Exploring a model of skillful engagement in nursing practice

Jan L Keller-Unger, The University of Texas School of Nursing at Houston


Prominent challenges facing nurse leaders are the growing shortage of nurses and the increasingly complex care required by acutely ill patients. In organizations that shortage is exacerbated by turnover and intent to leave. Unsatisfactory working conditions are cited by nurses when they leave their current jobs. Disengagement from the job leads to plateaued performance, decreased organizational commitment, and increased turnover. Solutions to these challenges include methods both to retain and to increase the effectiveness of each nurse. The specific aim of this study was to examine the relationships among organizational structures thought to foster the clinical development of the nurse, with indicators of the development of clinical expertise, resulting in outcomes of positive job attitudes and effectiveness. Causal loop modeling is incorporated as a systems tool to examine developmental cycles both for an organization and for an individual nurse to look beyond singular events and investigate deeper patterns that emerge over time. The setting is an academic specialty-care institution, and the sample in this cross-sectional study consists of paired data from 225 RNs and their nurse managers. Two panels of survey instruments were created based on the model's theoretical variables, one completed by RNs and the other by their Nurse Managers. The RN survey panel examined the variables of structural empowerment, magnet essentials, knowledge as identified by the Benner developmental stage, psychological empowerment, job stage, engagement, intent to leave, job satisfaction and the early recognition of patient complications. The nurse manager survey panel examined the Benner developmental stage, job stage, and overall level of nursing performance. Four regression models were created based on the outcome variables. Each model identified significant organizational and individual characteristics that predicted higher job satisfaction, decreased intent to leave, more effectiveness as measured by early recognition and acting upon subtle patient complications, and better job performance. Implications for improving job attitudes and effectiveness focus on ways that nursing leaders can foster a more empowering and healthy work environment.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Keller-Unger, Jan L, "Exploring a model of skillful engagement in nursing practice" (2008). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3309219.