Workplace Satisfaction and Intent to Stay in Academic Leaders

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Jan Emory, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE1
Thomas Kippenbrock, EdD, MSN, RN2
Peggy Lee, EdD, MS, RN3
Michael Miller, PhD4
Christopher Rosen, PhD3
(1)Eleanor Mann School of Nursing, University of Arkansas - Fayetteville, Fayetteville, AR, USA
(2)Nursing, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
(3)University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA
(4)Dean College of Education and Health Professions, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA

An academic administrator position is one of the most important in higher education. Individuals in this role not only sacrifice their own academic advancement and research agenda (McDowell, Singell, & Stater, 2011), but they are responsible for the vast majority of all academic decisions that are made in higher education (Czech & Forward, 2010). Yet despite the importance of the work of this position, they typically receive little training or mentoring (Glasgow, Weinstock, Lachman, Suplee & Dreher, 2009) and have been placed in heightened stressful situations that are driven by budget cuts, greater accountability, and calls for more efficiency (Majeski, 2005).

In nursing education the academic administrator is even more critical, as issues facing program delivery are confounded by shortages of nursing faculty, strict and changing regulations for program accreditation, and the sheer demand for more nurses (Mitz-Binder, 2014). Academic nursing administrator vacancies are on the rise and are expected to continue (Glasgow, Weinstock, Lachman, Suplee & Dreher, 2009; Adams, 2007). On average these positions remain unfilled for two to five months with interim academic administrators filling the void for extended periods of time (Mintz-Binder & Fitzpatrick, 2009). Many academic nursing administrators rise from the faculty ranks and few of these newly promoted academic administrators receive training or mentorship. Training and mentorship is important because the required skill set is significantly different from those of traditional nursing faculty (Glasgow et al., 2009; Adams, 2007).

The purpose of this study was to explore the workplace satisfaction and intent to stay of academic nursing administrators considering a variety of demographic and work related variables. To further guide the inquiry, the research questions were (a) Are there differences in demographic factors (gender, race, age) with academic nursing administrators’ job satisfaction or intent to stay? (b) Are there differences in tenure status with academic nursing administrators’ job satisfaction or intent to stay? (c) Are there differences in academic ranks for academic nursing administrators’ job satisfaction or intent to stay? (d) Are there differences in institutional type for nursing administrators’ job satisfaction or intent to stay? (e) Is there a significant relationship between academic nursing administrators’ job satisfaction and intent to stay with personal and family policies, collaboration, tenure clarity, institutional leadership, shared governance, career development and department engagement?


A secondary data source from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) was used for the purpose of the study. The data were collected by a consortium of over 200 colleges, universities, and systems across North America committed to making the academic workplace more attractive and equitable for faculty. For decades, the consortium administered the job satisfaction survey collecting and storing the data. The data were collected from responses to an online survey over a span of three years. The survey consisted of Likert-type scales and open-ended questions.


The Future of Nursing Report(2011) recognizes the need for qualified leaders in practice and academic settings. To achieve the long term goals outlined in the report, leadership in nursing education must also critically examine current practices and trends. Academic nursing administrators are critical to leading the quest for excellence (Halstead, 2012).

Academic nursing administrators serve in an indirect role in caring for patients and communities by producing nursing graduates functioning at the bedside and beyond (Christensen, 2004). Christensen (2004) recognized that academic nursing administrators staying long enough to earn trust can develop a shared vision to move programs of nursing forward. The workplace factors found to be significant combined with responsibilities and added pressures in the role have resulted in many unfilled academic leadership positions (Mintz-Binder, 2014). Retaining qualified and effective academic nursing administrators can provide consistency and stability within programs of nursing.

This study provides a national snapshot of the factors influencing the academic nursing administrator’s job satisfaction and intent to stay. This vital position warrants careful consideration by institutions of higher education to seek and retain the leaders of the next generation of nursing faculty and graduates from academic programs. While job satisfaction and intent to stay are multifaceted, many workplace variables with a relationship are modifiable. The findings should encourage those in higher administrative roles to carefully evaluate these factors in their institutions to recognize a need for change in policies to promote job satisfaction with intent to stay for academic nursing administrators.