Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Defining Nurse Leadership: Nurses’ Perceptions of Nurse Leadership and the Conditions that Influence its Development

In this era of technologic and scientific advancement, the aging population, and the shift from illness and treatment to wellness and prevention, the multitude of calls for nurses to lead is shining the spotlight on the significant work of all nurses. However, the phrase “nurse leadership” is defined and used in a variety of ways in the literature. Conceptual clarity about nurse leadership and nurse leadership development in the context of nursing and health care is needed to provide an empirical direction for future research and theory development. Transparency is needed in this area so nurse leadership is utilized as a legitimate vehicle for advancing health care and the nursing profession. This study contributes to both academic and practice environments current understanding of nurse leadership. Using nurses’ viewpoints this qualitative study sought to explore the concept of nurse leadership in today’s health care environment and the conditions that influence leadership development. A literature review on nurse leadership was conducted. Qualitative methodology was employed to study fifteen registered nurses’ perceptions of nurse leadership. Data analysis yielded seven themes: confidence; leading by example; risk taking; “you have potential”; resource person; “prove myself”; and sticking out. Nurse leadership can be broadly defined as the process by which nurses, individually or collectively, intentionally influence their patients, colleagues, and settings both internal and external to health care to improve the practice of nursing with the aim of safe patient care.