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Women’s approaches to leadership have been distinctly different from men’s. Through women’s stories and women’s lives, we can discover unique and fresh insights about leadership critical for the rapidly changing world. Deans of nursing programs are predominately women. Nursing deans are in key positions to influence both the direction of the schools and the profession itself.
The purpose of this historical study was to describe and analyze the life of Patricia Morin, a nursing dean. The study focused on the meanings of these experiences as well as her role in academic leadership as she perceived and lived it.
The major contributions resulting from this study, to the existing body of knowledge on women in leadership positions, is the unique exploration of struggles, challenges and successes of Patricia Morin, the first dean of a BSN-completion program at a private liberal arts university. Patricia was the dean of nursing for more than twenty years.
Through a series of extensive interviews, the story of Patricia’s life was elicited. All interviews were transcribed verbatim, analyzed and coded for salient themes. An independent outside auditor was used to validate the accuracy, objectivity, and plausibility of the results drawn from the study.
Six major themes emerged from this study: importance of family support in relation to self-confidence; knowing oneself; passion and caring; mentoring and networking; leadership and followership; and gender. Unexpected life events and opportunities that influenced Patricia’s career were also identified.
No generalizations are possible from this study. The findings may inform and emphasize the importance of childhood support in developing self-confidence in women, identifying and mentoring potential academic nursing administrators early in their careers, recognition of the role of nursing leaders in addressing the oppression that exists in nursing, leadership development for future academic nurse leaders, and further exploration of the role of gender in leadership.