When caretaking competes with care giving: a qualitative study of full-time working mothers who are nurse managers


  • Presented at the 11th Annual Conference of the Society for Phenomenology and the Hunan Sciences, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

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    As used in this study, the phrase ‘nursing administrator’ refers to an American professional nurse, working in managerial milieu. These individuals possess the Registered Nurse (RN) credential to practice professional nursing in the state where they reside. As such, they typically have spent time working as ‘floor nurses’, providing direct care to patients. Subsequently, they have been promoted into supervisory positions within hospital settings, exercising clinical and administrative oversight for the nurses who work on their respective floor unit. In the UK, the functional equivalent of the individuals in the present study might be referenced by designators such as Director of Nursing, Ward Managers, Charge Nurses, or Unit Matrons.

Michael W Firmin
Department of Psychology
Cedarville University
251 N Main Street
Cedarville, OH 45314
E-mail: firmin@cedarville.edu


Aim  The purpose of this study was to explore the motivations and stresses associated with full-time working mothers who practice as nurse managers.

Background  Full-time work outside the home for mothers has been recognized as a circumstance which may present certain benefits and risks to family life. Nursing management is recognized as a high-stress occupation, which may be filled by mothers who work full time. Little is known about the specific needs and stresses of full-time nurse managers who are caring for children at home.

Methods  In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 mothers who worked as nurse managers.

Results  Participants expressed challenges in several areas including balancing/separating work and home, self-imposed advancement inhibitions, and constant giving. Challenges were offset by assets, which included complimentary roles, health insurance, added income, and professional and personal fulfilment.

Conclusion  Participants ‘wanted it all’, including the conveniences of part-time employment and the benefits of full-time employment.

Implications for nursing management  Full-time nurse mangers with children at home experience unique tensions which characterize their work and home environments. Employers may assist nurses by adopting flexible scheduling, educational and child-care support and assistance in negotiating work and home roles.