Exploring the Roles of Clinical Nurse Leaders in Practice: A Qualitative Study

Exploring the Roles of Clinical Nurse Leaders in Practice: A Qualitative Study

Author: 
Kimberly Purcell-Houck
Program of study: 
Ph.D./NUR
Abstract: 
The purpose of this hermeneutic phenomenological research was to explore the lived experiences of Clinical Nurse Leaders (CNL) within their current positions. Seven CNLs from a Midwestern state participated in the study. One-on-one interviews using broad, open ended questions allowed the interviewee to pursue any avenue of thought that arose in connection with the interviewer’s question. Utilizing the hermeneutic phenomenological approach, data from each interview was assessed based on the lived experiences of the participant in the role as CNL. Data was isolated into themes by: reading of interview transcripts, highlighting of phrases, reading transcripts and listening to interview recordings, and detailed reading of transcripts to find essential meaning in the words. Six major themes emerged from the data: advanced generalist, educator, daily role outcomes, lack of buy-in from upper management (for the CNL role), lack of (CNL) positions, and impact on the future of healthcare. The themes identified in this study provide leaders with information about the lived experiences of the CNL. This information provides leaders with the knowledge to make changes in implementation of the CNL role and impact the future of healthcare. Recommendations include: incorporating understanding of the role of the CNL within health care organizations to improve patient and organizational financial outcomes, staff nurse retention and quality of care provided, following the CNL at the unit level, and empowerment of the CNL to establish the role of the CNL. Additionally CNLs needs to understand that upper management will require validation that the role is successful.
Dedication: 
I dedicate my dissertation work to my children Amberly and Kierstin. Many evenings and weekends have been given up so I could pursue this dream. Not once did I not realize the sacrifice you gave for me. May my success be a guide and inspiration for you in your quest to fulfill your dreams! I love both of you. I also dedicate this work to my husband Lee, without his sacrifice, support and encouragement I never would have completed this journey. Thank you for always believing in me. I also dedicate this dissertation to my parents. I have been a challenge and have walked my own path many times. I don’t always take the advice given, but find my own way. Each time both of you have supported my choices and encouraged me to be my own person. Thank you for your never ending love, support, and patience.
Acknowledgements: 
During the course of my doctoral journey I have had the pleasure to work with many individuals who have added to my success. Of special recognition are my two friends and fellow students Wilma and Julie. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. This journey would not have been possible without the following: Dr. Anne Brett, my chair, whose wise feedback helped me redefine and deepen my understanding of phenomenological research; Dr. Samson Omotosho for your words of support; Dr. Elisabeth Weinbaum for your attention to detail.