Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Kathleen M. Boyle

Second Advisor

Renee Kumpula

Third Advisor

Jayne K. Sommers


This study explored the lived experience of associate degree nursing directors. Utilizing a qualitative, descriptive phenomenological approach, the study examined 14 practicing Minnesota associate degree nursing directors employed by the Minnesota State system. The purpose of this study was to understand what it will take to recruit and retain associate degree nursing directors.

Transformational leadership theory, Mead’s theory of symbolic interactionism, Goffman’s dramaturgical social theory, and Kegan’s adult identity theory formed the framework for the study. Six themes were identified in this research: role complexity, nursing identity, personal integrity, role ambiguity, organizational culture, and structure dynamics. In role complexity, it was how the nursing leaders perceived their role that increased or decreased their job satisfaction. In nursing identity, the directors empowered followers and nurtured them through change by using their nursing nature. Personal identity was challenging for leaders when transitioning from the practice setting into the leadership role. Role ambiguity was effected by leadership turnover causing instability, as well as, lack of mentoring for incoming directors. An organizational culture that was supportive and perceived transparency from administration, provided security for directors in their role. Structure dynamics that left director’s feeling marginalized was more likely to cause attrition for nursing leaders. The nursing leaders multiple role responsibilities and increasing budget challenges within the Minnesota State system, continued to generate concern from nursing directors. This study holds implications for understanding nursing leadership from participants currently immersed in this journey.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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