Sample Paper on Growing Leaders: Nurse Leader Development

Growing Leaders: Nurse Leader Development


The healthcare environment has been increasingly complex, particularly due to emerging technologies, new inventions, and changes in care methods. The use of evidence-based practice principles in all care environments has particularly resulted in the constant need for nurse leaders who can take up responsibilities, initiate change, and promote monitoring and evaluation of new methodologies.  However, getting such nurse leaders would also mean that the leaders in place are sufficiently experienced to be confident in their leadership skills and their practice capabilities. Yet, the nursing environment in contemporary times is such that there is a large percentage of an aging population of nurse leaders, who retire with no one to replace them. The development of nurse leaders, therefore, becomes an imperative aspect in order to effectively address the need for experienced nurse leaders in the future. Accordingly, various approaches have been taken to help in promoting the development of nurse leaders in healthcare facilities.

Background/ Problem Statement

In a study by Dyess, Sherman, Pratt, and Chiang-Hanisko (2016), the combination of the growing healthcare practice complexity and the high percentage of baby boomers functioning as nurse leaders is the composition of a perfect storm in healthcare. While these baby boomers retire, their successors, who are mainly in the Generation Y category, also do not have significant amounts of time before they eventually retire. The total number of nurse leaders who will supposedly retire in the next 5-10 years comes to approximately 3 million nurses (Dyess et al., 2016). As such, the development of nurse leaders is a vital obligation that currently existing nurse leaders ought to look keenly into. This has however not been the case as succession planning for nurse leaders is reportedly one of the most challenging aspects of nursing in contemporary society. This project explores the concept of nurse leader development, focusing on the challenges to nurse leader development and providing recommendations for practices that can be used to foster the growth of nurse leaders.

Summary of the Proposed Project

The proposed project is expected to address the concept of nurse development. It will be founded on the principle of succession preparation and will be aimed at determining the challenges experienced in nurse leader development in contemporary times and recommending practices for promoting nurse leader development. The project will be conducted using a combination of primary and secondary research approaches, whereby the secondary research will be used to build a background for the problem. The primary research will be based on reports from evidence-based practice papers, which outline the indicators for effective nurse leader preparation. It is expected that the secondary materials will also give a lot of information on the nurse and patient expectations of nurse leaders, which would be used as guidelines for developing a strategy for nurse leader growth. From the expectations, a survey will be prepared and administered to students and registered nurses to enable the determination of the level of interest and/or competency towards being nurse leaders. The objective of the survey will be to determine whether the interest and competency factors are the constraining factors to nurse leader development, and how best to nurture interest and competency of younger nurses towards being developed as nurse leaders since it has been reported that those young nurses have the potential for growth (Stetler, Ritchie, Rycroft-Malone, & Charns, 2014). It is therefore hypothesized that the younger nurses would be interested in nurse leadership but may not know the channels to be followed to realize growth.

Literature Review

Various studies have been conducted on the concern around nurse leader development in healthcare facilities across the world. Stetler et al. (2014), conducted a study to determine who the nursing leaders at different functional levels are and how they contribute to the development and implementation of evidence-based practice in clinical care. According to the study, all nurse leaders ought to possess a combination of strategic, tactical, and technical expertise, as well as cross-cutting behaviors to enable them to foster problem-solving. The experience of leaders enables us to identify potential gaps in nursing leadership and to come up with strategies for closing those gaps. Dyess et al. (2016), also mentioned the issue of existing gaps in nurse leadership, which are in need of filling. Dyess et al. explained the context in which the need for nurse leader development is based. According to the authors, the current generations of nurse leaders will be retiring in the next few years and new leaders would be required to replace them. The main factors to be considered in developing nurse leaders according to Dyess et al. include the preparedness of younger nurses to uptake the roles of nurse leadership and their interest in the responsibilities of nurse leaders. This implies that when establishing the procedures for developing nurse leaders, consideration has to be made for those who are interested in the role and those who are prepared for the task at hand.

Other studies have also mentioned the role of nurse leader development in the healthcare environment based on the roles of nurse leader developers. According to ­ Joseph and Huber (2015), nursing leadership development has to be influenced by contemporary trends in nurse leadership, including innovation and interdependency, which are considered core concepts in nursing leadership practice. These concepts are recommended for consideration as an opportunity for developing better clinical leadership and education. These strategies are further proposed to build skills, knowledge, and abilities for the implementation of nurse leader development practices. These factors will be considered as part of the theoretical background for the proposed project.


Dyess, S.M., Sherman, R.O., Pratt, B.E., & Chiang-Hanisko, L. (2016). Growing nurse leaders: Their perspectives on nursing leadership and today’s practice environment. The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing (OJIN), 21(1). Retrieved from

Joseph, M.L., Huber, D.L. (2015). Clinical leadership development and education for nurses: Prospects and opportunities. Journal of Healthcare Leadership, 7, 55-64. Retrieved from

Stetler, C.B., Ritchie, J.A., Rycroft-Malone, J., & Charns, M.P. (2014). Leadership for evidence-based practice: Strategic and functional behaviors for institutionalizing EBP. Worldviews on Evidence-based Nursing, 11(4), 219-226. Retrieved from