Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Janne Dunham-Taylor

Committee Members

Colleen Noe, Diana Conco, Jo-Ann Marrs


Multiple studies have addressed registered nurse turnover in recent years. There is little research specifically addressing nurse manager turnover. The nurse manager is addressed in current research as being in a pivotal position to affect nurse retention. Research has focused on the skills necessary for nurse managers to affect turnover; however, there is little research addressing the pressure placed upon the nurse manager as he or she struggles to maintain the nursing workforce. This qualitative study explored the lived experience of feeling overwhelmed by 6 nurse managers currently working in an inpatient hospital environment. Interviews were analyzed using a modified version of the descriptive-interpretive phenomenological method as described by van Manen. Four essential themes were identified: there is nobody there, caught in the middle, feeling that you are a failure, and the inability to do. One paradigm case exhibited all of the essential themes. The essence of the nurse manager's lived experience of feeling overwhelmed is helplessness evidenced by constant unresolved conflicts in a complex, chaotic organization with changing expectations, unmet personal fulfillment, and constant turbulence. It is personal conflict related to the desire to impact positive patient and staff outcomes--to make a difference, while feeling that they fall short of the organization's and their own personal expectations. Theoretical implications related to Quantum theory, Emotional Intelligence, and Roger's Science of Unitary Human Beings are discussed in order to highlight current theoretical literature pertinent to the nurse manager's experience of feeling overwhelmed. Implications for research, practice, and education are discussed as facility leadership considers the experiences of this group of nurse managers. This study will better inform hospital administrators, nursing leadership, and staff nurses of the lived experience of this group of nurse managers.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.