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Understanding clinical leadership behaviors in practice to inform baccalaureate nursing curriculum: a comparative study between the United States and Australia novice nurses

Sherylyn M. Watson, Heather Ferrillo, Susan A. Goncalves and Karen Clark-Burg



While the nursing profession recognizes the importance of leadership behaviors, limited evidence exists on essential clinical leadership behaviors that nursing students should exhibit upon graduation. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were common leadership behaviors exhibited by recently graduated baccalaureate clinical staff nurses in the United States and Australia.


A quantitative descriptive study with a comparative design was conducted using The Clinical Leadership Survey.


Similar clinical leadership behaviors were reported by nurses from the two countries though there was a statistically significant difference in the overall frequency of behaviors between the two groups. Behaviors in the ‘challenging the process’ domain were less commonly practiced in both countries, identifying a clinical gap and opportunity for student development.


This study identifies the central behaviors that should be included in baccalaureate nursing education curriculum in order to prepare students for successful transition into practice.

Corresponding author: Sherylyn M. Watson, PhD, MSN, RN, CNE, Davis & Henley College of Nursing, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT, 06825, USA, Phone: +1 203 416 3792, Fax: +1 203 365 7662, E-mail:

  1. Research funding: None declared.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: Authors state no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: The research related to human use has complied with all the relevant national regulations, institutional policies, and in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration, and has been approved by the authors’ Institutional Review Board of equivalent committee: Sacred Heart University, CT, USA # 181219A and University of Notre Dame, Australia, Freemantle, W.A. # 019019F.


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Received: 2021-02-12
Accepted: 2021-06-25
Published Online: 2021-07-06

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