The impact of mentoring and other factors on the career progression of nurse executives

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- This descriptive, exploratory study was undertaken to determine the importance of a range of factors on the career progression of nurse executives employed in hospitals in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. These included personal factors such as a dependent child, dependent other, gender and age; work-related factors such as job opportunities, part-time work and proximity to opportunities; and professional factors such as educational level, diversity of experience, membership of an organisation, length of time in the profession, and having a primary or secondary mentor. The impact of mentoring on career progression was of particular interest to the researcher and featured prominently in this study. The study population consisted of nurse executives from public, private and not-for-profit hospitals in both metropolitan and rural NSW. The chief nurse at each hospital selected participants on the basis of meeting the description of "nurse executive" they were given. A personalised letter was then sent to the executives along with a self-administered survey instrument, Mentoring and Other Factors Impacting on the Career Progression of Nursing Executives. State-wide distribution of the questionnaires occurred by post over a two-month period in 2004. SPSS was used to analyse the quantitative data. Frequencies, Pearson's Chi-Square and logistic regression were used to compare groups of mentored and non-mentored executives and factors which they perceived impacted on their career progression. Qualitative data were coded, grouped and categorised and six themes were identified. Four hundred and five questionnaires were distributed and 300 (74%) returned. Only 55% of executives had a mentor and those mentored did not rank mentoring as significantly impacting on their career progression. There was no significant difference in the incidence of mentoring between males and females, age, grading level, years of experience, years as a registered nurse, years as a nurse executive, time in current position, educational level, management qualifications or employment site. There was a trend toward mentored nurse executives being younger, although not at a significant level. A significant difference was that mentored executives were more likely to be currently studying or have completed a degree at master or doctoral level (p = 0.05). Only one half of nurse executives were prepared at master level. Also, significantly more mentored individuals were members of professional organisations than non-mentored executives (p = 0.035). The incidence of mentoring of others showed a significant difference between these two groups with more mentored executives currently mentoring (p = 0.000) and having mentored someone in the past {p = 0.000). Comparisons were also made between managers at high and low grades. Nurse executives at high grades were more likely to have been an executive for longer (p = 0.012), to have their master degree (p = 0.000) and to have experienced mentoring than were those at lower grades although this was not statistically significant. Thematic analysis revealed that the majority of those mentored felt that having a mentor was crucial to their career progression, while other mentored executives also credited hard work for their achievements. Only half of those executives who were not mentored felt that mentoring would have made a difference in their career progression and less than half (not mentored) did not feel that mentoring was important at all. Nurse executives had little educational preparation for their role, although they rated education as having a very significant impact on their career progression. More importance was placed on variables such as diversity of experience, length of time in the profession or job opportunities than mentoring or organisational membership. Diversity of experience, which rated as the most significant impact on career progression for nurse executives, needs further research to determine the most beneficial types of experiences. The findings strongly indicate that nurses who aspire to executive positions should have master level qualifications, be a member of a management organisation and locate a mentor for themselves early in their career.
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