Understanding doctoral supervision in nursing: 'It's a complex fusion of skills'.


Jackson D(1), Power T(2), Usher K(3).
Author information:
(1)University of Technology Sydney, Australia; The University of Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]
(2)University of Technology Sydney, Australia; The University of Sydney, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]
(3)University of New England, Armidale, Australia. Electronic address: [Email]


BACKGROUND: Increasing the numbers of doctorally prepared nurses is essential to the continuing development of the nursing discipline. However, supervision can be fraught with relationship issues including role blurring, boundary issues, mis-matched expectations and students and supervisors not being fully equipped for doctoral training. OBJECTIVE: In this study, we sought to examine the experiences of nurses supervising doctoral students in the contemporary university environment. DESIGN: Qualitative research design. SETTINGS: Narratives were drawn from academic nurses in Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-one doctorally qualified nurse academics with a combined total of 427 doctoral completions and 454 doctoral examinations participated. METHODS: Participants were recruited via social media and snowball sampling and interviewed face-to-face using internet platforms such as Zoom©. Interviews were recorded, selectively transcribed and thematically analysed. RESULTS: Analysis of the data resulted in one overarching theme, managing the candidature, comprised of the sub-themes: managing relationships, managing expectations, managing emotions and managing labour. CONCLUSIONS: Successful doctoral supervision requires considerable expertise and labour and that much of the labour associated with supervision is not recognised. In additional to the cognitive and educational aspects, are processes around personal growth, emotions and relationships. We recommend that universities consider the complexity of doctoral supervision when planning workloads and supervision training activities.