Cultural Characteristics of a Nursing Education Center of Excellence: A Naturalistic Inquiry Case Study
Leiker, Tona L.
University of Kansas
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Nursing education is at a crossroad today. Stressors in nursing programs include expanding enrollments to meet growing workforce demands for more registered nurses, demanding workloads with low average nursing faculty salaries compared to practice peers, and growing numbers of faculty retirements. The purpose of this study was to identify the cultural characteristics of a nursing education center of excellence. The primary research question was: What important factors constitute the culture of a nursing program previously determined to be a high-performing environment? Using naturalistic inquiry methods, one nursing program case study designated as National League for Nursing (NLN) Centers of Excellence in Nursing EducationTM was examined through an extended immersion experience. Following voluntary informed consent, data collection occurred over several months through prolonged immersion including six study visits, multiple observations, formal/informal interviews, and artifact/document collection and review. Data collection began with entry into the field and continued throughout the research experience. Data analysis began with the first immersion experience and continued throughout the iterative reflexive process of naturalistic inquiry case study. This process provided understanding of the factors that constitute the cultural characteristics of a nursing education center of excellence. The most significant finding of the study was the importance of creating intentional caring relationships with key stakeholders while maintaining focus upon the mission and values of the profession, student-centered nursing program, and institution. A graphic representation emerged from the three themes and 12 patterns. This study's results and representation, "The Right Fit: Harmonious Alignment", will inform deans, policy-makers, and key stakeholders about the factors that constitute the culture of a high-performing academic nursing program designated as an NLN Center of ExcellenceTM in nursing education.
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