Dr. Gail Renee Ahern is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee:

Lize Booysen, DBL, Committee Chair
Elaine Gale, PhD, Committee Member
Laurien Alexandre, PhD, Committee Member
Daniel Grossehme, DMin, External Reader


resilience, leadership, servant leaders, hospice leaders, nursing leadership, transformational leaders

Document Type


Publication Date



This study is a qualitative inquiry examining the perspective of team leaders within hospice organizations on resilience. The goal of this study was to examine how hospice leaders build resilience for themselves and within the interdisciplinary teams they lead. A framework of three key theories of leadership—servant, spiritual and authentic—was used to help in understanding the similarities and differences of the interviewed leaders and their key themes and practices. The eight leaders interviewed were from a range of hospices in diverse settings and all were directly responsible for leading interdisciplinary teams. In-depth phenomenological interviewing was undertaken until the study reached interpretive sufficiency or saturation. Research questions included: What methods do leaders use to intentionally create resilient interdisciplinary team members? Do team members experience that resilience or are they on the fast track to burnout and seeking other job placements? The eight nurses interviewed in this dissertation reflect ethically resilient practitioners who define themselves within the understandings of servant, spiritual, and authentic leadership. Key findings included the high level of commitment to this challenging profession among all the interviewed hospice leaders as well as the similar yet diverse and adaptive strategies used to cope with critical challenges such as stress and burn-out. Most participants identified humor, creativity, spirituality, compassion, confidence, excellent listening skills, ever-increasing proficiency and education in the field of hospice nursing, as essential to ethical resilience. Implications for current and further research, and for hospice leaders’ and the author’s own practice, are considered. This dissertation is available at AURA and through Ohio Link ETD Center,