Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Claudia L. Edwards

Second Supervisor

Carleen Evans

Abstract

Through the lens of Kanter’s theory of structural empowerment, this study sought to explore oncology nurses’ perceptions of structural empowerment and their insights on how existing structures provide support, opportunities, information, and resources needed to get their work accomplished and impact the delivery of safe quality care. The research sought to examine the extent to which oncology nurses believe they are working within this prescribed environment. Through qualitative research methods, this study used in-depth interviews to explore seven oncology nurses’ perceptions of structural empowerment. The research questions were: (a) What are oncology nurses’ perceptions of structural empowerment? and (b) How do oncology nurses perceive themselves as having the information, support, opportunities, and resources needed to get their job done? The findings showed that: (a) shared governance structures were highlighted as existing and empowering, (b) promotion of continued professional development and growth exists, (c) autonomy is encouraged at the direct-care level and welcomed by many, (d) a presence of effective communication and receipt of information was noted, but opportunities for improvement were made, and (e) participation in the delivery of oncology care is very rewarding but emotionally challenging. Recommendations were made to improve the inter-connectedness between the unit-based and departmental councils; evaluate to see if professional development and growth structures are meeting organizational and individual needs; create a more situational leadership approach to supervising staff to increase staff competency level; and further investigate the concepts of empathy, setting emotional boundaries, and building resiliency as they relate to structure of empowerment for oncology nurses.

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