Aim The study aimed at ascertaining the objectives, development strategies and problems of ward sisters in developing nursing.
Background More knowledge is needed of first-line management in order to be able to develop organizations and ward sisters' professional training.
Methods Data collection was by a questionnaire completed by 37 ward sisters in two Finnish hospitals. Thirty-six ward sisters responded to the open-ended questions and their answers were analysed using content analysis.
Findings As for their objectives, ward sisters emphasized a functioning working community and good care. Good care was based on a variety of theoretical ideas, on the quality and economy of care. The means by which these objectives could be achieved were process thinking, reflection on action, leadership and the development of the working community. The leadership strategies mentioned were profit management and participatory leadership. In developing the working community, ward sisters relied on collaboration, good climate and training. Ward sisters' problems with developing nursing care were related to resources, work organization and the working community.
Conclusions Besides expertise in nursing, ward sisters are required to have skills in leading and developing the working community, collaboration and especially the ward's climate.