Professional role conflict and related coping strategies of baccalaureate nursing faculty: A phenomenological study
Efforts to blend and fulfill the multiple roles of nursing faculty frequently result in role conflict. In role conflict, there are clear but competing role expectations. The nurse educator is a faculty member who operates in an academic unit with a triad of role expectations unique to that setting: teaching, service, and research. Combining these academic expectations with the clinical orientation of the nurse is not necessarily a compatible match.
The degree of role conflict present, and the coping strategies utilized to manage or resolve the conflict are critical elements which affect the individual's ability to function effectively. Failure to resolve or decrease the conflict may threaten the individual's self-esteem, success, and role attainment (Duffy & Halloran, 1986).
Using a phenomenological approach, the study questioned: What are the consistently recurring concepts expressed by baccalaureate nursing faculty regarding professional role conflict, related coping strategies, and feelings of professional role success or disappointment?
The convenience sample of 16 baccalaureate nursing faculty was drawn from schools of nursing in Texas. The subjects participated in unstructured interviews and discussed their experiences of professional role conflict and related coping strategies. The individual descriptions were content analyzed for recurring themes and patterns, as well as for atypicality.
Findings revealed that the lived experiences of professional role conflict was unique for each subject, but certain patterns were found. Nine categories of professional role conflict emerged from the analysis, as well as different patterns of role expectations for tenured vs. non-tenured faculty.
Ethical issues were responsible for the greatest degree of continuing role conflict and coping frustration. The lack of adequate monetary compensation was cited as the major source of role dissatisfaction as well as the primary obstacle preventing further role satisfaction.
Effective coping strategies generally involved a combination of cognitive and emotion-focused strategies and emphasized personal prioritizing. Specific subject responses were frequently included to illustrate the uniqueness as well as possible atypicality of each experience. Serendipitous findings from the study included subject concern for the lack of caring and support on the part of nursing faculty for each other as well as for students. The desire for a mentoring system was also a frequently mentioned theme.