Nursing Leadership

Nursing Leadership 22(2) June 2009 : 30-40.doi:10.12927/cjnl.2009.20796
Innovation in Leadership

Uncovering Blind Spots in Education and Practice Leadership: Towards a Collaborative Response to the Nurse Shortage

Sandra Regan, Sally Thorne and Barbara Mildon


As the nursing shortage becomes an increasingly prominent everyday pressure for practice leaders, the search for quick solutions has intensified. A widespread perception has emerged within the service sector that nursing education is failing to fulfill its responsibility to prepare the next generation of nurses. This perception is escalating tensions between leaders in the education and practice sectors, and creating new barriers towards finding collaborative solutions. Although the "job ready/practice ready" debate between practice and education has been a long-standing undercurrent within nursing, extreme shortages affecting practice sector performance across the country create conditions that fuel heightened distrust and division. In this context, it becomes increasingly important that nursing leaders in education and practice engage in thoughtful and respectful dialogue to ensure that tensions between the two sectors are managed and counterproductive schisms prevented. In this paper, we deconstruct some of the current thinking regarding responsibility for the current problem by describing differences in the distinct cultures and contexts of the practice and education sectors, noting potential "blind spots" that interfere with our mutual understanding and encouraging a better-informed, shared responsibility to promote constructive engagement in preparing tomorrow's nursing workforce.



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