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                            The Lived Experience of the Novice Nursing Dean: Exploring the Meaning and Significance
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UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones


The Lived Experience of the Novice Nursing Dean: Exploring the The Lived Experience of the Novice Nursing Dean: Exploring the

Meaning and Significance Meaning and Significance

Melissa Rae Bouws
University of Nevada, Las Vegas, [email protected]

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Part of the Educational Leadership Commons, and the Nursing Commons

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Bouws, Melissa Rae, "The Lived Experience of the Novice Nursing Dean: Exploring the Meaning and
Significance" (2013). UNLV Theses, Dissertations, Professional Papers, and Capstones. 1920.

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Melissa Rae Bouws

Hope College


Masters of Science in Nursing

Michigan State University


A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment

of the requirements for the

Doctor of Philosophy -- Nursing

School of Nursing

Division of Health Science

The Graduate College

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

August 2013

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Strength and Limitations

The strength of this research was that it contributed new knowledge that had not

been explored before. The nursing dean, especially the novice in the position, occupies a

leadership role that is relevant to the nursing profession and the future of nursing

education. The nursing dean is challenged to meet not only the demands of educational

administration, but the changing clinical practice setting, the changing population of

n unprecedented

shortage of nurses and nurse faculty. This role of leadership has great influence on the

future of nurses due to the responsibilities the nursing dean encounters. There is a need

for further understanding of the significance of this unique lived experience to develop

not only the nursing dean position, but to also to advance the nursing profession.

There were several assumptions and limitations to this study. The first assumption

was that the qualitative methodology would bring out true, insightful and detailed stories

of the lived experiences of novice deans. It was also assumed that I would be able to

elicit information from the participants using open-ended questions, despite being a

novice as a phenomenological investigator. The need to remain neutral during the

investigation, free of the influence of bias, personal beliefs, or practices, was also

assumed. While the nursing school deans in this study all had , it was also

assumed that they function in a similar capacity, whether in the setting of a liberal arts

college, community college or large university.

Some limitations of this study were the potential to interpret the results based on the

into one of the three

theories that are presented in the literature review. When investigating the state of the

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science with nursing deans, the literature described the dean role as one that is

challenging and hard to recruit and retain (Lamborn, 1991; Redman, 2001; Quell, 2005;

Blass, 2011). Previous studies on the academic dean described role stress, ambiguity,

and lack of fit with the environment (Gmelch, Wolverton, Wolverton, & Sarros, 1999;

Wolverton, Wolverton, & Gmelch, 1999). Through the audit trail and reflective

journaling, I was able to set aside my previous knowledge of this role, and I enabled the

process of unknowing and epoché (Munhall, 2007). Another limitation was that there

were no gender specifics in the sample, which may have affected the heterogeneity of the

results, given that the majority of nursing deans are women. Other factors that should be

considered as limitations were the potential time constraints on interviews, travel time for

the face-to-face interviews, and the number of participants available who met the

inclusion criteria.


The methods of inquiry applied for this study were explained, with details of how the

participants will be recruited, the procedure of IRB approval and informed consent, and

the process of data collection and analysis. The ethical principles that pertain to this

study were identified as well as the need to maintain integrity in data collection and


Nursing schools in the United States are at the crossroads of transformational change.

This change requires leadership that stresses the importance of supporting and

revitalizing faculty to teach in the midst of the challenges of nursing education.

Exploring the lived experiences of the novice nursing dean is a starting point for a

phenomenon that has not been studied before and needs to be investigated to more fully

Page 167


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siblings of children with cancer. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 21(4), 256-265.

Wolverton, M., & Gmelch, W. (2002). College deans: Leading from within. Westport,

CT: American Council on Education/Oryx Press.

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environment fit in the academic deanship. Innovative Higher Education, 24, 203-


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ambiguity on academic deans. Journal of Higher Education, 70, 80-106.

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deanship: What challenges do deans face? Higher Education Report, 28, 1-144

Page 168



Graduate College

University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Melissa Rae Bouws


Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 1995

Hope College, Holland, Michigan

Masters of Science in Nursing, 2007

Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan


Bouws, M. (2011, March). Role Transition from Expert Clinician to Novice Educator: A
Concept Analysis. Poster Presentation, Sigma Theta Tau: Kappa Epsilon at-Large
Chapter, Spring Scholarship Celebration, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Bouws, M. (2012, April). The Experience of Transition to Dean of Nursing: Exploring
the Meaning and Significance. Poster Presentation, Midwest Nursing Research
Society, Dearborn, Michigan


PhD Dissertation Award from the University of Nevada Las Vegas School of

Sigma Theta Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter: 2013 Research Award, $1300.00

Dissertation Title: The Lived Experience of the Novice Nursing Dean: Exploring the

Meaning and Significance

Dissertation Examination Committee:

Chairperson, Lori Candela, Ed.D.

Committee Member, Tish Smyer, DNSc

Committee Member, Carolyn Yucha, Ph.D.

Graduate Faculty Representative, LeAnn Putney, Ph.D.

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