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Journal of Professional Nursing


This article examines the role characteristics, responsibilities, and anticipated career patterns of first-line nurse administrators employed in university-based nursing education programs throughout the nation. First-line administration is the first level on the administrative ladder, and these administrators are most frequently entitied department chairpersons; division, program, and level directors; or coordinators. This was an exploratory and descriptive research project, and the questions addressed were (1) How are first-line nurse administrators in academe formally educated and informally prepared for their administrative role? (2) What are the administrative competencies important for this administrative role? (3) What strains, conflicts, and work overload are associated with the first-line administrative role, and what strategies are used to cope? (4) What do these administrators anticipate as a career pattern in administration based on their experiences as first-line administrators? Fifty-six first-line nurse administrators were interviewed from 42 schools of nursing that offer both bachelor's degree and graduate nursing programs. Data indicated that one third of the study participants completed graduate level courses in administration, and the majority had worked with administrative mentors. They ranked having character and integrity as their most important competency, which was defined as being trusted by faculty, other administrators, and students. Settling priorities for their administrative work caused them their greatest strain, and work overload was most predominant. Role conflict was present consistently as they attempted to meet the traditional triad of faculty responsibilities (research and scholarship, teaching, service) plus administrative duties. Numerous time-management strategies were used to cope, but nonetheless, one half will not continue in an administration career pathway. Implications for academic nurse administrators are cited.









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Nursing Commons