MSN Thesis Defence: “Professional Development of Nursing Leaders: A Case Study of Canadian Nurses Association Presidents”

Academic Events
Trinity Western University
Alumni Hall, Reimer Student Centre
7600 Glover Road
Langley, BC V2Y 1Y1

By: Laura Colley

Supervisor:  Dr. Magdalena Theron

Second Reader:  Dr. Sonya Grypma

Third Reader:  Dr. Sonia Udod

Exam Chair:  Dr. Sheryl Reimer-Kirkham


Nursing leadership is important in every domain of nursing. However, nursing leadership development is not well understood or documented. This study addresses this gap by turning to an overlooked source of leadership knowledge – presidents of the Canadian Nurses Association (CNA).  The CNA has had exceptional leaders during its 108-year history.  Many have influenced nursing practice, changed the perception of nursing, and improved healthcare.  Yet, little is known about how they became such outstanding leaders.  Using a qualitative design, this study aims to inspire and inform current and future nurses by exploring the experiences and leadership journeys of CNA presidents.

Altogether, seven nurses who have held the title of President of the CNA were interviewed, either face-to-face or by Skype.  These interviews focused on their personal experiences and perspectives about their leadership journey. Their definitions, philosophies, and motivations for pursuing this particular leadership role were also explored. Through interpretive description methodology the following six themes were identified: Embracing Opportunities, Relentless Incrementalism, a Service Mindset, Taking the Long View, Enduring Heartbreak and Taking a Seat at the Table.

By providing a deeper understanding of the motivation and experiences of CNA Presidents, the findings of this study not only provide insight into the practice wisdom of those who have gone before, they also provide a resource for the development of nursing leaders today.