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Cultivating Nursing Leadership for Our Envisioned Future


In this “Editor’s Pick” featured article, author Lee Galuska, MSN, RN, summarizes the result of a metasynthesis of qualitative studies on nursing leadership development.  Her analysis offers significant evidence that can shape leadership development programs and curricula.  Galuska described the development of this research:

This article emerged out of my passion for promoting excellence in nursing leadership.  As I started my doctoral work, the driving questions centered on effective nursing leadership in healthcare organizations.   In exploring leadership models and theories, I became interested in complexity science and leadership in complex adaptive systems. I became intrigued with the work of Tim Porter O’Grady and Kathy Malloch on quantum leadership.  Their discussion of leadership in complex health care systems helped to shape my studies.  For nurse leaders, an understanding of complexity science and the behavior of complex systems is essential for creating the conditions for leadership to emerge in nurses throughout the system.

As I was learning more about leadership and complexity, the Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health report was released.  The report reflected a recognition that our healthcare system is a complex adaptive system and that in order to achieve the outcomes of a transformed system and a healthier nation, nursing leadership development was critical.  That triggered my pursuit of understanding how best to cultivate nursing leadership

Lee Galuska

Lee Galuska

competency in nurses at all levels.   I wanted to study it from the perspective of nurses themselves.  I wanted to find out what nurses had found to be effective in helping them to develop leadership competency.

I had the good fortune at that time to be studying qualitative research methods with Cheryl Beck at the University of Connecticut.  Under Cheryl’s guidance I began to conduct a metasynthesis of qualitative studies of nurses’ experience with leadership development.  That work ultimately evolved into three metasyntheses.  This article focuses on the role of the context or environmental considerations on the development of nursing leadership competencies.  Another focuses on the role of purposeful, guided experiential learning and the third on formal leadership learning strategies.  My hope is to propose a model or “bundle” for effective nursing leadership development at all levels.

This is an important article that can inform efforts to bring the recommendations of the “Future of Nursing” report to reality.  Visit the ANS web site and download your free copy of this article today!

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Jeremy #

    An interesting perspective. I am also mid-doctoral program and, like Lee, am intrigued by the IOM’s statement on enhancing the leadership role of all nurses. I am working on my research proposal and plan on a descriptive study of nurses perceptions of their leadership competency and their perceptions on their future leadership competency requirements. The main issue for me since the study involves all nurses is the lack of available research into junior RN leadership development (and the apparent lack of development) especially as they will be instrumental in leading nursing in the future.

    December 20, 2012

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