Date of Award

Summer 8-1986

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)



Committee Director

Christine Heine

Committee Member

Sue W. Young

Committee Member

Linda L. Davis

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.N8M54


This study examined the perceptions of 43 head nurse participants from private, voluntary and government hospital settings. Utilizing a tool adapted by the researcher, the Head Nurse Role Questionnaire (HNRQ), the study sought to explore five areas of job context: Job Variability, Job Expertise, Job Definition, Job Capacity and Job Incentives. Differences in perceptions were analyzed utilizing descriptive statistics and Analyses of Variance. The three organizational dimensions of this study included: standardization, formalization and organizational culture. Findings revealed significant differences in Job Definition. Descriptive statistical results indicated differences in hospital settings. Qualitative analyses displayed three categories of head nurse attributes essential for role success: Personal Qualities, Clinical Skills and Managerial Qualities. Organizational interventions to maximize the head nurse role involved four major areas: Leadership, Clinical, Personal and Managerial. The head nurse role requires greater clarification, flexibility and organizational $upport. Further research is recommended to examine all aspects of the head nurse role in acute care hospitals.


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