Habitus, social capital, leadership, and reflection: insights for early career nurse academics

  • Joanne Harmon
    Corresponding author: Tel.: +61 8 8302 1442
    Clinical and Health Sciences Academic Unit, University of South Australia, PO Box 2471, Adelaide South Australia 5001

    Rosemary Byrant AO Research Centre, University of South Australia
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  • Matylda Howard
    Clinical and Health Sciences Academic Unit, University of South Australia, PO Box 2471, Adelaide South Australia 5001

    Centre for Workplace Excellence, University of South Australia
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  • Sue Sharrad
    Clinical and Health Sciences Academic Unit, University of South Australia, PO Box 2471, Adelaide South Australia 5001
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      It has been identified that nurses moving into academia have felt similar experiences of transition shock as those of new nurse graduates entering clinical practice. Moving into higher education, the early career nurse academic can find foreign the notion of different leadership approaches that have less direct supervision, leaving them unsure of their role and what is expected of them.


      To encourage early career nurse academics to undertake regular reflective practice within their habitus, to enhance their understanding of their social capital and facilitate the use of a transformative leadership approach.


      The discussion draws on the theory of Bourdieu as a lens to explore the notion that if one has access to crucial resources, they will understand how to accrue them through their relationships with others.

      Findings and discussion

      Early career nurse academics are required to have understanding into gaining and maintaining social capital and use this as part of their leadership style. To achieve this, reflection and engaging in peer review is required. The development of an academic identity requires the building of networks and receiving mentorship.


      From undertaking a process of reflection, early career nurse academics can take an active role in their development from gaining insight into their leadership style utilising a transformative leader approach. A critical understanding of the levels of social capital nurse academics currently hold within an organisation, will enable them to seek opportunities and areas requiring further development for their professional leadership growth.


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