Clinical leadership and rural and remote practice: A qualitative study

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To explore how clinical leadership is perceived by nurses in rural and remote areas of New South Wales, Australia.


There are few empirical studies aimed at understanding clinical leadership from a rural and remote perspective.


A qualitative approach, based on interpretive phenomenology, used thematic analysis of recorded and transcribed interviews. Ethical approval was secured, 56 interviews were undertaken, across 14 different rural and remote health facilities, with nurses across the spectrum of practice.


Thematic analysis led to five themes and findings that support an understanding of clinical leadership from a rural and remote context. Clinical leaders were seen to considerably impact on the initiation of change and quality of care. They also faced barriers if the health facility was poorly staffed, lacked support and if the community were strongly co-dependent.


In rural and remote areas, clinical leadership is evident to support change, innovation and care quality.

Implications for Nursing Management

Managers should be aware that staff shortages and challenges to staff retention or the initiation of change are affected by poor clinical leadership. This paper suggests that managers who facilitate clinical leadership are better able to support professional education and greater efficiencies in the delivery of quality health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1314-1324
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Nursing Management
Issue number6
Early online date04 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


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