A Global Exploration of Leadership Competencies for Academic Nurse Educators

Sunday, 30 July 2017: 9:10 AM

Anne Marie Krouse, PhD, MBA
Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA
Barbara J. Patterson, PhD, RN, ANEF
School of Nursing, Widener University Graduate, Chester, PA, USA


Leadership is an essential element of the role of the nurse educator. It is a key factor in creating and sustaining academic institutional quality in that “leadership training and succession planning may contribute to organizational success” (Minnick, Norman, Donaghey, Fisher, & McKirgan, 2010, p. 504). Many nurse faculty leaders are thrust into their positions with insufficient leadership education or experience (Young, Pearsall, Stiles, Nelson, & Horton-Deutsch, 2011). This is of great concern as academic leadership has been shown to affect faculty satisfaction and retention and affect the health of the overall work environment (Brady, 2010). Leadership succession in academic programs is particularly concerning.

Organizational success is dependent upon the competency of its leaders. In nursing education, the NLN has identified eight core nurse educator competencies (Halstead, 2007). One of these competencies specifically focuses on the nurse educator as a leader, that being to “…function as change agents and leaders… to create a preferred future for nursing education, the nursing profession, and health care delivery systems” (Halstead, 2007, p. 116). Nurse faculty are charged to “assume a leadership role in various levels of institutional governance” and “advocate for nursing and nursing education in the political arena” as part of the competency, functioning within the educational environment (Halstead, 2007, p. 156).

This study builds upon three previous studies examining the leadership competencies of nurse educators. Patterson and Krouse (2015) completed a qualitative study of 15 leaders in nursing education from which six leadership competencies emerged. Those competencies were validated through a Delphi study distributed to leaders in nursing education across the country. The results of the Delphi study were used for development of Leadership in Nurse Educators (LNE)© instrument. The 3rd study established the psychometrics of the instrument with a sample of 340 academic nurse educators in the United States. This study extends the sample internationally to provide greater depth and understanding to leadership competencies for the academic nurse educator adding the global perspective.

The advancement the science of nursing education and transforming practice requires nurse educators who are prepared to be leaders. While nurse faculty competencies have been clearly articulated by the NLN, there is a gap in the evidence-based literature in regards to the leadership competencies necessary for the academic nurse educators from a global perspective. The development of nurse faculty who have the leadership skills that are essential to take on the challenging roles of higher education is critical. The purpose of this research was to describe leadership competencies of nurse educators from an international sample.


A descriptive quantitative design was employed to answer the research question. From a list of nursing schools outside of the United States, the investigators accessed the publically available web pages identifying the nursing school/department faculty and potential participants’ email contact information. Using SurveyMonkey®, each identified educator was contacted via email informing him or her about the study and requesting study participation. A total of 2138 emails were distributed with a 11% response rate. Demographic data were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Psychometric evaluation of the instrument was completed to determine reliability and validity of the instrument for international academic nurse educators.


Since the state of the science in nursing education research is in its infancy, this study contributes to the evidence for leadership competencies of academic nurse educators globally. The sample consisted of 250 academic nurse educators with a mean age of 52 years and 22 years of teaching experience. Eighty-three percent were women and 67% had a doctoral degree in nursing (92% PhD, 4% EdD, 2% DNP, 1% DNS/DNSc). The findings of this study were consistent with previous findings from a U.S. sample of academic nurse educators. The LNE© was determined to be valid and reliable for use with an international population of academic nurse educators.


Academic nurse educators are challenged to become leaders, using innovation and creativity to create a more efficient and effective learning environment for students. As members of the academic community, they must become leaders in university governance to proactively address increasing regulation in higher education and threats to academic freedom. Developing those leadership competencies necessary to work within the higher education environment is crucial as the challenges faced in healthcare and education become more complex.

In a global nursing community, this study contributes data from an international sample using a reliable and valid instrument for the science of nursing education that can be used to assess leadership competencies in academic nurse educators. The instrument may be used in in conjunction with leadership development programs for academic nurse educators to identify areas for development or to assess program outcomes. It may also be used to evaluate relationships between leadership competencies and organizational outcomes in higher education. Faculty development is the critical element (Cleeter, 2011).