Nurse-Lead postdoctoral nurses fellows’ experiences with a leadership and mentoring program: a qualitative study
Egmond, K. van
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Background: Globally, postdoctoral nurses experience difficulties building sustainable careers because of limited numbers of academic positions and lack of leadership. Studies conducted in North America have shown that leadership and mentoring programs can support postdoctoral nurses in strengthening a sustainable career in nursing research. The European Nurse-Lead online program was developed to strengthen leadership, professional development and required competences. It is unknown what the influence is of this program on leadership, professional development and academic competences of European postdoctoral nurses. Objective: To explore the experiences of the fellows with the Nurse-Lead program, as well as the influence on leadership behavior, professional development and required competences. Method: This study used a qualitative design, in which the experiences of the fellows were explored by conducting semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed using thematic analysis. Results: Twelve interviews were conducted with fellows from five European countries. Three themes illustrated they experienced improved leadership skills and knowledge. The program had a positive influence on leading teams and establishing research programs. Some experienced positive change on work balance and improved strategic skills, such as applying for funding grants. The flexibility of the online course was described as a strength, but also as a challenge to prioritize the program over other work activities. Conclusion: The Nurse-Lead program is valuable for postdoctoral nurses and had positive influence on leadership, professional development and various academic competences to develop a sustainable career. Leadership and mentoring programs are highly important and can contribute to clear academic pathways and improve quality of patient care. Implications: More research is needed to explore the long-term influence of such programs on nursing research, education and clinical practice. Moreover, to substantiate the influence for European postdoctoral nurses more European countries should be included.