A Phenomenology Study of Educational Leadership in Health Sciences Education within a Cohort-Based Doctorate
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This phenomenology study explored the lived experiences of leadership within the first cohort-based doctorate in health sciences education launched by the College of Education at the University of Houston in August 2013. Sixteen students enrolled in this Executive Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D.) in Professional Leadership with an Emphasis in Health Sciences Education. Thirteen students participated in this study through a face-to-face semi-structured interview. Research questions were as follows (a) What is your perspective on educational leadership? (b) How do you view yourself as a potential leader? and (c) How do you experience education leadership in this cohort? A phenomenology approach coupled with a thematic approach to data analysis answered the call for more (a) qualitative research on leadership (b) educational curricula to improve the development of Ed.D. curricula, and (c) the training of future educational leaders in health sciences education (Colwill, 2012; Parry, Mumford, Bower, & Watts, 2014; Shulman et al., 2006). Findings suggest that participants’ perspectives on educational leadership describe a field of inquiry in which leaders are on a growth journey. In this field, leadership is a synthesis of what a leader is―and―what a leader does. What a leader is represents the way participants view themselves as potential leader and what a leader does is about their expertise as educational leaders. Perspectives on educational leadership represent the being and the doing of a leader. In between the being and the doing, leaders learn with and from others how to better serve patients, students, and the healthcare system. Still, in this field, the potential leader is a life-long learner who ranged across a continuum from the―leader-in-between-at one end to the―leader I am―at the other end of the continuum. Potential leaders gravitate towards growth, learn with and from others, and generate growth in their students―which will in turn better serve patients and the health care system. In addition, participants experienced leadership in the cohort in the form of leaderless interactions and as a leader-to-leader interaction through interdisciplinary dialogues.