be improved.
The easiest and most accurate method to obtain this information was to ask nurses and leaders. To that end, we designed a
straightforward, one-time survey for nurse educators and academic nursing leaders, and used top university-based nursing education programs identified by U.S. News & World Report in 2013
as the sample pool.
With the assistance of SurveyMonkey, an online survey service,
the survey was sent to nurse faculty from 12 of the 15 highest ranked
universities; the three that were not surveyed did not have readily
available directories that clearly identified faculty from the nursing
school or college. SurveyMonkey was used to collect and compile
data for the inquiry without personal identifiers. One question asked
if the respondent was a nurse; if the reply to this question was not
in the affirmative, data from the respondent were discarded.
The survey instrument consisted of 27 questions focused on academic leadership qualities that participants identified as important,
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Academic Leadership Qualities
and the ranking of those qualities. The same was asked regarding
leadership challenges. A large shopping list of qualities traditionally
considered most important allowed respondents to select from the
list or provide their own valued qualities and challenges.
Participants were asked if they believed leadership could be
learned and about the nature of their leadership journey, formal or informal preparation, mentoring, and how they were preparing leaders
at this time. Demographic data included leadership positions held
and possible work-life factors that may be perceived to impact one’s
leadership position trajectory.
Sample and Data Collection
Because some faculty members had multiple listings or were not
readily identified as nurses, selective editing of the list of potential participants was necessary. All email addresses were obtained from the
faculty directories of the universities selected from the list of top universities. Many email addresses were returned as undeliverable. This
could have been the result of out-of-date faculty directories, retirement or separation from the college, school, or program, or typographical error in recording the addresses.
The survey was deployed at the end of the academic year when
faculty may be at peak activity and stress levels and when access
to the Internet through a workplace URL may be unavailable. This
may have had a significant negative impact on the survey return
rate, always low for unsolicited surveys. Of the 724 surveys that
were sent out, 52 were returned with enough data to be usable. The
small, nonrandom convenience sample is a limitation of the study
for research purposes, but for us, the results were valuable in identifying the trends in academic leadership we were curious about.
Descriptive statistics were calculated by an SPSS-18PAW program. Some questions contained an “other” option for clarification
or additional information, and these responses were reported as written by the participants. While this information did not rise to the level
of qualitative data for formal analysis, many comments provided insights that were valuable in the interpretation of the results.
The survey respondents were primarily female, Caucasian, married,
and in nursing for more than 30 years; about half had been nurse educators. The mean time that respondents expected to remain active
in nursing education was just over seven years. The majority were
prepared at the doctoral level, with a PhD or other research doctorate
or doctor of nursing practice (DNP) or other practice doctorate. A
summary of demographic characteristics is presented in Table 1.
Most Important Leadership Qualities
When asked to identify the qualities they considered most important
for academic leaders in nursing, the respondents identified the top three
in rank order as: integrity, clarity in communication, and problem solving ability. The least important quality was seen as a track record in research. All responses and their rankings are presented in Figure 1.
Greatest Challenges for Academic Nurse Leaders
The respondents identified finding qualified faculty, obtaining resources for the program, and team building as the three top challenges
they encountered. Academic legal issues were ranked last on this list.
Respondents took advantage of the “other” category option to
add comments such as challenges that occur in “implementing
decisions . . . that you disagree with” and “decreased funding from
Nursing Education Perspectives
state and federal agencies.” Responses to this question are summarized in Figure 2.
Can Academic Leadership Be Learned?
More than three quarters (78 percent) of the respondents said that
they believed that academic leadership can be learned, and 22 percent replied “maybe.” No respondents were willing to state that academic leadership cannot be learned. Just over half (53.1 percent) had
participated in a leadership program or class other than in their basic
nursing preparation, and most of these respondents (78.8 percent)
believed that it had made a difference for them.
