Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Larry D. Burton

Second Advisor

Frances Johnson

Third Advisor

Anneris Coria-Navia



Leadership is an essential component of professional nursing practice used in many aspects of the Registered Nurse (RN) role. Baccalaureate nursing (BN) programs have the responsibility of preparing graduating nursing students with leadership orientation and practice. Excellent professional preparation of RNs starts with their education during nursing school. The fast-paced and high-demand healthcare environment needs RNs who can be accountable for patient care that enables excellent patient outcomes and sound patient-centered care. Taking this into consideration, nursing educators are in a special position to promote nursing education which prepares their students with leadership education and training. The purpose of this study was to describe BN students’ lived experiences of a leadership role during clinical practicum.


For this study, the phenomenological approach was used to be able to understand the phenomenon of a leadership role during the Team Leaders’ (TL) lived experiences during their clinical practicum of a Medical-Surgical course. Data came from journals written by 32 participants from two cohorts, and interview transcriptions from eight participants selected from the 32 journal writers. The data were organized and analyzed with the NVivo 12 Plus software program, based on close readings and analysis of the journals and interview transcripts. First and second coding cycles were used. During the first cycle of coding, I used two types of codes: Elemental method in vivo coding and the affective method of emotion coding. During the second coding cycle I used the pattern coding method.


Key findings revealed several themes. According to the participant descriptions these themes are The Team Leader Role, Introduction to Nursing Leadership, A Great Learning Experience, Learning Outcomes, Emotions, and Negative Perceptions and Unanticipated Findings. From the gathered experiences of the participants the essence of the findings emerged as Learning Through Experience. Learning Through Experience increased the participants’ exposure to a variety of circumstances which enriched their knowledge about leadership and professional nursing. The results not only highlighted findings about what the participants had experienced related to leadership in nursing, they underlined specific learning outcomes related to professional nursing responsibilities.


These descriptions of the lived experiences of BN students in a leadership role during a clinical practicum demonstrated that experience is critical in the learning process. This research offers potential benefits to nursing education, promoting an alternative practice to maximize introduction to and education about leadership in nursing. Nursing students need to develop leadership skills prior to entering the workforce to make certain they are able to meet the challenges associated with the highly demanding healthcare environment.

Subject Area

Nursing students; Leadership; Learning; Experience