1. Warshawsky, Nora E. PhD, RN, CNE, NEA-BC, FAAN

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Historically, nursing administration research has focused on the nursing workforce and care delivery models.1 In the 1990s, formal nursing administration research agendas were introduced to advance the state of the science. The more recent work that followed has evolved rapidly and informed our understanding of the relationships among patients, nurses, organizations, and the healthcare environment.

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In 2016, CGEAN (Council on Graduate Education in Administrative Nursing) published a new agenda to guide nursing administration research.1 The 8 priority foci included the economic value of nursing, innovative models of nursing care delivery, healthy practice environments, patient safety and outcomes, effectiveness of leadership, effectiveness of leadership education, use of technology and data, and use of innovative research designs. At our 2018 International Nursing Administration Research Conference, we convened a small work group to identify relevant research questions. The topics identified through the group discussion affirmed the continued relevance of the 1st 6 priorities. Although these foci remain relevant, the nature of the research questions is changing. For example, much of our knowledge of the nursing workforce and practice environments is informed by the perspectives of veteran and Baby Boomer nurses working in decades-old environments.2 Our newest members of the profession are of a different generation, exhibiting different preferences and responses to the environment. The healthcare environment itself is significantly more complex and provides more opportunities and challenges for nurses. Therefore, we have new questions about nurses, practice environments, and the impact on patients to answer.


Use of technology and data and innovative research designs were the 2 priorities identified in 2016 that did not surface in the more recent discussion, an interesting notion given that these foci represent opportunities for accelerating nursing leadership science. Granted, the group composition and process were not as rigorous as our 2016 approach, but one does not have to look far to see the relevance and influence of data science and emerging research methods (eg, translational science, dissemination and implementation science, and participatory action research) to leadership practice.


There is a clear disconnect between researchers and practice leaders, and this represents an opportunity to partner in seeking solutions to practice problems that plague nurse leaders. For instance, when I present findings from my research to nurse leaders, they usually thank me for providing insight to an important problem. They quickly follow with more related questions that need to be answered to lead in our highly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous clinical practice environments. I am challenged to pursue funding to support the research studies needed to seek empirical answers to their questions, yet the reality is that practice leaders need answers now. Thus, they implement informed strategies to innovate practice because they simply cannot wait for empirical evidence to emerge.


As a PhD-prepared nurse researcher teaching in executive leadership doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) programs, I see a multitude of opportunities to collaborate. The American Academy of Colleges of Nursing reinforced academic practice partnerships by creating 2 nursing doctorates: 1 with expertise to generate new knowledge and 1 with expertise to innovative practice using the new knowledge.3 Our nurse leaders who conceptualized the practice doctorate and designed the DNP essentials to guide programs that develop innovative change agents had a clear vision of what was needed to transform practice; yet, the reality of making that happen is still a work in progress.


Opportunities exist through academic-practice partnerships to blend the strengths of the experts in research methods with the experts on getting evidence into practice. It is the yin and yang of nursing leadership science. DNP-prepared nurse leaders are partnering with PhD-prepared nurse researchers to transform care delivery models.4,5 The foundations for collaboration are in place, but how do we accelerate and strengthen our work to fulfill the promise of these doctorates?


The relatively new participatory-action research, translational and implementation sciences, greatly expands our collaborative science toolkit. These methods are designed to rigorously and simultaneously test the effectiveness of the innovations and how innovations are implemented. These more nimble methods blend the expertise of both nursing doctorates. Through collaboration, we will be able to advance our knowledge of nursing leadership science to find answers to our leadership practice challenges.




1. Scott E, Murphy L, Warshawsky N. Nursing administration research priorities: findings from a Delphi study. J Nurs Adm. 2016;46(5):238-244. [Context Link]


2. McClure M, Poulin M, Sovie M, Wandelt M. Magnet hospitals: attraction and retention of professional nurses (The Original Magnet Study). In: McClure M, Hinshaw AS, eds. Magnet Hospitals: Attraction and Retention of Professional Nurses. Kansas City: American Nurses Association; 2002. [Context Link]


3. Trautman DE, Idzik S, Hammersia M, Rosseter R. Advancing scholarship through translational research: the role of PhD and DNP prepared nurses. Online J Issues Nurs. 2018;23(2). Accessed January 31, 2019. [Context Link]


4. Williams TE, Howard PB. An academic-practice partnership model to grow and sustain advanced practice nursing. J Nurs Adm. 2017;47(12):629-635. [Context Link]


5. Tussing TE, Brinkman B, Francis D, Hixon B, Labardee R, Chipps E. The impact of the doctorate of nursing practice nurse in a hospital setting. J Nurs Adm. 2018;48(12):600-602. [Context Link]