Academic journal article Education

Predictors of School and Nursing Service Managers' Coping Ability

Academic journal article Education

Predictors of School and Nursing Service Managers' Coping Ability

Article excerpt

Introduction: Research Problem and Aim

This research project is concerned with investigating the coping ability of South African school and nursing service managers amidst increasingly high daily demands and contemporary challenges. Both groups of managers find themselves in high stress professions. Burnard (1991:1) points out in this regard that the very fact of caring for others--in whatever capacity--implies that all professionals in a caring capacity are open to suffering from stress and stress-related problems. In addition, owing to political and social changes within the South African context and the influence of these changes on educational and health care structures, new and even higher demands are being placed on most professionals in educational and health care fields, in particular on professionals in managerial positions. In fact, the contemporary managerial role of school and nursing service managers has increased dramatically because their roles became more difficult.

School managers (principals) are facing a specialist learning curve as their responsibilities in their schools take on the basic requirements of a small commercial business (Ostell & Oakland, 1995:68). Principals are increasingly expected to manage school budgets and curriculum development, as well as the fears and situations which make their fellow teachers in the schools feel tense, frustrated or upset. Consequently, they find themselves in the dual position of being both a manager of people and of financial matters, which often makes high demands on their coping ability. This includes keeping in mind that success breeds success and earns money, whereas failure is automatically followed by a loss of resources. In accordance with Parikh (1991:xx) school managers, like most managers in various fields, are now more extensively exposed to newly defined demands, such as excellence, creativity, innovation, peak performance and leadership, which require a certain know-how, do-how and feel-how to enable them to hold their own successfully. These newly defined demands are also applicable with respect to nursing service managers.

Nursing service managers' current role demands a full range of skills which include planning, assessing, appraising, budgeting, team building, leadership, monitoring and teaching (Bowman, 1995:1). Acquisition of these skills requires time, resources and opportunity. However, factors such staffing problems, lack of money, high workloads, few resources seem to inhibit staff development. Furthermore, nursing service managers have to deal with the inordinate pressures of coping with change. The tumultuous environment in which South Africa's health care industry is, create new demands which potentially exceed individual resources (Bowman, 1995:1). These demands include demands with respect to affirmative action and transformation, as well as the need to bring about an improved service for patients by ensuring that every aspect of health care is provided locally and with due regard to the health needs of the community as a whole. Within this environment, health care administrators, including nursing service managers, are particularly vulnerable and at risk from strain stimulated by new and complex stressors at work. This vulnerability was inter alia revealed by research findings obtained by Gmeiner & Poggenpoel (1996:55-60) which indicated that nursing service managers experience difficulties in their relationships with diverse others, lack of or insufficient group acceptance/support, value conflicts, and difficulty with self-acceptance.

Against this background, it is hardly surprising that school and nursing service managers often have to struggle to cope successfully, both professionally and personally, amidst innumerable, sometimes diverse, tasks (Myburgh, Niehaus & Poggenpoel, 1999:36). In fact, these managers are forced in a situation where they should increasingly make choices and decisions, often with far-reaching consequences. …

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