Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jeanne Sorrell


This project study addressed the problem of frequent turnover of nurse managers at a Northeastern community hospital. The lack of retention of nurse managers has led to attenuated support for the nursing staff who continued to hold the front line in patient care. The purpose of this qualitative bounded case study was to explore nurse managers' experiences with turnover in order to identify strategies for enhancing retention. Work empowerment and servant leadership theories served as the frameworks for the study. Research questions focused on nurse managers' perceptions of empowerment and servant leadership characteristics that were important in decisions to assume and remain in a management/leadership role. Data collection included audio-recorded interviews with seven current or past full-time nurse managers, and observation of three of the participants at a leadership meeting. Interview transcripts were open coded and thematically analyzed. Observation data were categorized according to empowerment and servant leadership characteristics. Five themes were identified that related to research questions: struggling in management transition, seeking opportunity for transformation, being committed but powerless, embarking unprepared on an unplanned journey, and having the presence to lead others by serving. The findings of this study guided development of a 12-month program for new nurse managers that integrated characteristics of servant leadership to empower leaders and others. These contributions may promote positive social change by preparing new nurse managers for their role and developing their skills to become successful nurse managers.