2008 to 2011


Relationship to Previous Research: This study built on the results of our previous CIHR funded national study (2004-2007) that investigated the profile of nursing leadership in Canada after the period of restructuring in the 1990s. A key finding of that study revealed that the average age of nurse managers across the country was 52 years of age, raising serious concerns about a nursing leadership shortage in the next 5-10 years. Based on the projected shortage of 113, 000 nurses by 2016 (CNA, 2009), these data suggest that the profession could be short 6,780 nurse managers within the next decade. Surprisingly, there is a dearth of research on factors that influence nurses aspirations to management. In order to implement opportunities for nurse leadership development, research was needed to identify personal and work-related factors that influence direct care nurses aspirations to management.

Research Questions: The research questions were: 1) What are the personal and situational factors that influence direct care nurses interests in assuming nursing management roles within their careers? 2) What proportion of staff nurses express interest in managerial roles? 3) What reasons do they give for their interest or lack of interest in assuming these roles? 4) What learning needs do nurses identify as relevant to preparing themselves for leadership roles? 5) What is the relationship between personal and situational factors and nurses aspirations to nursing leadership roles? 6) Do provincial/regional characteristics influence nurses career aspirations?

Method: The study consisted of two phases and used both qualitative and quantitative methods. In Phase I, we conducted focus groups in four regions across Canada (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic) to investigate direct care nurses interests in formal nursing management roles within their careers, and to identify what factors are involved in increasing the likelihood of their career aspirations to pursue management. In Phase II, a national survey was conducted using a random sample of registered staff nurses working in direct patient care from each province (with the exception of PEI who no longer releases member information for research purposes). The survey questionnaire contained standardized instruments that measured the variables of interest.


Participants: We conducted 18 focus groups and 13 interviews involving 126 participants in four regions across Canada (West, Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic).


Participants: Of the 3,600 (400 for each of the nine provinces) surveys mailed we received 1,269 (35% response rate) that were usable. The staff nurses surveyed were predominately female with an average of 41 and 17 years of experience. They anticipated retiring at age 58. Fifty-one percent of the staff nurses had obtained baccalaureate degree or higher in nursing education. The feasibility of pursuing further education was highly variable and significant negatively related to age. Eighty-seven percent of the staff nurses were employed in a hospital setting, 50% of which worked on medical surgical-units. Sixty percent of staff nurses worked full-time, between 20 to 39 hours per week. Ninety-four percent of the staff nurses immediate supervisor was a nurse.


Key findings will be presented at the knowledge translation workshop