Factors influencing career success of nursing leaders in hospitals

Date of Completion

January 1989


Education, Adult and Continuing|Health Sciences, Nursing|Health Sciences, Health Care Management




This descriptive study examined four factors (educational preparation, mentoring, personal characteristics, and chance) that have facilitated the career success of nursing leaders in hospitals. Career success was defined as having been promoted to a designated hospital leadership position at the first line, middle, or executive level.^ The sample consisted of 116 nursing leaders employed in six general, acute care hospitals in Rhode Island. The Career Success Survey developed by Zimmerman (1983) was adapted for use in this study.^ Personal characteristics was the factor ranked as most important in facilitating career success. The five self-reported characteristics perceived as most influential in career success were: "knowledgeable", "competent", "responsible", "hardworking", and "committed". The second ranked factor was educational preparation. Mentoring ranked third, while chance or unplanned situational opportunity ranked fourth.^ Most of the respondents viewed their education as a present position requirement, as a source of credibility, and as a means of obtaining financial rewards. The respondents disagreed that their educational preparation opened job opportunities, allowed more challenging positions, or provided prestige.^ The most frequent types of mentors were supervisor, peer/colleague, and teacher. Providing opportunities and responsibilities, encouragement and recognition of potential, and instruction and training were the three most frequently reported types of mentoring assistance. Nursing leaders indicated having mentored others in the past and the likelihood of mentoring others in the future.^ Although the respondents ranked chance as the least important factor in their career success, a significant difference was observed (P $>$.05) in the perceptions of first line, middle, and executive level leaders of the influence of chance on career success. Sixty-eight percent of the first line leaders identified chance as a factor in their career success.^ The most frequently reported additional factors influencing career success were: work experience, significant events in life or career, and commitment to or longevity in an organization. Advice offered to aspiring nursing leaders was to obtain advanced education, develop human relations skill, and gain work experience. Implications are presented for career planning and development in nursing. Suggestions for further research are offered. ^