BSMC : is there room for me? : an exploration of nursing leadership in primary health care : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Nursing at Massey University, Auckland, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The unpredictability of health in a dynamic climate can result in a multiplicity of challenges. Indeed unpredictability has been referred to as the essence of creativity. Strong leadership in healthcare and importantly nursing is crucial to seeking solutions to organizational change especially when decision making will impact on the population’s health. By influencing policy objectives through leadership, nurses have the opportunity to develop strategies that make a difference to future complex problems. With the implementation of the Governments Better Sooner More Convenient (BSMC) policy agenda and principles underway from 2008 onwards, to reframe primary health care services, a series of key principles emerged including: a more personalized primary health care system with services moved closer to home; reduction in demand on hospitals and a package of services centred on integrated family health centres, with nurses taking a key role in shifting services from the secondary to primary care needs of patient support. From seventy health collective submissions positioning themselves to address these principles, nine were selected to move through to the next stage of development. The applications from all of the successful organizations referred to the need for improved multi-professional working and/or the importance of the nursing workforce to the BSMC agenda. Importantly, it would appear that a high quality nursing leadership function within the BSMC health collectives developing BSMC service configurations would be required to meet their goals. The purpose of this study was to explore with nurse leaders how they were able to contribute to these evolving primary health care collectives and changes that influenced the development of new or reviewed services, in addition to gaining insight into their challenges and opportunities as nurse leaders. The literature suggests a move away from the post heroic model of leadership and refers more frequently to coalitions of experts or leaders as a collective intelligence. These emerging characteristics represent a distributed leadership model that is leadership shared across varying people, professions and roles. It is this distributed model of leadership that provided a conceptual framework and a clear point of reference for this study. A qualitative approach derived from an interpretive perspective was the methodology chosen for this research. Eight out of nine potential nurse leaders involved in each of the regional health collectives participated in telephone interviews and communicated with the researcher via email networks. Theme identification was the essential task for the analysis process. Four key themes were identified with subthemes: politicization (power to influence), infrastructure (teams and education/training), coalitions of leaders (communication and relationships) and resilience (battling and visibility). The findings suggest on-going challenges to nurses leading in primary health care which include fragmentation among nurses, variable investment in regional nursing infrastructure, interdisciplinary relationship issues and limited training to develop future nurse leaders. Addressing these results requires clinical, strategic and professional nursing leaders to work within fora that are unified, cohesive and collectively agreed on their purpose.
Nurse administrators, Primary health care, Administration, New Zealand