The novice nursing dean: A qualitative study of the lived experience

Melissa R. Bouws, Lori Candela, Jacob Bonnema



Objective: The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the essence of the lived experience for those who have recently become first time academic deans of nursing. These deans hold unique leadership positions in academia that influence program direction.  Few others have such influence within academia, or the profession. Understanding the lived experience of being a novice nursing dean can advance knowledge development on what itis like to be a first time dean as well as provide insight on how to support them in this critical role. 

Methods: The research design for this study was interpretive phenomenology.  The overarching research question was:  What is the lived experience of a novice nursing dean?  Seven nursing deans participated in the study, and the technique used to gather data was the recording of face-to-face interviews conducted in a semi-structured format.  The interviews were transcribed and manual coding was performed to create themes.

Results: The results yielded four major themes and 11 subthemes.  The overarching themes of servant leadership, lack of preparation for the role, the uniqueness of the nursing dean role, and highly political environments inform what a nursing dean experiences within the first three years of their role.

Conclusions:  The results of the study revealed an understanding of the complex role of novice nursing deans.  The information gathered described how the novice nursing dean is willing to navigate through the challenges of their positions despite a lack of mentorship, the unique demands of nursing education, and the highly political work environments they regularly encounter.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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