Am I There Yet? My Journey to Becoming a Nurse Faculty Leader

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Elaine C. Hardy, PhD, RN
Health Systems Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago in Peoria, Peoria, IL, USA
Barbara Manz Friesth, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Indiana University, Indianapolis,, IN, USA
Norma Martinez Rogers, PhD, RN
Family Community Health Systems, UTHSCSA, San Antonio, TX, USA


Early in my career as nursing faculty I thought that I knew what I wanted. I aspired to be a nurse faculty leader. However, I quickly realized that I had no idea what it took to become a leader. This is why the Sigma Theta Tau International Nurse Faculty Leadership Academy (NFLA) was so intriguing to me. When the opportunity to apply to this program arose, I inquired immediately to my institution for support in this endeavor. The NFLA, sponsored by the Elsevier foundation, recruits early career nurse faculty for the purpose of developing them as leaders in nursing education. The 18-month program is based upon Kouzes and Posners’ (K&P) five practices of exemplary leadership: model the way, inspire a shared vision, challenge the process, enable others to act, and encourage the heart. A leadership mentor and faculty advisor supports the scholar.  The scholar’s personal leadership growth is fostered through developing individual leadership, leading a team project, and expanding the scholar’s scope of influence in their institution, community, and profession.


The purpose for my involvement in the NFLA is to improve leadership skills as a nurse educator and ultimately to impact minority student outcomes in nursing education.


In order to develop as a leader, the scholar used a variety of measures of growth and self-development. One such measure, the K&P Leadership Profile Inventory (LPI), was used to construct an Individual Leadership Development Plan (ILDP). Self-reflection, input from the mentor, and faculty advisor, helped the scholar to identify behaviors, action strategies and desired outcomes conducive to becoming a leader. To monitor the scholar’s progress, the scholar identified two faculty members to observe displayed behaviors in a variety of settings and to give feedback.

The team-project was to increase perception of growth and leadership development in diverse undergraduate nursing students. While leading the project team, the scholar further practiced personal leadership behaviors. The students’ perception of their leadership was measured with a pre-and post programming Student-Leadership Profile Inventory (S-LPI). For comparison of the students’ perception and that of others, the students selected two observers to complete the Observer S-LPI. Data from pre-and post-programming S-LPI and the Observer S-LPI were analyzed using Wilcoxan test.

To further develop the scholar’s leadership growth, the mentor and faculty advisor together with the scholar identified leadership possibilities within the scholar’s institution, community, and profession. Opportunities suggested to the scholar were to join the curriculum committee, resolve disagreements with faculty using dialogue, disseminate NFLA experience at conferences, and work with the team on disseminating project and leadership experience in manuscript form. Professionally, the scholar was encouraged to continue with the local chapter of the National Black Nurses Association and to run for a board of director’s position of the National Black Nurses Association.


The scholar’s identified goals and associated behaviors identified through the ILDP were in the areas of effective communication, delegation, encouraging others, and enabling others to act. The faculty observers reported a positive change in the scholar’s behaviors. However, some improvements were still needed in effective communication.

Results from the team-led project with 10 students: 5 male, 5 female, 30% ethnic/racial minority, ranging in ages from 19-41, were statistically significant in all 5 practices of exemplary leadership for pre-and post-programming. While the comparison between students and observers’ measures were not statistically significant, the observers perceived students ratings higher than students perceived themselves.

By practicing the associated behaviors identified through the ILDP the scholar’s scope of influence in the institution increased. Exemplars of this influence are: joined the curriculum committee, worked on several subcommittees, served as consultant to a university interdisciplinary grant to develop an educational pipeline for minority students, and mentored faculty and students in writing and submitting abstracts. The scholar has had several peer-reviewed abstracts submitted and accepted for national conferences and a podium presentation at the 2nd Annual Cultural Inclusion Institute.


This journey as an NFLA scholar has taught me that by being self-reflective and taking advantage of opportunities that the NFLA has provided, I can develop into the nurse faculty leader that I aspire to become.