Leadership experience of nurse academics in gerontological nursing education in Australia

Author: Maria Monica Doroteo - Espinosa

Doroteo - Espinosa, Maria Monica, 2021 Leadership experience of nurse academics in gerontological nursing education in Australia, Flinders University, College of Nursing and Health Sciences

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Background: Universities in Australia are facing enormous challenges to produce a high-quality nursing workforce to meet the care needs of older people in the context of a rapidly aging population. Problems reported in the literature include ageism and low work preferences towards older people and the lack of gerontological knowledge and skills in nursing students. The leadership of nurse academics is crucial to address those problems via curriculum development and clinical placement development in gerontological nursing. Aim and Objectives: The aim of the study was to understand the leadership experiences of nurse academics in gerontological nursing education in Australia. The specific objectives were: 1) To identify the motivators in leading gerontological nursing education in undergraduate nursing programs, and 2) To identify the challenges in leading gerontological nursing education in undergraduate nursing programs.

Methods: The study was underpinned by a constructivist paradigm, using the methodology of interpretive description. In-depth interviews were performed to collect data. Ten nurse academics were interviewed, and thematic analysis was used to analyse the data.

Results: Four themes were identified in the study. First, nurse academics demonstrated leadership in promoting gerontological nursing in curricula by implementing innovative teaching strategies to engage students to develop knowledge, skills, and attitudes, initiating a regular review of the nursing curriculum, and using tutorial guides to enhance the students’ learning. Second, nurse academics exhibited leadership in supporting nursing students in clinical placements by enhancing the learning environment, fostering opportunities for interprofessional collaboration, and serving as a coach and mentor for students. Third, nurse academics promoted positive role modeling for nursing students, by serving as an advocate, teaching, and encouraging students to show empathy, and by conveying a negative view towards student nurses’ ageism. In addition, nurse academics has demonstrated leadership in translating research to gerontological education and practice through advancing gerontological nursing through research, publishing information, and resources related to the care of older people and demonstrating a strong research background.

Discussion: The findings support that nurse academics showed characteristics of Transformational leadership in these domains: idealised influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualised consideration in both university learning settings and clinical placements. Idealised influence on nursing students enables nurse academics to influence them in learning healthy aging. Inspirational motivation inspires nursing students to learn theories, models, and practices that meet the care needs and high-quality care standards for older people. Intellectual stimulation enables nurse academics to engage nursing students in learning and seeking feedback from them in order to improve teaching performance. Finally, individual considerations enable nurse academics to provide coaching support for nursing students that enhance their learning in clinical placement.

Conclusion: In this study, nurse academics demonstrated leadership that enhanced nursing students’ educational experience in the care of older people in both theoretical and clinical learning. They also exhibited strategies that nurtured nurse students so that they could display adequate knowledge, skills, and attitude (KSA) in the care of older people.

Keywords: Keywords nursing leadership, nurse academics, Gerontological nursing, ageism, older people

Subject: Nursing thesis

Thesis type: Masters
Completed: 2021
School: College of Nursing and Health Sciences
Supervisor: Lily Dongxia Xiao