The clinical nurse educator as a congruent leader: A mixed method study


Educational leadership in the clinical setting has an influence on the promotion and achievement of competent and confident nurses. In Australia, the newly qualified registered nurse entering the workforce is exposed to a variety of experiential learning opportunities and engages with the nurse who is responsible for the clinical learning and development (clinical nurse educator) in the first-year graduate program. There is limited research examining the clinical nurse educator role and actual and potential leadership in the workforce. This study aimed to articulate the extent to which the clinical nurse educator is perceived as a clinical leader in the acute hospital setting. And specifically, the relationship of the role to the congruent leadership style. A mixed method convergent design (QUANT + QUAL) approach used (1) an online questionnaire with open and closed ended questions for the graduate nurses and (2) semi-structured individual interviews with graduate nurses, their clinical nurse educators and their nurse managers. Findings confirmed the clinical nurse educator leadership was visible, approachable, and relational with clearly identified values and passionate patient-centred principles. Challenges to the clinical nurse educator identity and confidence exist and impact the clinical role and leadership value. The clinical nurse educator did not need to be in a management position to lead and influence graduates’ successful transition to practice and integration into the clinical environment. The clinical nurse educator exhibits a congruent leadership style through engagement and promotion of the graduate nurses in their first year of nursing. The education role is of significance to meet contemporary health care expectations and promote quality patient care and new nurse retention in the healthcare organisation.


clinical nurse educator, graduate nurse, congruent leadership, clinical leadership, transition to practice

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