The experience of being a shift-leader in a hospital ward
Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
© 2008 The Authors. Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume 63, Issue 1, pages 45–53, July 2008
How to Cite
Goldblatt, H., Granot, M., Admi, H. and Drach-Zahavy, A. (2008), The experience of being a shift-leader in a hospital ward. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 63: 45–53. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2008.04650.x
- Issue online: 28 JUN 2008
- Version of Record online: 28 JUN 2008
- Accepted for publication 15 February 2008
- focus groups;
- hospital wards;
Title. The experience of being a shift-leader in a hospital ward.
Aim. This paper is a report of a study to explore the experience of being a shift-leader, and how these nurses view the management of their shift.
Background. Professional demands on skilled and capable shift-leaders, who competently handle multi-disciplinary staff and patients, as well as operations and information, call for the development of efficient nursing leadership roles. Nevertheless, knowledge of shift-leaders’ perspectives concerning their task management and leadership styles is relatively limited.
Method. Twenty-eight Registered Nurses working in an Israeli medical centre participated in this qualitative study. Data were gathered through in-depth interviews conducted in two phases between February and October 2005: three focus group interviews (phase 1) followed by seven individual interviews (phase 2).
Findings. Content analysis revealed two major themes which constitute the essence of being a shift-leader: (1) a burden of responsibility, where the shift-leader moves between positions of maximum control and delegating some responsibility to other nurses; (2) the role’s temporal dimension, expressed as a strong desire to reach the end of the shift safely, and taking managerial perspectives beyond the boundaries of the specific shift. The core of the shift-leader’s position is an immense sense of responsibility. However, this managerial role is transient and therefore lacks an established authority.
Conclusion. A two-dimensional taxonomy of these themes reveals four types of potential and actual coping among shift-leaders, indicating the need to train them in leadership skills and systemic thinking. Interventions to limit the potential stress hazards should be focused simultaneously on shift-leaders themselves and on job restructuring.