Leadership training most often came on the job (75 percent)
or through mentoring (70.8 percent). Equal numbers had attended
classes on leadership in graduate programs (27.1 percent) or formal
leadership programs external to their place of employment (27.1 percent). Programs that the respondents had attended included those
sponsored by the American College of Nurse Midwives, Sigma Theta
Tau, the Oncology Nursing Society, the John Hartford Foundation,
the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Macy Foundation.
Only 10 percent had participated in a formal leadership program at
their home institution.
The most helpful leadership experience came from mentoring
(53.5 percent) and on-the-job experiences (30.2 percent). Only
22.5 percent reported not having a mentor, while most (61.2 percent)
found mentors on their own; a small number (16.3 percent) had mentors assigned to them. Respondents voiced a willingness to serve as
mentors “under the right circumstances” (24.5 percent), and about
three quarters had already done so, most (61.2 percent) informally
or as assigned mentors for junior faculty (14.3 percent). No respondents stated they had no interest in mentoring.
As could be expected in the highest ranking nurse education
programs, employing institutions offered all levels of professional
nursing education: BSN (83.3 percent), MSN/MA (95.8 percent),
DNP (89.6 percent), and PhD/EdD (93.8 percent). The majority included leadership as a course option or embedded leadership within
the curriculum (83.3 percent). Over half of the respondents (55.1 percent) taught leadership from an experiential background having held
leadership positions.
Current titles in academia held by respondents included dean/
director (23.8 percent), assistant dean and director, chair, vice chair,
and coordinator (10.6 percent). When asked how long an academic
leader such as a director or dean should hold this position, the majority (83.3 percent) responded that the position should be held for a
set term (not specified) with renewal possible. Only a small number
(4.2 percent) thought that this leadership position should be rotated
among faculty members.
Leadership Barriers
Barriers to obtaining a leadership position were examined from two
perspectives. Respondents were asked to describe barriers they encountered in their personal leadership development that occurred on
the job; they were also asked about home/family responsibilities that
might be seen as affecting their ability to function in a leadership role.
Their answers, while not thematically analyzed, fell into easily distinguished categories: time management and support, which had three
subcategories (administrative, collegial, and mentors).
Time management was often connected to complaints of unrealistic expectations, especially in research, and lack of appreciation
for the role responsibilities of the clinical nurse educator. Other
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Delgado and Mitchell
Table 1: Demographic Characteristics of the Respondents
Respondent Characteristic
Marital Status
Years in Nursing
Years as a Nurse Educator
Estimated Remaining Active Years in Nursing
Highest Level of Education
6.25 percent
93.75 percent
93.75 percent
4.17 percent
No responses
No responses
Declined to answer
2.08 percent
2.13 percent
78.72 percent
10.64 percent
0 percent
2.13 percent
Committed Relationship
6.38 percent
14 to 52 years
31.83 years
1 to 32 years
15.5 years
15.45 years
1-30 years
7.17 years
PhD/other research Doctorate
68.75 percent
DNP/other practice Doctorate
16.67 percent
14.58 percent
0 percent
challenges related to poor working relationships with administrators
positioned above them; poor personal relations with persons above
them in the chain of command; and perceived lack of financial support for programs. Some respondents felt that they were penalized
for “not having the right degree.”
12 January/February 2016
Collegial relationships were also seen as a challenge. Some
respondents felt that acceptance as a leader for their leadership activities was subject to resistance from colleagues who were “biased,”
had “tunnel vision,” or were in competition with respondents. One felt
that closed research cliques created a separation from more clinically
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Academic Leadership Qualities
Leadership Qualities Ranked by Importance
oriented teaching faculty. The lack of a mentor was also identified as
a challenge.
Personal Challenges
Challenges originating from family responsibilities were categorized
as children (50.0 percent), elderly parent(s) (41.7 percent), spouses
(16.7 percent), and siblings who required care (12.5 percent). It
was not possible to determine if the responsibilities identified in
this study were greater than those experienced in other professions.
Nurses responding to this survey seemed philosophical; one
commented that “the children grew up and the relatives died.”
