Susan BallFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Cynthia A Goodrich


Growing the Next Generation, Nurse Educators, Nursing Faculty Shortage, Retired Military Nurses, Servant Leadership


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Other Education


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of nurse educators with prior military careers at various public and private colleges in the South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Rhode Island, and Indiana. The theory guiding this study was the concept of servant leadership explored first by Robert Greenleaf in 1977, and later expanded upon by numerous other researchers. The study was designed to answer four research questions: (a) What does it mean to be a nurse educator with a prior military career? (b) What drives individuals to choose nursing, military service, and nursing education as careers? (c) What similarities exist in behaviors, attitudes, and beliefs of nurse educators with prior military careers? (d) How do nurses, military members, and nurse educators lead by serving? Ten nurse educator participants with prior military careers were interviewed, along with their colleagues and students; participants were observed instructing students in their classrooms, and written documents were reviewed to ascertain commonalities and shared meaning of their experiences. Data were analyzed through coding and horizonalization which resulted in theme development and a composite description of the phenomenon. Eight themes emerged: Managing the Dichotomy, Growing the Next Generation, Leaving a Legacy, Connecting with Students, Protecting Students, Leading by Example, Fulfilling the Mission, and Going Above and Beyond. Findings indicated the existence of servant leadership attributes as key elements of the manner in which participants experienced the role of nurse educator following a military career. Results of the study provided a foundation for the potential recruitment of retired military nurses into nursing education as a means of eliminating the nursing faculty shortage.