The relationship between leadership styles of clinical facilitators and maturity levels of learner nurses in the clinical learning environment of Western Cape hospitals
Clinical facilitators act as leaders who influence the learning of learner nurses. As leaders, they are involved in the provision of guidance and accompaniment of learners in the clinical learning environment. Learning environments are surroundings, forces, and external stimuli that influence learners, either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is very important that learners are managed in such a way that clinical practice increases professional competency, including independence and self-directedness. One way of achieving this goal is to adjust a leadership style of a clinical supervisor according to the maturity level of a learner in the clinical learning environment. The leadership styles and maturity levels as outlined by the Hersey- Blanchard Theory informed this study. At hospitals in the Western Cape, learner nurses are accompanied by clinical facilitators who act as leaders in the clinical practice according to their learner nurse maturity level. The relationship between leadership styles of clinical facilitators and the maturity levels of learner nurses in the clinical learning environment at Western Cape Hospitals is unknown. The purpose of the study was to explore and describe the relationship between the leadership styles of clinical facilitators and the maturity level of learner nurses in the clinical learning environment of Western Cape hospitals. In this study; a quantitative, descriptive, explorative, and comparative design was followed. The accessible population was all the clinical facilitators (N = 30) allocated to 2nd, 3rd and 4th year learner nurses (N = 641) at Western Cape hospitals. Stratified sampling was used and the sample size was calculated by applying the proportional allocation of sample sizes. A similar questionnaire for clinical facilitators and nursing students was developed from a literature review and based on a 4-point scale. It took around 30 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Most of the components (sections) of both instruments obtained a Cronbach’s alpha (α) above the acceptable standard value of .7. Data was analysed by using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) Version 21 software program. A descriptive and inferential data analysis was conducted and the Pearson’s correlation calculated. Reliability and validity of the research process was ensured and ethical principles adhered to. Out of four components, two indicated a weak positive relationship between the leadership style of a facilitator and the maturity level of a learner nurse. Most learner nurses indicated that they were mature (able and willing) while the clinical facilitators indicated that they focused more on the selling and participation styles of leadership. The general results indicated that there was a weak positive relationship (r = 0.15) between the leadership style of the clinical facilitators and the maturity level of learner nurses.