Comparative Analysis of Nursing Faculty and Student Measures of Entitlement, Narcissism, and Perceptions of Support

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Peyton Marie O'Kain, BSN
School of Nursing, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN, USA

Purpose:  Internationally, attrition of nurses and nursing faculty is well-documented (Aiken, Sloane, Bruyneel, Van den Heede, Sermeus, & RN4CAST Consortium, 2013; Van den Heede, Florquin, Bruyneel, Aiken, Diya, Lesaffre, & Sermeus, 2013). Intergenerational antagonism between the millennial generation of nursing students who are entering practice and older generations of nurses and nursing faculty may lead to high professional attrition and therefore, poor patient outcomes due to the lack of dedicated, young nurses who feel supported by those who should be mentoring them for the future. Vast generational differences exist between the upcoming cohorts of nurses, i.e. “Millennials” entering practice and those who educate, supervise, and design these millennials’ education and career pathways. Older generations of nurses and nursing faculty often view students and younger nurses as entitled and unprofessional, yet the evidence supporting these assumptions and perceptions is virtually nonexistent.

The scope and purpose is to globally disseminate the results of this innovative nursing research that generated new knowledge of entitlement and narcissism plus organizational support as perceived by intergenerational nursing faculty and student participants. Investigating generational divides between faculty and students is imperative, as such divisions exist in nursing academia, research, and practice. This study demonstrated that students, particularly undergraduate, feel less supported than what faculty believe they provide in supportiveness. Millennial nursing students likely have vastly different expectations of support than previous generations (Goldman & Martin, 2016); anecdotally, such expectations are often perceived by nursing faculty as unbridled entitlement. This generational disconnect between nursing students and faculty can cause tension, miscommunication, and possibly obstruct learning and effective teaching. Exhaustive review of extant literature revealed little-to-no investigation of the relationships between perceived support and measures of entitlement and narcissism in nursing students.

Methods: After institutional review board (IRB) approval, 329 participants were recruited via email and social media; total participants were 110: 56 undergraduate students, 29 graduate students, and 25 faculty. Using psychometrically superb instruments such as the perceived organizational support scale (POSS) (Kottke & Sharafinski, 1988) and the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) (Ackerman, Donnellan, & Robins, 2012), participants responded anonymously after granting informed consent. The POSS has high internal consistency with a Cronbach's alpha of .97; the NPI has a high Cronbach's alpha of .84.

Results:  Multivariate analyses revealed significant differences and predictions of generational perceptions between nursing faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students. We also ran nonparametric analyses (Kruskal-Wallis) to confirm results among the three groups of median scores. Perceptions of support, plus measures of narcissism and entitlement, differed significantly between groups and categories (p < .05; .01; .005; .0005). Despite nursing practice experience and presumed maturity, perceived support, entitlement, and narcissism differed significantly between nursing student groups and nursing faculty. Generational assignment does not appear to influence entitlement as heavily as hypothesized. Faculty feel they are supportive beyond what students reported. There were also strong disparities between participant beliefs regarding what elements of student performance should be factored into grades. 

Conclusions:  Despite pervasive cultural stereotypes of millennials, all participants plus categorical designations scored differently than hypothesized on measures of entitlement and narcissism. These new results from this innovative research are supported by previous investigation indicating that millennial learners have different expectations of faculty than older or previous generations (Johanson, 2012). Faculty must begin to consistently examine their own generational characteristics and understand how that influences teaching and students (Roberts, Newman, & Schwartzstein, 2012). Students feel more supported by faculty when interpersonal initiatives bridge generational gaps (Roberts et. al, 2012), such as incorporated technology (Montenery, Walker, Sorensen, Thompson, Kirklin, White, & Ross, 2013). This research should be presented internationally to educate nurse scientists and educators to improve intergenerational relationships in nursing education and throughout the workforce.