The objectives of this study were to explore and describe the best experiences of self-leadership in male learner nurses during their four-year training programme at a nursing college in the Western Cape Province of the Republic of South Africa.
A qualitative research design incorporating the philosophy of the Appreciative Inquiry paradigm was used. The research design was exploratory, descriptive and contextual to match the research questions.
The research questions were framed from an AI perspective:
‘What are the best experiences of male learner nurses on their self-leadership during their four-year programme?’
‘How can male learner nurses lead themselves during their four-year programme?’
The target population consisted of all the male student nurses from 1st to 4th year (n=151) following the R425 undergraduate diploma programme at a nursing college in the Western Cape. Data was collected by means of individual, semi-structured interviews with 12 male learner nurses until saturation occurred. The interviews were audio-taped and transcribed verbatim. Data analysis consisted of thematic analysis using Tesch’s eight-step method to generate themes, categories and sub-categories. The findings consisted of five themes:
Theme 1 – The peak experiences of the male student nurses relating to self-leadership occurred on multiple levels – academic, interpersonal, personally associated and practice-linked.
Theme 2 – Self-leadership was a process (at times difficult) of growth, adaptation and developing attitudes that culminated in building character.
Theme 3 – Future aspirations included professional and educational aspects and interpersonal leadership.
Theme 4 – This revealed the qualities needed for attainment of future aspirations.
Theme 5 – The value of the programme was enhanced through educational, fellow student and practice support.
The conclusion of this study was that male learner nurses have the capacity to lead themselves as they displayed those characteristics identified for their self-leadership. Characteristics such as maturity, responsibility, advocacy, strong resolve, hard work, endurance and a willingness to sacrifice were identified by the participants. They employed the use of self-talk and they were able to make firm decisions, but they required guidance and active support from significant others such as family, friends, nurse supervisors, nurse educators and faculty.
The value of their training programme was enhanced by educational support from lecturers and mentors, fellow students and practice support in the wards and simulation laboratory. Guidelines for self-leadership for male learner nurses were described from the findings of this study.
Ethical considerations included obtaining informed consent from the participants, while ensuring confidentiality and anonymity. Ethical clearance to conduct this study was obtained from the Ethics Committee at the University of the Western Cape, Western Cape College of Nursing (WCCN) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Trustworthiness was ensured throughout the research process through credibility, transferability, confirmability and dependability.
KEYWORDS: Best experiences; Males; Learner nurses; Self-leadership; College; Guidelines; Qualitative; Interviews; Nursing
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