Balancing professional and personal satisfaction of nurse managers: current and future perspectives in a changing health care system*


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    Research funded by the University of Lethbridge Research Fund and Research Enhancement Envelope.

Karran Thorpe
Associate Professor
School of Health Sciences
University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive
Lethbridge, AB
Canada T1K 3M4


Objective  The objectives of this research were to explore and describe emerging new roles of First-Line Nurse Managers (F-LNMs i.e. individuals who oversee the daily operations of nursing units, regardless of their titles) in one Canadian province, identify their requisite knowledge, skills, competencies, and determine the training and development needs of these managers.

Background  F-LNMs, recognized as key players in health care systems, face major challenges (e.g. continuing organizational change, lack of resources) daily. These challenges affect their ability to achieve quality work experiences for their staff members and quality of nursing care for their patients and for themselves.

Methods  The research design entails a triangulation of investigators (nursing and management), methods (interviews and a Delphi Study), samples (interviews with 26 F-LNMs and a Delphi Study with 62 panelists), and data (qualitative and quantitative). Institutions were randomly selected and then F-LNMs were randomly selected to participate in personal interviews and the remaining F-LNMs, along with nominated senior administrators, were invited to participate in the Delphi Study.

Results  Key findings relate to role changes (e.g. job enlargement and emphasis on efficiency), challenges (e.g. staffing and retention, frustrations), and recommendations for administrators (e.g. provide resources, training and development) and educators (e.g. link education to organizational needs). Ultimately, organizational changes and challenges affect how F-LNMs perceive their future professional (e.g. providing quality of patient care) and personal (e.g. high quality of life) satisfaction levels.

Conclusions:  This research suggests that the role of F-LNMs continues to evolve, consistent with the changing health care system. F-LNMs face challenges that compromise performance of their functions as they believe their work should be completed. To enhance satisfaction in their roles, F-LNMs express a desire for balance in their professional and personal lives.