A qualitative study exploring the career mindset of a group of early career academic nurses as they deployed ‘Habits of Mind’ to sustain their career journey

Publication Name

Nurse Education in Practice


Aim: This study aimed to explore the qualities that sustain a career mindset in a group of early career academics in one Australian university. Background: Building an academic career is a lengthy, convoluted and complex journey requiring a mindset prepared to make informed and timely decisions. Success is predicated to a large extent on the ability of persons to process information effectively before actions are taken. Employing ‘Habits of Mind’ supports growth in intelligent behaviours through acquiring a composite of skills, attitudes, cues and past experiences that maximises appropriate choice of one pattern of thinking over another. A level of skill is required to employ ‘Habits of Mind’, suggesting that reflection and evaluation of experiences are critical to the process. In this, the third phase of a four-phase sequential study, the career mindset of a group of early career academic nurses were studied during 2019. A cluster of ‘Habits of Mind’ emerged as having value for an academic career mindset, allowing the individuals to meet challenges of negotiating a career terrain and deepening their learning about those situations. Time and energy could therefore be appropriated to engage with the academic global community in new and career challenging health related research. Design: A qualitative descriptive approach. Methods: The study applied the epistemology and constructivist thinking of John Dewey and the self-directed learning theories of Mezirow and Knowles. Set in a large metropolitan university in Sydney, Australia. A purposive sample of nine early career academic nurses were interviewed using semi-structured, one-to-one audio-taped interviews. Data were analysed thematically using Braun and Clarke (2006) six phase process. Results: Findings revealed that deployment of the cluster of the five distinctive themes or ‘Habits of Mind’: Rely on self; take responsible risks; think with colleagues; keep an open mind and possess curiosity into the novice nurses’ mindset, expedited self-directed learning processes, resulting in sharpening of their learning power to enable a more productive career journey. Conclusions: It is argued that ‘Habits of Minds’ can provide a valuable learning framework when directing a career mindset and, that inclusion by providers of leadership, career or mentorship programs can sustain an academic environment where a culture of learning can flourish and where ECANs are equipped with attributes and behaviours necessary to address global demands.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access



Article Number




Link to publisher version (DOI)