How Do Registered Nurses Understand Followership?
Purpose: This study addresses the question – how do RNs, who are members of a healthcare team in an acute care setting, understand followership? Research Design: This research was conducted following Charmaz’s approach to constructivist grounded theory. Sample/Setting: Eleven participants were recruited from two medical and two surgical units in a tertiary care hospital in Western Canada. Participants were registered nurses and employed in one of the target units. Methods/Procedure: This study was conducted between August 2021 and April 2022. After ethical and operational approvals were secured, the nurses participated in semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed and analyzed. Findings: The core category of trusting informal and formal leaders was co-constructed from the data. This reflects the nature and quality of the registered nurses’ relationships with informal and formal leaders and their confidence in the leader’s ability to guide the team toward their shared goal (safe and competent patient care). A conceptual model, titled Followership as Trust in Acute Care Nursing Teams, illustrates that the nurses’ decision to trust (and subsequently to engage in following) hinges on sharing the load (understanding one’s role, accepting one’s role, and working together); demonstrating knowledge (having experience, modelling, and mentoring); and connecting through communication (knowing the goal and communicating clearly). Conclusions: This study underscores the importance of trust between followers and leaders for effective team function and safe patient care. It also points to the need for more research on the follower-leader dynamic in nursing to inform education, policy, and practice so that every nurse possesses the knowledge and skill to be both a follower and a leader.
nurses, nursing, follow, follower, followership
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)