Alumna Spotlight: Debbie Scott

Debbie Scott graduated from St. Olaf College and became a nurse to make a difference in the lives of others.  At first, it was with patients but soon realized she could make a greater impact as a leader.  Nursing leadership has become her passion while working as a Patient Care Manager for 19 years. Debbie is an authentic, transformational leader who cares for her staff, so they can better care for patients

MAOL students complete an action research project to address a current leadership issue. For her project, Debbie focused on the endurance leaders need to be successful. Here is a summary of her project on findings.


Understanding the Value of Sabbaticals for Nurse Leaders

Burnout and turnover are problems affecting staff nurses and nurse leaders across the country. Nurses and nurse leaders who leave their jobs contribute to an emerging nursing shortage caused by an aging population and many baby boomer nurses retiring (Snavely, 2016).  Nursing leaders play key roles in creating positive work environments, which help reduce burnout and turnover in staff nurses (Brown, Fraser, Wong, Muise, Cummings, 2013).  Nurse leaders, who are ineffective due to burnout or decide to leave their roles, affect staff nurses negatively and are a detriment to patient care (Brown et al., 2013).  Sabbaticals are a proven strategy in many professions to renew, refresh, and revitalize, but are rarely used in nursing (Schaar, Swenty, Phillips, Embree, McCool, & Shirey, 2012). 

My study explored the perceptions of nurse leaders on the value of sabbaticals as a strategy to revitalize and retain nurse leaders.  Qualitative data was collected from three focus groups of nurse leaders at a large metropolitan hospital.  Analysis of the responses informed questions for a survey on sabbaticals that was distributed to members of a professional nurse leader organization.  The Conservation of Resources Theory (Hofboll, 2001) and the Quality Caring Model (Duffy, 2018) were the theoretical frameworks used to interpret the data.  This study found that while nurse leaders see the benefits and would like to participate in a sabbatical program, they also shared anxieties about leaving their crucial role and questioned if the organization valued or cared enough about them to offer such a program.