The fact that respondents had multiple family care responsibilities is significant. Previous research has shown that family care responsibilities can affect the decision to seek leadership positions
(Goodrich, 2014).
There were several limitations to this survey, the most significant being
the possible self-selection of the sample in combination with the low response rate (7.2 percent). The low return rate is likely attributable to multiple factors, such as the timing of survey deployment, which coincided
with the end of academic year, the historically low response rate for
Nursing Education Perspectives
unsolicited surveys, and the limitation of a single contact with
It is known that online surveys have a lower response rate than
paper questionnaires (McNulty, 2008). The Pew Research Center
(2012) has noted a trend of diminishing returns on surveys, from 36
percent in 1997 to 9 percent in 2012, although it found that samples
remained representative of the population. This finding by the Pew
Research Center was encouraging for the authors, but the results
obtained from this survey should be viewed with caution. To use art
as a metaphor, the results of this study are impressionistic works
comprised of soft-edged figures that suggest, rather than clearly delineate, representational images.
Years of Experience
The demographics of the sample in this study indicate that nurse educators are, for the most part, nurses with considerable clinical and
teaching experience. More than half of the respondents identified
themselves as administrators, with titles ranging from coordinator to
dean. The respondents averaged more than three decades in nursing, with nearly half of those years as nurse educators. While these individuals represent a valuable resource for the nursing profession,
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Delgado and Mitchell
Leadership Challenges Ranked in Order of Importance
they also reflect a less desirable situation, that is, an aging academic
leadership workforce.
Although a trend has been noted for experienced nurses to
delay retirement (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 2014), this
serves only to postpone the exodus and does not resolve the
existing crisis, evidenced by the difficulty many nursing programs
experience in finding qualified faculty (AACN, 2011; Nardi & Gyurko,
2013). Not surprisingly, this difficulty was ranked first on the list
of challenges for academic nurse leaders. From a more optimistic
perspective, a study focused on transitions to the nurse educator
role found that nurse educators with less than five years of experience were ready for and expressed intention to stay in the role
(Goodrich, 2014).
Practice and Research Doctorates and Academia
The impact of the emergence of practice doctorates, such as the
DNP, on nurse education programs is not as yet discussed in depth
in the literature. Although some faculty members hold this degree, it is
not clear how these faculty are used in the education workforce.
Some program directories used to identify potential respondents
for this study listed no faculty members with DNP degrees. In other
directories, nurses with this credential appeared to be clinical faculty
for undergraduate programs and graduate-level programs for advanced practice nurses, such as nurse practitioners.
14 January/February 2016
Inclusion of the DNP into faculty positions may be a strategy
to increase faculty numbers, but the AACN does not consider the
DNP to be ready for university faculty roles without additional preparation
(2004). The emergence of the practice doctorate will have an as yet
indeterminate effect on academic leadership, which may present a
challenge in the future.
Diversity in academic preparation of nursing academicians (PhD,
EdD, DNP) may also create team-building challenges, identified in the
survey as the third most important challenge for academic nurse
leaders. Comments expanding the responses to the challenge question included statements that some faculty felt in competition with,
did not have the “right degree,” or were not respected by other faculty. This was noted by respondents who self-identified as practice
rather than research-oriented academicians. The existence of multiple entry-level paths to licensure, and the growth of layered practice
degrees, creates a confusing picture of the profession, not only to outsiders, but for students who are considering career goals. We view the
apparent development of competition among degrees as a negative.
Preparation as an Educator
While the lack of training in teaching techniques is recognized for
the DNP, a similar situation exists for at least some PhD programs
(Chase & Pruitt, 2006). Although some opportunity for acquiring teaching skills may occur, curriculum development and evaluation are not
Copyright © 2016 National League for Nursing. Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Academic Leadership Qualities
usually part of the preparation for a research role. It appears that
these skills were most often acquired on the job, as were other leadership skills noted by the survey respondents. Only mentoring rated
higher in leadership preparation strategies…
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