Document Type



Adult Education

First Advisor's Name

Ann Nevin

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Janice Sandiford

Third Advisor's Name

Kathleen Blais

Fourth Advisor's Name

Thomas Reio


Career Development, Nurse Executives, Nurse Leaders

Date of Defense



This qualitative study was designed to explore the career development of Black female chief nurse executives. Although a small proportion of Black female nurses have achieved positions at the nurse executive level, there remains a paucity of Black female nurse executives in this crucial position which raised the question of what factors contributed to this lack of advancement, but, more important, what factors have contributed to the success of the few who have achieved such level of success in healthcare organizations. The purpose of the study was to explore the career paths of Black female chief nurse executives with a view of understanding the factors which both facilitate and hinder the career development of these leaders in healthcare organizations. The guiding research question was, How do Black female nurse executives in this sample describe their career development? The participants in this study were Black female chief nurse executives located throughout the United States who, for the most part, were raised in segregation with a strong family foundation. To collect data, semistructured telephone interviews were conducted with 10 Black female chief nurse executives throughout the United States. The transcripts from the interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Using Super’s (1990, 1996), and Gottfredson’s (1981, 1996, 2002, 2005) career development theories and critical race theory (Crenshaw, 1995; Delgado, 2000) as the theoretical framework, the researcher found that the participants’ career development was influenced by (a) strong support system, (b) guidance, (c) influence of diversity, and (d) servant leadership. The findings help us understand the factors that have contributed to their successes as Black chief nurse executives. With the increasingly diverse population and concurrent increasing diversity in nursing and concerns about healthcare disparities, it is imperative that organizations attract, hire, develop, retain, and advance qualified Black nurses. Future studies addressing not only the career development of Black nurses but nurses in general might be informed by the present study’s findings. Recommendations are offered for nursing practice, education, and organizational policy.





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