Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 20(1) March 2007 : 62-71.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2007.18786
Nursing Research

Exploring a Theoretical Foundation for the Professional Practice Leader Role

Sara Lankshear, Heather Laschinger and Michael Kerr


Professional practice leader (PPL) roles have been a common part of the healthcare landscape for several years, yet the manner in which the role is operationalized varies significantly. This variability leads to ambiguity about the role, its purpose and the value added to the profession, the organization and the healthcare system. Some ambiguity may be due to the lack of a theoretical framework as a foundation for the role. In this climate of evidence-based practice, nursing leaders must demonstrate the rationale for innovations such as the PPL role.

The focus of this paper will be to contextualize the PPL role within Kanter's Theory of Structural Empowerment in order to provide a common language for the various stages of evolution of the PPL role (i.e., design, implementation and evaluation). A content analysis of existing PPL role descriptions in Ontario will be used to demonstrate the applicability of Kanter's theory to the PPL role.

This paper will be of interest to nursing leaders and professional practice leaders as an example of how theory can provide direction and support to the operationalization of professional practice roles, functions and outcomes.



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