A Phenomenological Study of Work-Family Balance Among Female Deans of Nursing
McErlane, Kimberly S.
Bachand, Jeanie Krause
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Session presented on Friday, July 22, 2016: Purpose: The purpose of this qualitative, interpretive, hermeneutic phenomenological research study was to explore and interpret the lived experiences and shared practices of female nursing deans in baccalaureate nursing programs as it relates to work-family balance. Methods: Interpretation of lived experiences (phenomenology) and verbatim texts of life (hermeneutics) from in-depth interviews with participants provided a framework to explore the deans' experiences through the eyes and voices of nursing deans. After completing a pilot study interview, the snowballing technique was used to recruit 12 baccalaureate nursing deans from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky for the main study. One-on-one unstructured in-depth telephone interviews were conducted, recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using Van Manen's (1990) hermeneutic phenomenological method until data saturation was reached. Several study limitations emerged during data collection. The results may not be generalizable to the entire population of nursing deans because study participants were recruited from one geographic region, and snowballing technique was used for participant recruitment which may have resulted in recruitment of deans from a social network where the deans were acquaintances. A limitation that became apparent during data collection was that the numbers and types of programs the deans were responsible for varied. Results: Seven themes emerged from the main study data that illuminated the lived experiences of nursing deans. The themes included (a) feeling stressed, (b) deans cross borders between work and family, (c) sources of support for positive work-family balance, (d) specific experiences that hinder work-family balance, (e) strategies to achieve work-family balance, (f) satisfaction with the deanship position, and (g) participant recommendations for novice deans (McErlane, 2014). Study results confirmed the deanship role is stressful and the work demands are high. Despite intense job demands, deans derived satisfaction from the deanship role. Satisfaction was connected with having an ability to shape and manage borders between work and family life. Conclusion: Results from this study of nursing deans provided valuable information that can be used to mentor new leaders and create healthy work environments where work-family balance is fostered. Results of the study could be used as a foundation for future studies of the nursing deanship within a broader global context that includes different geographic locations and cultures.