Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Committee Member

Lori Candela

Second Committee Member

Carolyn Yucha

Third Committee Member

Tish Smyer

Fourth Committee Member

LeAnn Putney

Number of Pages



Deans of nursing hold a unique position for the future of the profession. Few others have the potential to bring about change within the academic setting, or hold such a strong influence on the future of nursing and on our students. Current statistics reveal multiple vacancies in nursing dean positions. Further understanding of how nursing deans begin their role, attain their identity as dean, and successfully execute this important position is needed to recruit and retain strong leaders who have the methods and skills to develop and support the advancement of the nursing profession. Understanding the process of becoming nursing dean can advance knowledge development in the profession as it applies to retention and recruitment of nurse administrators.

The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the essence of the lived experience for those who have recently advanced to academic dean of nursing. Theories of identity, human becoming and role transition were referenced as conceptual underpinnings for the study. The interpretive phenomenological approach of van Manen guided the inquiry and data analysis. The overarching research question was: What is the lived experience of a novice nursing dean?

Purposive and snowball sampling was used to select participants based on their years as dean. The sample included deans that are Registered Nurses, have the title of Dean, have not been in a dean role previously, and have been appointed in their first dean position three years or less. Seven nursing deans participated in the study, and the technique used to gather data was the recording of face-to-face interviews conducted in a semi-structured format. The interviews were transcribed and manual coding was performed on the data to create categories or themes that reflected the data.

The results yielded four major themes and 16 subthemes. The overarching themes of sacrifice, lack of preparation for the role, the uniqueness of the nursing dean role, and highly political environments inform what a nursing dean experiences within the first three years of their role.

The information gathered in this study provides more understanding of the complex role of novice nursing deans. It also provides new insight that will be useful as we look to recruit and retain these important leaders.


Administration; Deans (Education); Education; Novice; Nursing; Nursing schools – Administration


Educational Leadership | Nursing

File Format


Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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