Date of Paper/Work


Type of Paper/Work

Doctor of Nursing Practice Project

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice



First Advisor

Nanette Hoerr


Doctor of Nursing Practice


The healthcare environment is constantly changing and since nurses represent the largest number of healthcare providers, nursing is well positioned to lead in the transformation of healthcare. However, not all nurses recognize themselves as leaders because of a perceived lack experiential knowledge or training. Understanding the leadership perceptions of nurses in practice is important, especially as increasing numbers of novice nurses are hired into positions that have historically been reserved for experienced nurses. For example, more novice nurses are hired into home care positions that require self-directed practice and the ability to demonstrate leadership abilities is called for. This qualitative study, designed to gain an understanding of nursing leadership perceptions, explores qualities integral to nursing leadership and considers strategies that support leadership readiness in novice nurses. Six nurses participated in individual interviews and data collected was analyzed for content. Five themes evolved, including: 1) The term ‘nursing leadership’ lacks common definition, (2) Leadership and management reflect different understandings, (3) Not everyone agrees with the premise that all nurses are leaders, (4) Experience is necessary for leadership, (5) Leadership skills can be taught, developed, and nurtured. This study offers several recommendations to create effective ways to build the “leader within.” A small sample size, suggests additional research is needed to validate the study findings.