Longing to Lead: The Rise of the Nursing Academic Leader

Tuesday, 23 July 2013: 11:25 AM

Lesley M. Wilkes, PhD, MHPEd, GradDipED, CM, RN
Clinical Nursing Research Unit, Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District/University of Western Sydney, Penrith, Australia
John Daly, RN, BA (Ed), BHSc (Nursing), MEd (Hons), PhD
Faculty of Nursing, University of of Technology, Lindfield NSW, Australia
Wendy Cross, PhD, MEd, BAppsSc (AdvNsg), RN, RPN, FRCNA, FACMHN
School of Nursing & Midwifery, Monash University, Monash University, Australia
Debra Jackson, RN, PhD
Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Health, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to describe the different career and educational pathways to a nursing deanship.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand the importance of management experience to be a successful nursing dean.

Purpose: This paper is part of a larger study examining aspects of leadership required for deans of nursing in the 21st century. It aims to describe various career trajectories and pathways to nursing deanship in order for recommendations for succession planning to be developed.

Methods: As part of the larger qualitative study, oral histories were collected from 2011-2012 using conversations to capture the careers and educational pathways of 30 deans of nursing from Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. The conversations were transcribed and the individual dean career and educational pathway mapped and tabulated. From this, distinct career pathways were described. Exemplars are used in the results to emphasise career decisions and interruptions.

 Results: Distinct pathways discerned in the data analysis are elaborated and described: 1. The clinical specialty to teaching and thence the promotion and academic leadership route in the same institution, 2. The clinical specialty to clinical management to dean route, 3. The clinical speciality to teaching and academic leadership route and pursuit of deanship at a different institution, 4. The part-time clinical career, full time study, and 5. Serendipitous, political appointment deanship after clinical and teaching posts, not necessarily in nursing. The deans’ steps in education were pursued in various ways with most studying for higher degrees during their teaching and academic leadership posts.

Conclusion: This history of the career and educational pathways of these 30 deans allows us to learn from the past to inform the future of aspiring deans. Aspiring deans need to acquaint themselves with the need to pursue a doctoral qualification, gain management experience and possible leadership qualifications. Most importantly these aspirants need to determine the particular institutional culture into which they want to jump.